NOAA 2004-R806
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


Annapolis, Md., resident Lt. Daniel Karlson, NOAA Corps, has been named 2003 Junior Officer of the Year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Association of Commissioned Officers. Karlson serves as operations support officer for NOAA’s Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) Program and the U.S. Mission Control Center located at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md.

The COSPAS-SARSAT system is a group of NOAA and Russian satellites that work together to detect distress signals anywhere in the world from personal locator beacons and beacons aboard ships and aircraft. Since implemented in 1982, the system has saved more than 17,000 people worldwide. In 2003, 224 people were rescued in the United States alone.

Karlson was commended for his outstanding work in leading the NOAA effort to implement a new SARSAT Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) service in the United States - a service that will help save the lives of hikers, skiers, hunters, and other outdoor users in distress. Karlson also has been instrumental in increasing public awareness nationally and internationally of PLBs and SARSAT. As a direct result of his work, an American hunter learned about PLBs through an educational Web site, bought one, and became the first person in the contiguous U.S. to be rescued with a PLB when he was stranded in a snow storm.

Karlson’s work with NOAA’s marine operations and small boat program to equip personnel with the use of Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (PEPIRBs) was also commended. These beacons will be used aboard NOAA research ships and small boats. Karlson also recently coordinated the successful joint United Nations/United States conference on satellite search and rescue, which brought together officials from 24 nations throughout the Americas to explore the means of bringing the space technology to developing countries in the Western Hemisphere.

According to Ajay Mehta, SARSAT program manager, who cited numerous other accomplishments, “Lt. Karlson’s initiative, work ethic, and overall job performance have had a tremendous impact on the SARSAT program, and have highlighted the program to NOAA leadership and the general public.”

Karlson was commissioned into the NOAA Corps in 1999. He served as navigation officer aboard the NOAA ship RAINIER, which conducts hydrographic surveys in Alaskan waters for the production of nautical charts, prior to his current assignment with SARSAT.

Karlson, 29, is the son of Karl (now deceased) and Bonnie Karlson of Pottstown, Pa. Karl Karlson served with the Pottstown Police Department for 10 years. Bonnie Karlson Ballaron now resides in Parrish, Fla.

Karlson graduated from the University of Buffalo, N.Y., in 1997 with a degree in geography. He currently resides in Annapolis, Md. He plans to be married in May to Shawna K. Bell, a former NOAA Corps officer.

The NOAA Corps is the smallest of the nation’s seven uniformed services. NOAA Corps officers operate and manage the agency’s fleet of research ships and aircraft, and serve as operational experts across all divisions of NOAA.

The Junior Officer of the Year award is an honor bestowed annually by each federal uniformed service on its top junior officer.