NOAA 2006-R811
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
NOAA News Releases 2006
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the graduation today of 12 men and four women from Basic Officer Training Class 109 of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

New recruits must have degrees in science, mathematics, or engineering befor-e entering basic officer training. NOAA Corps officers manage and operate the agency’s fleet of 18 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 one 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 three 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-and-a-half year tour.

There are currently 287 officers in the Corps, including the 16 new graduates listed below:

Ensign Caryn Arnold
Waltham, Massachusetts

Ensign Megan Nadeau
Lewiston, Maine

ENS Matthew Burton
Greensboro, North Carolina
Ensign Carl Rhodes
Bayfield, Colorado

ENS James Falkner
Bremerton, Washington

Ensign Christopher Skapin
Birmington, Alabama
Ensign Mark Frydrych
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Ensign Joshua Slater
Thurmont, Maryland
Ensign Justin Keesee
Surprise, Arizona`
Ensign Timothy Smith
Barnstable, Massachusetts
Ensign Jennifer King
Long Beach, California
Ensign Ryan Wattam
Mobile, Alabama
Ensign Benjamin LaCour
Fairhope, Alabama
Ensign Marc Weekley
Tampa, Florida
Ensign Chad Meckley
Denver, Colorado
Ensign Phoebe Woodworth
Gladstone, MIchigan

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global Earth observation network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:

For photos and brief biographies of the graduates, visit our Web site at:

Information about the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps can be found at: