The Team

Ship Location

Channel Islands, USA

Michael Hannaford

Photo of Michael Hannaford
Hercules Pilot
Owner, Technician, Pilot

Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?

I'm an ROV pilot & technician, as well as a mechanical technologist. Working as an ROV pilot within a team, I work to keep the ROVs in a dive ready state. We pilot the vehicles, perform preventative maintenance, and repair when required. I am fortunate in that I spend just about all of my time working on science and research projects these days. I've worked exploring hydrothermal sites in the North and South Pacific, biological surveys, instrument deployments, and a variety of sampling.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I started working with ROVs in the North Atlantic, off Newfoundland. There was a high demand for pilots at the time, for industry work. I had a good mechanical background and I thought I'd make a pitch for one of the positions. I had never worked at sea before, and the thought really appealed to me. Working with ROVs sounded like it would be challenging and fun, and it certainly is.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

I've been fortunate to have been influenced by more than a few people with great outlooks on life. I think back to a high school teacher, my grandmother, and some of the people I work with today. People who understand and teach the importance of figuring out what you want out of life and pursuing it.

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

For me, it's having a front row seat to the endless variety of truly amazing features and life in the ocean. The diversity and enormity of it is staggering, and we've only yet explored such a small fraction of it. Every job I've done in exploration and research has been an incredible experience in its own way.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

Before working with ROVs I had accumulated quite a bit of experience as a mechanical technician. After working for some years, I returned to school to complete a mechanical technology program and began working with ROVs after that.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Mechanical Engineering Technologist

What are your hobbies?

I love traveling, another great benefit of this work. I also enjoy playing music, climbing, and biking around Montreal.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

To work with ROVs I think it's best to have strong discipline with a technical background that works for you. It could be electronics, mechanical, robotics, instrumentation, or some such. Having a strong technical background is really important. There are many other aspects to working with ROVs, but being strong in your discipline is key. Beyond that, I think you have to enjoy solving problems, be interested in project based work, embrace change, and enjoy traveling to who knows where.