‘A job that’s vital to Alaska’s culture and subsistence’

Brian Lull
Chief mate
Brian Lull began his professional career in advertising sales before entering the maritime industry. He quickly rose from ordinary seaman to chief mate, thanks in large part to mentoring and support from his fellow mariners. 

Lull currently works aboard Crowley’s 1,100-hp River-class tugboat Koolik River, which pushes fuel barges to numerous villages in remote Western Alaska and the high Arctic. He joined Crowley eight years ago and has worked in the company’s “mosquito fleet” in Alaska ever since. 

“Most of the places we deliver fuel have no docks, and the rivers and waterways we transit are often not surveyed, requiring detailed local knowledge and experienced crews,” he told Professional Mariner. 

The job of a chief mate can vary significantly by the day. Lull is the captain’s representative when he or she is off watch, taking responsibility for safe navigation of the vessel and safe loading and delivery of cargo and freight. Cooking, cleaning, paperwork and even filleting fish for dinner can also be on the task list some days.

Lull, who has been married to his wife, Gina, for 21 years, earned his mate’s license through MITAGS/PMI’s Workboat Academy program. Mariners can take the classroom learning they need while operators like Crowley provide students with the required sea time and on-the-job experience, Lull said. 

Crowley’s fuel deliveries in Arctic and Alaskan villages sustain these communities during the long, frigid winter months. That part of the job is particularly rewarding to Lull, who grew up in Washington. 

“I like doing a job that is vital to Western Alaska’s culture and subsistence,” he said. “Personally, I really enjoy being part of high-performing teams with hard-working shipmates. The mariners of Crowley’s Western Alaska fleet are the finest people I’ve ever worked with, and I am proud to be a part of that.”