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Captain (retired) Albert "Skip" Theberge

Nov 18, 2022

The career of Captain Theberge, (Skip) as a coast surveyor followed a somewhat traditional path.

He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1969 as a Geological Engineer and entered

the ESSA Corps, a descendant organization of the commissioned service of the United States

Coast and Geodetic Survey, which became the NOAA Corps in 1970. He retired from the

NOAA Corps in late 1995. During his NOAA Corps career, Captain Theberge sailed aboard

four NOAA survey ships, including serving as Commanding Officer of NOAA Ships Pierce and

Whiting. His other assignments included serving on survey field parties, a mobile hydrographic

field unit, and two years as a participant on academic research cruises from the Scripps

Institution of Oceanography involved in early multi-beam and deep tow ROV work. Every now

and then he was able to settle somewhere such as the National Geophysical Data Center in

Boulder, CO, where he was engaged in mapping geothermal energy resources of western states.

He later headed NOAA’s Exclusive Economic Zone mapping project out of NOAA headquarters

in Maryland, an early civil example of use of multi-beam systems for large-scale sea-floor


After retiring from the NOAA Corps, Captain Theberge was affiliated with the NOAA Central

Library where he served as Acting Head of Reference. In that capacity he built the NOAA Photo

Library and the NOAA History website. Skip’s interest in the history of both the old Coast

Survey and the history of the profession stemmed from his assignment at the Scripps Institution

of Oceanography between 1982 and 1984, when it became apparent to him, as Skip described,

how “woefully ignorant” he was of the history of his own agency and the history of hydrography

in general.

Captain Theberge was part of the NOAA science team that designed the Sant Ocean Hall of the

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, spearheaded NOAA’s 200th Anniversary celebration

in 2007, and provided historical information for the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of

NOAA Corps. He wrote over 80 articles on the history of hydrography, oceanography, and

geodetic surveying over the past twenty years. Among the awards Captain Theberge received

were numerous NOAA Corps Achievement Medals, the United States Department of Commerce

Gold Medal and the NOAA Distinguished Career Award.

Captain Theberge was always eager to share his knowledge with others, and interspersed the

detailed history with personal stories and anecdotes. His legacy will live on forever, through his

work at the library, the stories that he shared and other contributions he made to the NOAA

Corps, NOAA and our nation.

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