FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
News Releases 2003
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Ensign Briana J. Welton of Hereford, Ariz., graduates today from the Basic Officer Training Class of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. NOAA, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a uniformed service of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Welton, one of nine men and five women to graduate, will report to her first assignment as a junior officer aboard the NOAA hydrographic survey ship Rainier, which is home ported in Seattle, Wash.
“I am delighted to welcome Ensign Welton and the other 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.
As an officer aboard Rainier, Welton will be conducting hydrographic surveys of the seafloor in support of nautical charting, to determine water depths and identify obstructions and other dangers to navigation. The 231-ft. ship operates primarily in Alaskan coastal waters.
Welton grew up in Hereford, Aariz., and graduated from Buena High School in 1997. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She was most recently employed by the University of Arizona College of Public Health in Tucson. Welton was introduced to the NOAA Corps during college when she interned for NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations.
There are currently 257 officers in the NOAA Corps.
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 http://www.noaa.gov. Information about the NOAA Commissioned Corps can be found at: http://www.noaacorps.noaa.gov/.
NOTE TO EDITORS: A photograph of ENS
Welton is available online at