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Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the graduation today of nine men and five women from the Basic Officer Training Class of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

New recruits must have degrees in science, mathematics, or engineering before entering basic officer training. NOAA Corps officers manage and operate the agency’s fleet of 15 ships and 13 aircraft used to gather data and conduct research in fulfillment of NOAA’s environmental science mission. Officers also apply their technical, managerial and operational skills to shoreside positions within NOAA program offices.

“I am delighted to welcome these bright and inspired young officers into the ranks of the NOAA Corps,” said Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., USN (Ret.), NOAA administrator and under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. “They have the education, skill and motivation essential to support NOAA’s mission. We’re very pleased that the members of this graduating class have chosen to serve NOAA and the Department of Commerce, and look forward to working with them as they contribute to the success of NOAA’s programs.”

Today’s graduation is the culmination of three months of intense training at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. The officers will soon begin their first assignments aboard NOAA research and survey ships.

“As NOAA’s capabilities in nautical charting and other strategic areas are called upon by the Bush Administration to support homeland security, some of these new officers will also have the opportunity to help assure the safety of the nation as part of their regular duties,” Lautenbacher said.

The NOAA Corps is the smallest of the nation’s seven uniformed services (the other services are the four military services, Coast Guard and Public Health Service).

The Corps is extremely effective in helping NOAA carry out its various missions, from nautical charting, to fisheries and coastal research, to oceanographic research and global climate change studies. Officers not only operate NOAA ships and aircraft, but serve in land-based offices throughout the country where they can apply their operational expertise and knowledge of NOAA platform capabilities to program management and planning.

New NOAA Corps recruits – who must have degrees in science, engineering or mathematics – are sent to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to learn ship management, bridge operations, radar plotting, navigation, firefighting, service protocol, and other skills needed before they begin tours aboard NOAA vessels as junior officers. Classroom lectures, lab activities and demonstrations are combined with hands-on experience aboard the Academy-owned ship, Kings Pointer, which is a sister ship to four NOAA-owned vessels.

Each officer will work with a senior officer on the bridge and begin specialized training in hydrographic surveys, fishery research and trawling, or oceanic and atmospheric research once assigned to a vessel for the first two-year tour.

There are currently 257 officers in the Corps, including the 14 new graduates listed below:

ENS Silas Ayers, West Chester, Penn. ENS Sarah Jackson, Woodbridge, Va.
ENS Michael Davidson, Tuscaloosa, Ala. ENS Jason Mansour, Plesanton, Calif.
ENS David Fischman, Kings Park, N.Y. ENS ENS Tri Nguyen, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
ENS Amanda Goeller, Snow Hill, Md. ENS Brent J. Pounds, Pueblo, Colo.
ENS Leah Harman, Florence, Colo. LT J.G. Dan Price, Cleveland, Ohio
ENS Abigail Higgins, Virginia Beach, Va. ENS Mike Stevenson, Pensacola, Fla.
ENS Paul Householder, Frazeysburg, Ohio ENS Briana Welton, Hereford, Ariz.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit