OceanGate Blog Post

Meet the Pilot Series: Emily Hammermeister

July 8, 2020

"What are you doing after college?” is a question that might stir feelings of nervousness for some seniors as they near graduation, but not OceanGate’s Emily Hammermeister. During the year and a half leading up to graduation, she worked as an intern with OceanGate’s Operations team while completing her double degree in Business Administration and Oceanography at the University of Washington. Throughout the internship, Hammermeister’s impeccable work ethic along with her diverse range of skills and knowledge of ocean dynamics proved to be invaluable. She was offered a permanent position as a Submersible Pilot in Training the summer after her graduation.

Emily Hammermeister: Co-Pilot

Her first dive in July of 2019 was in Antipodes, our yellow submersible. The dive was only five minutes long, but it is a dive she “will never forget.” She adds, “the feeling of living comfortably underwater for the first time was spectacular.” Now, as a qualified Submersible Co-Pilot, Hammermeister enjoys recreating that same feeling for Mission Specialists, researcher and others.

My favorite part about piloting is getting to share the experience with first-time crewmembers. Just like my first time, they are always in awe, and it’s such a special feeling to be able to provide that experience for them and explain how the systems operate and create such an incredible atmosphere for them.

As Emily advanced through the Submersible Pilot training program in Cyclops 1, she mastered one of the more challenging skills, landing the submersible on OceanGate’s patented submerged platform. On her first attempt, Hammermeister was “incredibly nervous” due to the pressure of wanting to land the submersible correctly on the first try. After the failure of her first attempt, the pressure to be perfect subsided and she was able to refocus on improving her skills through practice. Perfection comes with practice and repetition, and in the end, what matters is how we respond to challenges and difficulties. Now, with more experience under her belt, Hammermeister comments that “taking off and landing are still the most exciting parts of piloting a dive, and I don’t think twice about messing up--I just do it.”

Although landing on the platform may be challenging, the most difficult part of piloting for Hammermeister is maintaining patience while waiting to dive. “A dive day is so exciting, all you want to do is get in the sub and go underwater,” she exclaims. Regardless of how eager she is to get the dive started, she is extremely disciplined about following detailed checklists and routines. She carries out a “complete review [of] dive procedures, standards and emergency protocols the night and morning before a dive.”

Along the way, Hammermeister has discovered many positive role models in educators, colleagues, and friends. “I like to feel inspired by almost everyone I meet and take their influence with me onto the next part of my life,” she says. Emily is dedicated to her community and enjoys participating in events such as the UW Oceanography Career Panel hosted by the Student Oceanographic Society and educating young women about the diverse range of STEM opportunities open to them. Recently, Emily has stepped up to lead OceanGate’s Social Justice Initiative, providing resources and education for our entire staff. She has created an OceanGate giving campaign, as well as begun to structure local outreach initiatives.

Who would have imagined that her combined experiences would lead her to piloting Cyclops 1 on its Centennial dive? At the OCEANS 2019 Conference, the OceanGate team headed down to the Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina. This event consisted of tours as well as a dive to view the MT6 Barge Wreck, located in Elliot Bay. Amazingly, it coincided with Cyclops 1’s 100th dive:

Emily Hammermeister before a dive to the MT6 shipwreck in Seattle's Elliott Bay.
The dive I am most proud of to date was on October 28th, 2019. It was the 100th dive for Cyclops 1 and was in Seattle’s own Elliot Bay. It was my first dive on a wreck, and when we approached it, although the visibility was low, the sight of it on sonar was incredible, and as we got closer the scene was surreal. At the end of the successful dive, coming to the surface and opening the hatch to see Seattle’s skyline was an absolutely unforgettable moment that I will cherish forever.

When not piloting, Emily serves as our Engineering Project Manager. Her current focus is coordinating Titan’s overall improvements as OceanGate prepares for the 2021 Titanic Survey Expedition. Follow OceanGate Inc to learn more about our submersibles and crew. Follow OceanGate Expeditions to learn how to join the Titanic Survey Expedition, the Hudson Canyon Expedition, or create a mission of your own!

  • Emily piloting Cyclops 1.