Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Baetsen ’77

When initially contemplating colleges, I knew I wanted to study engineering, but my only connection to the maritime industry was through my father, who was in the Coast Guard. He happened to have two relatively recent Webb grads working for him, and he told me that they were the best prepared engineers to work in the industry which enticed me to apply.
The combination of the rigorous academics and the summer and winter work terms taught me what the maritime industry looked like, and I felt very well prepared to be a part of it. After four very interesting years, I moved back to the Washington D.C. area, having failed in my attempts to secure a job in San Francisco where I had done my senior winter work as an assistant port engineer.

I worked for two different commercial companies (J. J. Henry and Santa Fe Corporation) before joining Military Sealift Command on the recommendation of John Archibald ’75 (and now my brother in-law) who told me that MSC was unlike any other government organization in its business approach to managing a fleet of ships.

During the more than 30 years I have been with MSC, I have been very fortunate to be involved in almost all aspects of the industry. I have had the opportunity to work on design; maintenance engineering; new construction programs (I think the count is over 80 with 12 more currently under contract); maritime regulatory body, safety, and environmental management; development and deployment of our ISM compliant Safety Management System; and have been responsible for engineering operations (life-cycle management, maintenance, overhaul, alteration, repair and modification) for a fleet of ships. MSC is as commercially focused as a Navy organization can be – classifying our ships with ABS, certifying them with the USCG and complying with international commercial regulations (MARPOL, SOLAS, etc.).

I was fortunate that MSC helped me obtain a master’s degree, and I have used when being involved in various Command-wide restructuring and re-engineering efforts.

Webb was a great opportunity. Donna and I are blessed with two wonderful children Ryan (25) and Lauren (20) and with lifelong friendships with fellow classmates and Webbies.

Webb provided me with the strong foundation to understand, analyze, develop and implement solutions to many different challenging problems and to be able to adapt to differing situations. It is a unique place, one that needs to be cherished and supported.