NOAA 99-R809
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani


The first class of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps recruits in four years will graduate today from rigorous three-month basic officer training at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., NOAA said today. The officers are scheduled to begin their first ship assignments on April 1.

The NOAA Corps is the nation's seventh uniformed service. NOAA Corps officers manage and operate the agency's fleet of 15 research ships and 14 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.

"We have an exceptional group of men and women recruits at Kings Point, and are delighted that they have made the commitment to serve in the NOAA Corps," said Rear Admiral John C. Albright, acting director of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations. "They are highly motivated to excel as scientists and officers, and we have every confidence that each will make an important contribution to the success of NOAA's programs."

New NOAA Corps recruits – who must have degrees in science, engineering or mathematics – are sent to Kings Point 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 two NOAA-owned ships.

Once assigned to a vessel for a two-year tour, each officer will work with a senior officer on the bridge and also begin specialized training in hydrographic surveys, fishery research and trawling, or oceanic and atmospheric research, depending on the vessel assigned.

Of the seven women and ten men recruited, four with previous experience were exempted from the full 12 weeks of training and have already reported to their first assignments. Two are aviators - a navigator and helicopter pilot - who are assigned to NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. The other two are licensed mates, and are currently working on board NOAA fisheries vessels. The remaining 13 will graduate on March 25.

Of the 13, seven have been assigned to NOAA's three hydrographic survey ships that survey the coastal areas of the nation to develop or update nautical charts. Of the remaining six, four have been assigned to fisheries research ships and two to oceanographic research ships.

Recruitment for the second class, planned for late summer, is already underway. The NOAA Corps expects to have two recruiting classes a year until a full officer contingent is in place. There are currently 240 officers in the Corps, including the 17 new recruits. NOAA Corps has been mandated by Congress to maintain a minimum of 264 and a maximum of 299 officers.

For brief biographies on the 13 recruits graduating today, visit our Web site at:

Information about the Office of NOAA Corps Operations can be found at: