NOAA 99-R823
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani


James Rowe, a civilian mariner in the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, has taken command of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ship Oregon II, relieving Lt. Cmdr. Steve Thompson, NOAA Corps, who has commanded the vessel since July 22, 1998. Rowe is now one of two civilian masters who currently command NOAA vessels.

"Mr. Rowe has a long and outstanding record of service aboard NOAA ships, and I have every confidence that as master of Oregon II, he will continue to support NOAA's fisheries programs with the utmost professionalism," said RAdm. Evelyn Fields, director of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations.

"Lt. Cmdr. Steve Thompson has done an exemplary job as the ship's commanding officer and has every reason to be proud of his accomplishments," Fields said. "During his tenure, not only was Oregon II the first U.S. government fisheries research ship to enter the Port of Havana since Castro took power in the late 1950s, the ship recently was instrumental in spotting and saving the lives of three mariners whose boat had overturned in choppy seas."

After a four-year stint with the Navy, Rowe joined NOAA in January 1977 and has since worked his way up the ranks to his present position as master of Oregon II. He began as a quartermaster aboard Whiting, then went on to the Researcher in August 1977 as chief quartermaster. In May 1986 he joined Oregon II as third officer (watch), was promoted to second officer (watch) in November 1986 and to first officer (watch) in March 1996.

Rowe received his Masters (1600 ton upon oceans) license from U.S.C.G., Miami, Fla., in 1989. He attended State University of New York at Stonybrook, graduating with a B.A. in earth and space sciences. Originally from New Jersey, he has resided for the past 13 years in Ocean Springs, Miss., with his wife Mary.

A part of the NOAA fleet of research ships and aircraft, Oregon II is operated and managed by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers. The 170-ft. vessel, homeported in Pascagoula, Miss., is uniquely outfitted to conduct fisheries research, and operates 243 days at sea a year through the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and along the Atlantic coast.