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
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.