National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Active May 22, 1917 - present Country United States of America Type Uniformed service Size 379 officers
19 ships, 14 aircraft
Part of Department of Commerce Headquarters Silver Spring, MD Colors Blue, White March Forward with NOAA Engagements Commanders Director, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps RADM Jonathan W. Bailey Director, Marine and Aviation Operations Centers RDML Michael S. Devany Director, Commissioned Personnel Center CDR Anne Lynch Notable
VADM Henry A. Karo
RADM Evelyn J. Fields
RADM Samuel P. De Bow, Jr.
Aircraft flown Reconnaissance WP-3D, AC-500S, AC-695A, G-IV, CE-550, DHC-6
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps (styled the Commissioned Officer Corps under federal law and known informally as NOAA Corps) is one of seven federal uniformed services of the United States, which operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific agency within the Department of Commerce. The NOAA Corps is one of two uniformed services that only consist of commissioned officers and has no enlisted or warrant officer ranks.
The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, established on May 22, 1917 as the Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps due to the events of World War I, and then as the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) Corps from 1965–1970, traces its roots back to the former U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which dates to 1807 under President Thomas Jefferson. Coast and Geodetic Survey officers were commissioned so that under the laws of war, they could not be executed as spies if they were serving as surveyors on a battlefield. The first flag officer in the USC&GS Corps was Rear Admiral Raymond S. Patton when he was promoted from Captain to Rear Admiral in 1936. When the Coast and Geodetic Survey was transferred to the newly established Environmental Science Services Administration 13 July 1965 (per Reorganization Plan 2 of 1965), the corps was redesignated the Environmental Science Services Administration Corps (ESSA Corps). The first director of the ESSA Corps was Rear Admiral James C. Tison. Vice Admiral H. Arnold Karo was the first Deputy Administrator of ESSA. Karo was promoted to Vice Admiral 13 July 1965 to help lead in the establishment of the new ESSA. Vice Admiral Karo was the highest ranking officer in the history of the USC&GS/ESSA/NOAA Corps. The ESSA was transferred to newly established National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 3 October 1970 (per Reorganization Plan 4 of 1970), and the corps was redesignated the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps (NOAA Corps). The first director of the NOAA Corps was Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Harley D. Nygren. The NOAA Corps is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States and has over 300 commissioned officers and no enlisted or warrant officer ranks. The number of Rear Admiral billets in the NOAA Corps decreased from five to two between 1985 and 2010.
The NOAA Corps today provides a cadre of professionals trained in engineering, earth sciences, oceanography, meteorology, fisheries science, and other related disciplines. Officers operate ships, fly aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA.
The NOAA Corps uses the same commissioned officer ranks as the United States Navy and Coast Guard. While the rank of admiral has been authorized for use by the NOAA Corps, no officer in its history has held that rank. The rank of vice admiral exists but requires congressional approval for re-activation; the only officer to hold that rank was Henry A. Karo in 1965. Current NOAA Corps ranks rise from ensign to rear admiral, pay grades O-1 through O-8 respectively. NOAA Corps officers are appointed via direct commission and receive the same pay as other members of the uniformed services. They cannot hold a dual commission with another service but inter-service transfers are sometimes permitted.
Commissioned officer ranks and abbreviations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Rear Admiral
Captain O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 VADM RADM RDML CAPT Commander Lieutenant
Ensign O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1 CDR LCDR LT LTJG ENS
For formal service uniforms, the NOAA Corps wears the same Service Dress Blues and Service Dress Whites as the Navy, but with NOAA Corps insignia in place of Navy insignia. For daily work uniforms, the NOAA Corps wears the same Operational Dress Uniform (ODU) as the Coast Guard, but with NOAA Corps insignia in place of Coast Guard insignia.
An ODU uniform ball cap, with LCDR rank insignia
- NOAA ships and aircraft
- Awards and decorations of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
- ^ NOAA History A Sea Odyssey
- ^ History of the NOAA Corps
- ^ The Roots of the NOAA Corps
- ^ 33 USC 3005: Number of Authorized Commissioned Officers
- ^ New Commander to Direct NOAA’s Aircraft Operations
- ^ a b History of the NOAA Commissioned Corps
- ^ a b Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970, reprinted with amendments in 5 U.S.C. app. at 1557-61. Section 3(d) states: "The Commissioned Officer Corps of the Environmental Science Services Administration shall become the Commissioned Officer Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."
- ^ Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1965, reprinted in 5 U.S.C. app. at 1517
- ^  10 USC 201. Pay grades: assignment to; general rules
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