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NOAA Corps – A Long History of Service to the Nation

In connection with American Heroes Week (July 24 – 28, 2017), the U.S. Department of Commerce is proud to highlight its own American heroes and the important role Commerce agencies play in serving and protecting American communities.

Did you know the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a corps of commissioned officers, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States?

NOAA Corps officers play a vital role in the acquisition and analysis of environmental data to aid our nation in meeting the security, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Collectively, they have been and continue to be true heroes to our nation.

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, precision mapping and charting, disaster response and resource management.

On Monday, July 24, 2017, eighteen officer candidates were sworn into the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps training program as Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC) 130. The officer candidates of BOTC 130 are the first class to be sworn in since the 100th anniversary of the creation of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. They now embark on a challenging 19-week curriculum that prepares them to support NOAA’s vital missions to protect life and property by understanding and predicting changes in the climate, weather, ocean and coastlines. NOAA Corps recruits train alongside Coast Guard officer candidates at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, before receiving their first assignment.

Both NOAA and the NOAA Corps have a long history of service to the Nation. NOAA traces its history back to the formation of the Survey of the Coast in 1807. Faced with tough national security and economic challenges and a natural world governed by powerful and mysterious forces that often threatened life, property and commerce, President Thomas Jefferson created the Survey of the Coast in 1807 to support the nation’s defense, promote the well-being of its citizens and unlock nature’s secrets. The new agency’s mission was to chart the nation’s coastal waters to ensure that ships could move civilians, troops and materials safely.

During the next 150 years, the Survey of the Coast (later called the Coast & Geodetic Survey) would fulfill its mission in war as well as in peacetime. With America’s entry into World War I, a commissioned service of the Coast & Geodetic Survey (CG&S) 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.

Today, the work of the C&GS – and more – is conducted NOAA and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps – one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The direct descendants of the C&GS, NOAA and the NOAA Corps work every day on land, in the air and on the sea to keep the nation secure and productive by providing products and services that support maritime domain awareness; help ensure safe passage of commercial and military traffic on our nation’s waterways; warn mariners, aviators, and the public of severe weather; aid search and rescue efforts; and conserve and protect our natural resources. They are true American heroes.

Bureaus and Offices