Joel Fritsch is the Master (Vessel Polaris) for the USGS Water Resources Mission Area.
Joel Fritsch is a graduate of the California Maritime Academy, Class of 1991 "Third Herd". He started his career as a tugboat captain working in various harbors from Alaska to California and a few ocean voyages along the west coast as well. In 1997, Joel started working aboard the largest (at that time) US flagged Hopper Dredge Ship "STUYVESANT". After 10 years of dredging various ports along the US coast and international waters, he transferred to the Army Corps of Engineer's Hopper Dredge Ship "WHEELER" stationed out of New Orleans as Second Mate for two years. Given the chance of a lifetime, Joel transferred to USGS as Master of the R/V POLARIS in June of 2009. Since 2016 when the R/V POLARIS retired, he has been Master of the R/V DAVID H. PETERSON.
Prior to moving back to the Bay Area from San Diego, he lived on a 50' sailboat "REVERENCE" with his wife and two boys enjoying the cruising lifestyle. Being able to work in the Bay Area again, plus being home every day with his family was an easy trade off for leaving their little paradise in San Diego and move shoreside to a house. Joel is licensed by the US Coast Guard as a 1600 ton Master and as an Unlimited Second Mate. He says, "Hands down, I have one of the best jobs out there".