NOAA 99-R835
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani


Capt. Dean Smehil, NOAA Corps, takes command today of the NOAA ship Miller Freeman, relieving current commanding officer Cmdr. Gary Petrae.

Miller Freeman, a 215-ft. stern trawler home ported in Seattle, Wash., engages in stock assessment of fisheries and related oceanographic processes in the waters of the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and north Pacific Ocean.

Smehil began his career with the NOAA Corps in 1975. He has served in a variety of sea and land assignments, including tours aboard the NOAA ships Researcher, Townsend Cromwell, and Albatross IV, with increasing levels of responsibility that included command of the Albatross IV; research in ocean modeling and fisheries; hydrography; administration at the Atlantic Marine Center; head of the Interagency Policy Branch in the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, and the Navy's liaison to the Integrated Program Office for convergence of civil and military polar-orbiting environmental satellites; and most recently as executive officer of the National Marine Fisheries Service's Office of Habitat Conservation.

Smehil, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., currently resides in Silver Spring, Md., with his wife, Joan Parker Smehil; daughter, Caitlin; and son, John. He holds a bachelor's degree in physical oceanography (1974) from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., and a master's degree in environmental science (1999) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. As a NOAA Corps officer, he also attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., in 1988. Smehil's personal awards include the Commerce Department's highest honor, the Gold Medal; NOAA Corps Commendation Medal; and six Special Achievement Awards, among others. He is active in the Hydrographic Society, the Marine Technology Society, and the Society for the Advancement of Military Engineers.

As part of the NOAA fleet of research ships and aircraft, Miller Freeman is operated and managed by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers. The NOAA Corps is a uniformed service of the United States, composed of officers – all scientists or engineers – who provide NOAA with an important blend of operational, management, and technical skills that support the agency's programs at sea, in the air, and ashore.