FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
Fields is first woman, and first African American, to hold this position
Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields today formally assumed command of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations and the NOAA Commissioned Corps. She is the first woman and first African American to hold this position.
Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley, who oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, said, "I am proud to have such a visionary
and outstanding officer as Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields lead the
NOAA Corps, which so recently distinguished itself through courage,
expertise, and professionalism during a national tragedy. Rear
Adm. Fields has broken a lot of new ground throughout her career
with the Corps, and has a proven track record as a manager and
leader both at sea and ashore. She was the first African American
to be commissioned in the Corps and the first woman to command
an ocean-going federal ship. Under her guidance, while deputy
administrator of NOAA's National Ocean Service, NOAA's
nautical charting mission took a quantum leap forward. From
technology improvements in data acquisition capabilities to development
of raster and vector charts and improved production time, NOAA
is now able to create top quality charts much faster than before."
President Bill Clinton nominated Capt. Fields for the position of NOAA Corps director on Jan. 19. The Senate confirmed her nomination on May 6; she was promoted to rear admiral, upper half, by NOAA Administrator D. James Baker the next day, and began serving as director at that time. Today's assumption of command ceremony was formal recognition of her new position.
"The NOAA Corps and its civilian operations
office are integral to the success of NOAA's mission," Daley
said. "We've just witnessed what a valuable asset they are
to the nation during a time of crisis. But it's just as important
to know that each day these
Fields began her career with NOAA in 1972 as a civilian cartographer at the Atlantic Marine Center in Norfolk, Va., and in1973, shortly after NOAA began recruiting women, was the first African-American woman to join the NOAA Corps. She is now the most senior woman in the Corps.
During her 26 years as a NOAA Corps officer, Fields has served in a variety of staff and operational billets with increasing responsibilities. Most notably, she was the first woman to serve as commanding officer on a NOAA ship, the McArthur, as well as the first woman to command a federal ship for an extended period within the nation's uniformed services. She was selected to be the second U.S. Exchange Hydrographer with Canada. Most recently, she served as deputy assistant administrator of NOAA's National Ocean Service.
The Office of NOAA Corps Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers, operates and manages the agency's fleet of research ships and aircraft; officers also support NOAA programs through diverse shoreside positions. The NOAA Corps is the nation's smallest uniformed service. Officersall scientists or engineersprovide NOAA with an important blend of operational, management and technical skills that support the agency's programs at sea, in the air, and ashore.