Happy 100th to the most forgotten service

This week is the 100th birthday of one of the most unsung of the U.S.’s seven uniformed services– the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

USS Albatross, or as NOAA thinks of her now, Albatross I

Dating back to the Coast & Geodetic Survey and United States Fish Commission which used seconded Navy ships for its blue water work (see former Warship Wednesday alumni, the USC&GSS Pathfinder and USS Albatross) and Army officers for land surveys (the first commander of the Corps was an Army colonel from the intelligence branch), the force today amounts to some 400 uniformed officers who operate the agency’s dozen ships (some as large as frigates) and half-dozen aircraft including two converted P-3 Orions used as Hurricane Hunters.

NOAA Ship (NOAAS) Albatross IV

They are the smallest of the U.S. uniformed services and, while they have a provision for a single O-9, the branch typically exists with a RADM as a senior officer. They wear Navy dress blues and dress whites and Coast Guard working uniforms, all with NOAA devices. Since 2013, they have conducted their 18-week OCS at the USCGA in New London, Conn.

NOAA 42 “Kermit” (N42RF) is a Lockheed WP-3D Orion used by the service for the past quarter-century.

The corps was born in battle.

From NOAA:

With America’s entry into the World War I, a commissioned service of the C&GS was formed on May 22, 1917 to ensure the rapid assimilation of C&GS technical skills for defense purposes. During World War II, officers and civilians of the C&GS produced nautical and aeronautical charts, provided critical geospatial information to artillery units, and conducted reconnaissance surveys.

Continuing in the tradition of their C&GS predecessors, NOAA Corps officers continue to play a vital role in the acquisition and analysis of environmental data that aid NOAA and other agencies in meeting the national security, economic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. NOAA Corps officers command ships that scan the seafloor for potential hazards to shipping, monitor oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, and study ocean resources. They also pilot NOAA’s highly specialized aircraft that collect environmental and geographic data necessary for weather and flood prediction, nautical charting, disaster response, and resource management.

As noted by John Hopewell of the Washington Post’s Weather Gang:

There are two clear advantages of having nearly 400 uniformed specialists. Unlike civilians, they can be moved rapidly from project to project and — in the case of war — can be deployed quickly to support the military itself.

In fact, that’s why the NOAA Corps was established as a commissioned officer group 100 years ago. If one of the officers is captured by an enemy, they could not be executed as a spy — something their civilian predecessors risked.

The corps operates and maintains much of NOAA’s hardware, including Hurricane Hunter aircraft fisheries ships (but not satellites). They conduct special missions after disasters, such as the 2016 blizzard or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to gather data and provide support. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the corps surveyed the seafloors of New York City and Virginia channels and ports for hazards.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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