Sunday, October 14, 2012




NOAA Ship Fairweather.

 The NOAA Corps is probably the least known of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air force are uniformed services and also armed services in the Department of Defense. The U.S.Coast Guard is a uniformed service, law enforcement agency, and armed service in the department of Homeland Security, and a separate service within the Navy in times of war or when so ordered by the President. The U.S.Public Health Service is a uniformed service , naval in character. Its uniformed members wear naval type uniforms and are assigned naval rank. The USPHS does not carry arms but is charged with the more arduous duties related to guarding our ports of entry  from invasion by pests and disease, providing medical services to the U.S.Coast Guard , assisting the Department of Homeland security in guarding against biological attack, curbing epidemics, and augmenting the naval medical corps in time of war. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Officer Corps (NOAA CORPS) is the smallest uniformed service. With less than 400 uniformed commissioned officers it too is naval in character, rank, and uniforms. The primary duty of the NOAA corps is to operate the NOAA fleet of research and charting vessels and carry out the more arduous research duties of the service such as camping out on ice flows to gather data,, flying into hurricanes, anything involving diving, and important projects in coastal regions where time is short, pressure is high, and living conditions not to the liking of the typical civilian. The Corps also augments the Navy and Coast Guard particularly in oceanographic science missions as needed war or not. Some NOAA ships were armed in WWII and some may carry small arms for self defense in high risk areas today. The service traces its history as a continuous organization back to the "Coast Survey" of 1807 which was largely inspired by the Lewis and Clark "Corps of Discovery"which returned the year before the Coast Survey" was started. The primary work product of the NOAA corps is the gathering of th raw data that goes into the NOAA produced navigation charts and navigation publications such as the "COAST PILOT". If you are a young physically fit person interested in a career in oceanography and navigation use the link below to learn more about the NOAA Corps:


 The NOAA mission has been described as :

" understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources."

 This summer ice cover melt in the high Arctic was record breaking. All predictions are for more reduced summer ice conditions far into the future. This means much more interest in Arctic ocean navigation in season not just by naval forces, and scientific vessels, by also by ordinary shipping taking a short cut from the North Pacific to North Atlantic ports,and even tourist voyages, and of course oil exploration. The routes used will cover many areas that were last charted by Capt. James Cook around 1778. It's up to NOAA and its Corps to change that situation. In 2011 NOAA issued its' Arctic Nautical Charting Plan, a major effort to update Arctic nautical charts for the shipping lanes , approaches, and ports along the Alaskan coast. In July the FAIRWEATHER began a 30 day mission to survey a track line along the coast to validate information submitted by commercial and naval vessels and identify areas in need of survey by NOAA assets. The opening of the High Arctic to commercial shipping is posing a challenge to the U.S. Government. while the Coast Guard is experimenting and researching ways to establish a persistent presence in this harsh though moderating environment the NOAA corps and its civilian seamen is still doing what Lewis and Clark did in the early days of the Republic, blazing the trail. If you would like more information on the voyage of the FAIRWEATHER click on this link:

To learn more about NOAA in general click here: :
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