Capt. Thomas C. von Haas ’75
Capt. Thomas C. von Haas, 65, of Summit, NJ, passed away on Monday, March 20, 2017.
Born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Thom had lived in Summit for the last 26 years. A proud Eagle Scout, Thom was also a member of the Elks Lodge #1246 and American Legion of Summit, as well as the Masonic Lodge #136 of Hasbrouck Heights, and the Military Order of the World Wars.
Captain von Haas was a master mariner, more recently employed with the American Maritime Officers in Dania Beach, Florida. He captained ships that were 4 football field long, carrying diesel fuel to air craft carriers, which supplied planes. Thomas von Haas started his seagoing career in 1968 when he enlisted in the local Naval Reserve unit in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Through the Naval Reserve he was appointed to the Naval Academy Preparatory School at Bainbridge, Maryland. NAPS is requisite for enlisted naval personnel who are appointed to any of the service academies. While at NAPS, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Maryland, by both the Secretary of the Navy and his Pennsylvania Congressman, and also to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, at Kings Point, New York, by his state senator. At the Naval Academy, Mr. Midshipman von Haas majored in Ocean Engineering, with the usual minors in Nautical Science and Marine Engineering. His non academic activities also centered around the sea going portion of his naval career; sailing, shiphandling, tactics, etc. Thomas von Haas was the first Sophomore to achieve command of a “YP”, the Destroyer-like training craft, and also serve as Flag Captain in the training squadron. A reduction in forces following Vietnam returned von Haas to Reserve status. Capt. von Haas continued to go to sea as an Ordinary Seaman in Getty’s tanker fleet. This allowed him to view the commercial side of shipping, which led him to Marine Maritime Academy, at Castine, Maine. As very few of the Navy/Military credits were compatible with the Maritime requirements, it was necessary to complete nearly all of Maine’s four year curriculum. This, however, was completed in 20 months, including summer training ship cruises with both MMA and the SUNY Maritime Academy, at Fort Schuyler, New York. Unlike USNA, at Maine one could major in going to sea, i.e. Nautical Science. Shortly before graduation from Maine Maritime, Capt. von Haas was recruited by Zapata Marine for their then yet to be launched PATRIOT-class tankers. Unfortunately, the delay in launching lost von Haas, first to the coastal industry (tourist and marine construction) and finally to the Military Sealift Command. Most of his MSC career was on point-to-point tankers, and a large part of that as cargo officer, i.e. acting Chief Mate. A change of contract operator gained von Haas entrance into the AMO-MEBA :D2 maritime union, where he served on a variety of ships, mostly tankers of various ages and sizes, and finally to the PATRIOT-class tankers, then operated by Ocean Carriers, Inc. Captain von Haas served in the PATRIOT-class tankers for 10 years, the last 6 as Master. He is a maritime veteran of both Persian Gulf Wars (Iraq-Iran and Desert Storm). Two years after the operation of the PATRIOT-class vessels changed to Vulcan Carriers in 1990, Captain von Haas returned to Ocean Shipholding, Inc.
Captain von Haas is survived by his wife Christine (nee: Gilmartin), who he met horseback riding. Together they have two sons, Karl and Erik, and daughters Lois and Emma. While not at sea, Thom has worked as a land surveyor, a marine surety consultant, high school substitute teacher, a Farrier, and was also a qualified commercial/deep sea diver. His leisure interests are primarily equestrian, having ridden with several social and occasionally formal fox hunts.