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SSHSA board member roles and responsibilities (PDF)

SSHSA Board of Directors


Patrick Dacey, President, of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, recently retired as a Lieutenant of County Detectives after spending 30 years in law enforcement. He earned an undergraduate degree from Jersey City State College and a master's degree in human resources, design and training from Seton Hall University. His civilian career includes an extensive background in criminal investigations, narcotics, community outreach, training and counter terrorism with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, he retired from the reserve component of the United States Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 25 years. He has had a lifelong interest in passenger ships and joined SSHSA in the 1970s as a student member. A veteran of more than 60 voyages and crossings, he is also chairman of the board of the World Ship Society, Port of New York Branch. He is married to Denise and they have one son together, Philip.

Barry W. Eager, Vice President, of Berlin, Massachusetts, is a local historian, musician and retired teacher. He joined SSHSA in 1973 and is now a lifetime member. In addition to serving on the board, he has contributed many articles to SSHSA publications, and currently authors "Heard on the Fantail" in PowerShips magazine. He is active in local activities in the Town of Berlin, Massachusetts, a member of the cemetery commission and historical commission, and specializes in collecting music and songs having to do with steamboats.

Nicholas Langhart, Vice President and Treasurer, grew up in Ohio and has a passion for maritime heritage and historic architecture. He currently serves as library director at The Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, Massachusetts. Nick holds a Master's Degree in Historic Preservation from Cornell University. Nick is an instructor for the Evolution of New England Architecture at Fitchburg State and has taught the History of Worcester's Architecture at Clark University and Worcester State University. Prior to serving as a professional library director, he was Property Manager for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now better known as Historic New England. His expertise was instrumental in organizing the SSHSA library at the Ship History Center in 2015.

Dr. Andrew O. Coggins Jr. , Secretary, is an internationally known cruise industry analyst based in New York. Dr. Coggins is a retired U.S. Navy Commander with over twenty-three years of service on seven ships. He has spoken at numerous conferences, and given interviews on issues and trends in the cruise and travel industries. He is also an active member of SKAL International and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), as well as international travel and tourism marketing and networking organizations. He currently teaches courses in cruise industry management at Pace University.

CAPT James Zatwarnicki, Vice President, of Hoboken, New Jersey, graduated from SUNY Maritime College in June, 2002 with a degree in Marine Transportation Management and later earned a Master of Science in International Transportation Management. He holds a license as Master Unlimited Tonnage Upon Oceans and Master of Towing Vessels. Capt. Zatwarnicki actively sailed on his license from June of 2002 until he began working at the US Merchant Marine Academy in April 2018 as an Assistant Professor of Nautical Science. He has sailed on several types of vessels throughout his career including survey vessels, container ships, tugboats, military supply ships, and served as master of the USNS Gordon and USNS Shughart. He is very active with the Sea Scouting program, Boy Scouts of America, and has been affiliated with Ship 228, the Sea Dart II, in Rahway, NJ for 27 years.


Board Members

William H. Miller was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on May 3, 1948. In addition to his teaching career and authorship of more than 40 books, he was chairman of the World Ship Society's Port of New York Branch from 1970 to 1976, deputy director of the New York Harbor Festival Foundation from 1979 to 1982, historian at the Museum of the American Merchant Marine in 1979, and creator of a course entitled "The Ocean Liner" at the New School of Social Research in Manhattan in 1981. He also created the passenger ship database for the Ellis Island Museum and appeared in the documentary SS United States: Lady in Waiting. A documentary about his life and studies, Mr. Ocean Liner, premiered aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 on July 1, 2010.

Darshell Silva of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the Library and Media Specialist for the North Kingstown School District, per course faculty member at the University of Rhode Island, and Education Technology Consultant for various organizations. She holds a Master of Library and Information Studies degree, a School Library Media Specialist Certification, both from the University of Rhode Island, and a Blended Learning Certificate from Roger Williams University. Darshell teaches information literacy, technology instruction, coding, and maker education, among other duties. She has served on many educational organization boards as well as won numerous awards for her excellence in education. She comes from a long line of Cape Verdean stevedores and has worked with SSHSA to incorporate ship history project based learning lessons in her classroom.

CAPT Terry Tilton USN (Ret.) grew up on a farm in Iowa, but as a young man he longed for the sea. He attended and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, serving 25 years as a Naval Officer and completing a career qualified to command any ship in the Navy. He collects unique maritime artifacts, including one of the finest collections of ship builder's plates. He is a researcher and author of several feature-length articles in PowerShips, most notably his extensive compilations on companies such as Ingalls Shipbuilding. He is also an active participant as researcher, author, speaker, and officer in the Southern California Chapter of SSHSA.

CAPT Eric T. Wiberg is an historian and lecturer living in Boston, Massachusetts. A licensed captain by age 25, he has personally sailed more than 75,000 nautical miles on over 100 vessels in some 60 countries since 1987. In addition to a JD in maritime law and a Master's in Marine Affairs, Captain Wiberg has written over 20 books, including "U-Boats in New England" (2019), "U-Boats in the Bahamas" (2016), "U-Boats off Bermuda" (2017), "Round the World in the Wrong Season" (2010), Swan Sinks: SS Cygnet Sunk by Italian Submarine Enrico Tazzoli, San Salvador, Bahamas in World War II (2017), and "Tanker Disasters" (2009). His home page is

CAPT David Pickering of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the founder of Seamanship and Leadership Training for Youths (S.A.L.T.Y.), a non-profit organization organized in 2014. S.A.L.T.Y. provides sailing adventures aboard traditional sailing ships for Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts and other youth organizations including Gold Star Teens, the sons and daughters of a military parent who gave their life defending our freedoms. In 1984, Dave founded Preventure Corporate Wellness, located in Rhode Island. He and his partners have grown the company from a startup to a multi-million dollar business. Dave retired from Preventure in 2014, and joined the SSHSA Board in 2016. He's a licensed USCG Merchant Marine Officer and an SSHSA CAPTs' Circle member since 2013.

Kate Vescera of Long Beach, California, is a lawyer and RMS Queen Mary afficionado who is also chairwoman of SSHSA’s Southern California Chapter. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international political economics and Russian in 2007, and a juris doctor from Pepperdine Law School in 2012 with a master’s degree in dispute resolution. She is currently a partner at The Amin Law Group in Irvine, California. In addition to her work with SSHSA, Kate is also a mentor with Motivating Our Students Through Experience (MOSTe), a community-based mentoring, scholarship and college-access organization that encourages young women’s education and success. She also serves on the board of QMI Restore the Queen, which is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and protection of the Queen Mary. Kate has been an SSHSA member since 2014.

CAPT Eric Takakjian resides in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and is a professional mariner who has been sailing ships and oceangoing tugboats to various corners of the world since 1978. He is currently employed by The Vane Brothers Company aboard an oceangoing tugboat based in New York Harbor. He and his wife Lori both served in the U.S. Coast Guard and formerly owned and operated the research vessel QUEST, conducting oceanographic and shipwreck research in the North East United States and outer continental shelf waters. An avid diver and researcher, CAPT Takakjian has conducted extensive historical research on New England shipwrecks, resulting in the location and exploration of more than 70 previously undiscovered shipwrecks in the waters around New England and outer continental shelf waters. He has been an SSHSA member for over two decades, and volunteers his time cataloging and organizing the ship plans collections at the Ship History Center.

CAPT Ben Lyons of Bozeman, Montana, has spent his entire life captivated by ships and travel. After graduating from Groton School in Massachusetts, Ben decided to follow his passion and attended the US Merchant Marine Academy. In 2003, Ben was asked to join the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 ocean liner, then under construction in France. Consequently, he became the first (and still only) American officer hired in the company’s more than 170-year history. Ben served for five years onboard, leaving as the ship’s chief officer. An avid traveler to unusual, less-developed regions, Ben has also been an active travel writer for over a decade. His articles and reviews appear in a wide range of guidebooks, magazines and newspapers. After several years specializing in writing about expedition cruising, he traveled to Antarctica in 2007. Immediately, he fell in love with the seventh continent. Soon thereafter, he left Cunard to join Lindblad Expeditions to explore more of the world’s wild, polar regions. He sailed on National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Explorer, first as chief officer and later as captain.


Clint Strong of Dallas, Texas, and Bayside, Maine, is a gardener and aspiring boat builder. He earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Kansas and a bachelor of business administration from the University of Oklahoma. He is an experienced chief executive officer with a demonstrated history of working in the electrical and electronic manufacturing industry and has excelled at budgeting, sales, sales management, team building and manufacturing. He is currently the CEO of Connectrac, a business that manufactures and sells innovative floor-mounted cabling systems and accessories. These systems provide telecom, audio-visual and power connectivity to all types of furniture and equipment applications. He has been an SSHSA member since 2019.

Immediate Past President

Don Leavitt of Baltimore, Maryland, immediate past president, has a Bachelor's Degree in American History from the University of Maryland and a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. An avid fan of ocean liner history, that passion translates into professional success with his business Nautiques, an online ship memorabilia seller. Today is one of the most trusted nautical antiques sites in the business. Don sells to customers in all 50 states and around the world. Don and his husband Todd summer on Lake Winnipesaukee and previously lived in a restored Vermont village house that was built just a few years after Cunard first sailed across the Atlantic.