is the NOAA Corps?
NOAA Corps is America's
seventh and smallest uniformed service. Officers may serve as
fishery management biologists
helping to protect endangered salmon. They might monitor atmospheric
conditions influencing climate change at the South Pole. They
might also conduct research about penguins and seals, issue
forecast and alerts as space environment forecasters, provide
scientific advice to the Coast Guard on hazardous spills, or
generate oceanographic analyses based on satellite data.
NOAA Corps has close to 240 commissioned officers across the U.S.
and at remote research sites in Australia and Antarctica. Rear
Admiral Evelyn J. Fields is at the helm. NOAA Corps officers are
trained in earth sciences, engineering, oceanography, meteorology,
fisheries science, and related fields.
Just as with NOAA generally, many elements of NOAA Corps are direct
descendants of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, the oldest
scientific agency in the U.S. In 1807, a science-minded Thomas
Jefferson signed a bill for the "Survey of the
Coast," the first such legislation. Under Superintendent Ferdinand
Rudolph Hassler, a Swiss immigrant, the Coast Survey became the
first federal science agency. During the years before the Civil
War, the Coast Survey's work force included male and female civilians
working alongside Army and Naval officers - in fact, the Coast
Survey was the first federal agency to hire female professionals.
charted the nation's waterways, developed topographic maps of
our shorelines, produced the backbone of precise mapping efforts
- and made America's marine highways among the best charted
in the world.
the Civil War broke out, the civilian officers were asked to
provide mapping, hydrographic and engineering expertise for
the Union forces. Civilian Coast Surveyors, the professional
ancestors of today's NOAA Corps, were right on the front lines,
or ahead of them, producing vital coastal charts and interior
maps. They stood with Grant in Chattanooga, with Sherman in
Virginia and the Carolinas, with the Union blockading forces,
and in defense of Washington.
Once the war ended, the Survey resumed its work of making America's
shores safe for commerce. This responsibility expanded when
Alaska was acquired in 1867, and again with the acquisition
of Puerto Rico. Over the years, and during many battles, the
Coast and Geodetic Survey continued as a steadfast and critical
link in a range of venues. During World War I, its officers
put down mines in the North Sea, navigated troop transports,
provided intelligence, and served as staff to General "Black
World War II, they helped speed the movement of men and material
and were widely credited with developing new instruments and
methods that ultimately saved countless lives. In the worldwide
aeronautical charting effort, they pioneered many of today's
civil air routes. At home, they provided close to 100 million
charts and maps to Allied forces, including charts for Hiroshima.
the 194 years since its inception, the Survey of the Coast has
grown from a relatively small operation centered on the east
coast to an agency active in all oceans of the world.
Following two reorganizations in which many science agencies
with related missions were brought together as one agency, NOAA
and the NOAA Corps came into being in 1970. Today NOAA Corps
officers serve across each of NOAA's' five line offices as well
as with NASA, the Department of State, the U.S. Coast Guard,
and the Department of Defense. Through the Office of Marine
and Aviation Operations, they operate NOAA's fleet of research
and survey vessels and aircraft.
assigned to aircraft, officers spend about a third of their career
at sea. They operate and manage NOAA ships and aircraft and serve
throughout NOAA in research laboratories and program offices.
The officers are on call 24 hours each day and rotate assignments
every two or three years, bringing ship and aircraft expertise
to their shore assignments.
officers work under a military-style personnel system, they
can be moved or reassigned without prior notice, as when a disaster
hits or in response to other agency needs. Newly commissioned
officers first complete basic officers' training, then move
on to their first assignment aboard a NOAA ship.
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