Scripps Research Vessel Reaches Out Beyond the Oceans


A ship’s crew might not often be expected to venture beyond the dock in a port city before heading to the next destination, but in Punta Arenas, Chile, a recent visit by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego’s R/V Roger Revelle was especially important, not just for the ship’s crew but for some young locals deep in the city’s heart.

The eager kids are from Hogar del Niño Miraflores orphanage and were excited for the ship to come into port so the fun could begin. Their excursion started with a private tour of Revelle where the children were shown around the ship and were able to sit in the captain’s chair and get a view from above. This was followed by a specialty lunch of pizza and fresh baked cookies prepared by the ship’s cooks. The kids ate heartily that day and took away more than just full bellies; they created lifelong memories.

Ever since the mid 1980s, Scripps Captain Dave Murline has stopped in Punta Arenas, a city at the southern tip of South America that serves as a hub for many research vessels. After befriending local resident Juan Pedro Kolofotovic, Murline discovered how easily he could help this local community.

“He (Juan) mentioned that he did outreach work for the local orphanage and that he always got more back than he ever gave from the experience,” said Murline.

That connection and the early participation of a previous crew member named Lambert Halsema who always brought used clothing and books from the U.S. for other less-fortunate people in South America, is where Murline says he “learned about giving.”

Kolofotovic helped Murline begin a tradition in which the captain’s fellow crewmen, and local Chilean players take part in a charity basketball game. The crew play the locals and whoever loses donates $100 to the orphanage. As often as possible, the tradition is extended to any Scripps vessel that docks in the   They continue this tradition whenever possible when a Scripps ship comes into town.

Yet the giving hasn’t stopped there. For example, in 1989 Murline and his crew made Christmas a joyous occasion in 1989 for the children without families by hosting a barbeque and touring them around the ship.

“The kids were great and poured out so much love,” said Murline. “It was probably the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”

Murline credits the enthusiasm of his crew for the success of the Revelle’s connection with the orphanage.

“Everyone helped out with taking care of the kids during the tour. I couldn’t do things like this if I didn’t have a great supportive crew and a boss that trusts and supports my decisions far away

The captain hopes that others will be motivated to help out with this effort or similar ones. Murline is considering organizing a clothing drive or another event to help get more Scripps colleagues involved with giving, saying the ships can always make room for a few boxes of donated toys, clothes or books.

“I think it’s the ‘ripple effect,’” said Murline. “When you throw a stone into the water it may not have a great effect on the whole body of water, but it will certainly touch every shore. Maybe other people will learn through my experience and find out how good it makes you feel to give a little.”

— Caitlin Denham

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