NOAA 2004-R842
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Galveston, Texas, resident NOAA Ensign Tracy Hamburger is one of five women and 12 men who graduated on Nov. 18 from the Basic Officer Training Class of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps. The NOAA Corps, a part of the U.S. Commerce Department’s NOAA, is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services.

“I am delighted to welcome these bright and inspired young officers into the ranks of the NOAA Corps,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They have the high-level education and motivation essential to support NOAA’s mission and further our goals.”

Last week’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 one of the nation’s seven uniformed services (the others are the four military services, Coast Guard and Public Health Service). NOAA Corps officers manage and operate the agency’s fleet of 17 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. The NOAA Corps currently is composed of 276 officers, including the 17 new graduates.

“The NOAA Corps is an essential component of NOAA,” said Rear Admiral Samuel P. De Bow Jr., director of the NOAA Corps and NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations. “We operate ships and aircraft that enable the NOAA line offices to conduct their research, and NOAA Corps officers can work in any of these line offices throughout their careers. This is the only component of NOAA that allows such a diverse and exciting career, and can take an officer anywhere from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii or Alaska, to Antarctica, from the face of a glacier to exploring the deep sea, to flying into the eye of a hurricane.”

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 seven NOAA-owned vessels.

“The NOAA Corps represents a highly mobile and skilled workforce. We have been very impressed with the qualifications this class in particular brought into the Basic Officer Training Class and we look forward to working with them throughout their careers as they serve NOAA and the nation,” De Bow said.

Each officer is assigned to a research ship for a two-year tour. After graduation, the officers report to their ships and begin specialized training in shipboard operations in support of NOAA’s ecosystem, climate, weather and water, and commerce and transportation goals through a variety of fisheries, oceanographic, atmospheric and hydrographic research.

Hamburger will be serving aboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster, a 187-ft. research vessel that conducts a wide variety of coastal oceanographic research projects along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The ship is home ported in Charleston, S.C.

Hamburger graduated from Texas A&M University-Galveston in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a USCG Third Mate’s License, Unlimited Oceans. She served as a mate aboard a merchant vessel in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom prior to being commissioned into the NOAA Corps.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events, promoting safe commerce and transportation and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


Photos and brief biographies of the graduates:

NOAA Commissioned Corps: