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Press Statement 06-001

Statement by Karl A. Erb, director of the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, on the Loss at Sea of Joshua Spillane

April 21, 2006

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation, and especially the men and women of the U.S. Antarctic Program, offer condolences to the family of Joshua Spillane, who was lost at sea earlier this week in Antarctic waters while serving his country aboard the research vessel Laurence M. Gould.

The formal search for Spillane, a marine technician for Raytheon Polar Services Co., of Centennial, Colo., (NSF's Antarctic logistics contractor), was ended at 1800 (EDT) on April 19. He was discovered missing from the Gould on April 17. An exhaustive search for him had been underway that included the use of an Orion P-3 aircraft flown by the Argentinean Air Defense search and rescue force.

The Gould is slowly sailing northward and a search will continue en route, parallel to the ship's original course. The Gould is expected to arrive at Punta Arenas, Chile, on Saturday, April 22.

As a technician on Antarctic research vessels, Spillane served for 10 years in some of the world's most unforgiving waters. While there is no indication that weather or sea conditions played a role in this tragedy, his long career in this uninviting environment underscores his service. His dedication helped advance mankind's scientific knowledge of one of the world's final frontiers.

We wish to extend to his loved ones our gratitude for his service and our sympathy for their loss.


Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7761, email:
Valerie Carroll, Raytheon Polar Services Co., (720) 568-2134., email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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