NOAA 99-R824
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani


In an official ceremony today, Rear Admiral Nicholas A. Prahl of the NOAA Corps took command as director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic and Pacific Marine Centers. He will manage both centers from his office in the Atlantic Marine Center in Norfolk, Va.

Prahl, who was confirmed for this position by the Senate in May and subsequently promoted to rear admiral, lower half, has been running the Atlantic Marine Center since his confirmation. He now takes over as director of the Pacific Marine Center in Seattle, Wash., as well, upon the July 1 retirement of Rear Adm. John C. Albright. Albright has been director of the Pacific center since May 1992 and the Atlantic center since July 1995, when management of both centers was put under one director. Albright commanded both centers from his Seattle office.

"Admiral Prahl is an outstanding and dedicated officer, and brings to the table a strong background in hydrography and nautical charting," said Rear Adm. Evelyn Fields, director of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations. "I have every confidence he will continue to uphold the high standards set by his predecessor, Rear Adm. John Albright, and maintain the quality of service the marine centers offer to NOAA programs for fisheries and oceanographic research and survey operations at sea."

Prahl's most recent assignment was as acting director of the Office of the Coast Survey, part of NOAA's National Ocean Service, where he managed the nation's nautical charting program.

The marine centers are part of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, the nation's seventh uniformed service. ONCO operates and manages NOAA's fleet of environmental research and survey ships and aircraft. The ships support the management of the nation's ocean fisheries; provide nautical charts for at-sea navigation to commercial, recreational, and military ships; and conduct coastal and deep water oceanography, including climate and global change studies. Of the 15 ships, eight are managed by the Atlantic Marine Center and seven by the Pacific Marine Center.

Prahl joined NOAA in 1970 and has served aboard the NOAA ships McArthur, George B. Kelez, Whiting, Fairweather, and Mt. Mitchell. Field assignments have involved hydrographic, geophysical, and oceanographic survey operations; shore assignments have included processing marine geophysical data, duty as operations and program liaison in a marine environmental study of the New York Bight, and duty
on the staff of the NOAA Administrator, where he was responsible for assisting in the implementation of the US/USSR and US/French oceanography bilaterals. Later he was assigned as chief of the Planning Division of the National Ocean Survey and then, following a reorganization, chief of the Planning Staff of Coast and Geodetic Survey. Prahl served as deputy director of the Coast and Geodetic Survey from August 1988 to August 1991, and as chief of the Marine Chart Division from August 1991 to February 1994. Prior to his most recent assignment ashore, he was the commanding officer of NOAA Ship Mt. Mitchell from February 1994 to May 1995.

Prahl received the unit citation for contributions while assigned to the Marine Ecosystems Analysis New York Bight Project and the Karo Award for outstanding work while assigned as operations officer aboard George B. Kelez. He received special achievement awards for outstanding performance in implementing the US/USSR and US/French oceanography bilaterals and for contributions while chief of the Planning Division of the National Ocean Survey, the Planning Staff of C&GS, and as deputy director of C&GS. He also has received the NOAA Corps Director's Ribbon for overall performance.

Prahl was born in Beverly, Mass. He received a B.A. in geology from Harvard University, an M.S. in geology from the University of Colorado, and an M.S. in computer science from the Johns Hopkins University. He is the son of Frederick A. Prahl Jr. and the late Dorothy M. Prahl of Danvers, Mass., and is married to the former Mary B. Bullitt of Philadelphia, Penn. They have a daughter, Sarah, and a son, Nicholas, and currently reside in Frederick, Md.