Director's Message


I've always believed in the adage "there are good ships and wood ships, but great ships are made from great crews." In keeping with this saying, I'd like to take this opportunity to honor the good work and accomplishments of a few of our shipmates.

First, I have to call attention to a humiliating failure on my part in order to extend my belated congratulations to LTJG Calandria DeCastro while at the same time begging her forgiveness. LTJG DeCastro, a member of my CPC crew, was promoted last month. Embarrassingly, I failed to recognize her on her promotion in the last installment of the Cyberflash. Congratulations Ms. DeCastro! LTJG DeCastro currently serves as Staff Officer at the USCG and NOAA Joint Officer Training Center located at the USCG Academy in New London, Connecticut, and is a critical member of the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center team. LTJG DeCastro is one of the "great ensign trainers" drilling new officer candidates in accountability and discipline. I think I need to stay after school and relearn some of the basic lessons she provides to our officer candidates in attention to detail and discipline.

On a more personal note, I wish to reiterate the congratulations offered by our Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, Benjamin Friedman to Mariel Hughes, Vessel Support Assistant at the Gulf Marine Support Facility in Pascagoula, Mississippi. I had the honor to work with Mariel while assigned to Pisces and although there are many franchise OMAO players keeping our fleet running, I can't think of a more deserving crew member for this honor. Mariel fulfills many roles in supporting our shipmates and helping to keep our marine operations running smoothly, she is critical to keeping fuel in our tanks, food in our reefers, gear in our lockers, getting crews to our ships and keeping them paid, and is a master of logistics, port security and "other duties as assigned." Bravo Zulu Mariel!

I wish to extend my sincere appreciation and congratulations to the Uniform and Awards Board (UAB) Chair CDR Kristie Twining and UAB member LT Jamie Park, CPC Officer Personnel Management Division (OPMD) staff member LTJG Carl Noblitt, and CPC IT support staff member Praveen Kalva for the development, testing, approval, and deployment of the new electronic version of NOAA Form 56-63 "Recommendation for Award." This achievement would not have been possible without CDR Twining's vision and commitment to awards process improvements and her dedication to her fellow officers to improve customer service, and the hard work by LT Park, LTJG Noblitt and Mr. Kalva. More details on the new form are in this installment of the Cyberflash.

Another noteworthy effort by the UAB has been underway for quite some time – a stem to stern review and update to NOAA Corps Directives' Chapter 12 – Uniforms. There are many people involved in this effort, and I hope I don't miss any of the key players. At the risk of missing specific individuals, I wish to express my appreciation to LT Jamie Park for logistics and overall photo shoot coordination, David Hall for your NOAA Corps photo shoot experience and equipment; Sherrita Irby for tirelessly pushing policy through approval processes and uniform "models" CAPT John Caskey (now retired!), CAPT Phil Hall, CDR Nicole Cabana, LCDR Fionna Matheson, LT Jamie Park, LT Lindsay Morrison, LT Zachary Cress, LTJG Carl Noblitt, and LTJG Calandria DeCastro. Special kudos to LTJG Noblitt who is the only officer I know who owns the complete Formal Dress uniform and is now prepared to represent the NOAA Corps when we receive an invite to attend a formal State dinner at the White House. Thank you everyone who has contributed to the hard work and played a role in the success of this effort to update our Directives to reflect our present day sea bag! I expect the revised Chapter 12 will be approved by the end of this month, just in time for the shift in combination covers for female officers to the ACC. More on this topic below.

A Flag Officer-sized BZ to RDML Gerd Glang, NOAA, Retired, RDML Shep Smith, NOAA and the Office of Coast Survey (OCS) team that made last Friday's formal retirement, promotion, and change of command ceremony a huge success. The ceremony was an extremely well-attended, heart-felt, and fitting farewell to RDML Glang for his leadership of OCS, and an equally excellent launch of RDML Smith as he embarks upon his assignment as the U.S. National Hydrographer and Director, Office of Coast Survey. Fair winds and following seas RDML Glang, and congratulations RDML Smith! Of course, the efficiency and precision (hallmarks of the NOAA Corps inherited from the USC&GS) in the execution of this time-honored nautical tradition would not have been possible without the team effort by our shipmates at OCS. Unfortunately I will likely miss a lot of people who were involved in pulling this event together, so those who I miss please take pride in your contributions and a job well done. BZ to CAPT Richard Brennan and LT Matt Forney, Jill Stoddard, Katy Reis, Kathleen Prugsawan, Neeraj Saraf, Jose Riveria, Kristen Crossett, Dawn Forsythe, Joe Courange, RADM Sam Debow, NOAA, Retired, CAPT Guy Noll, NOAA, Retired, CAPT Jim Crocker, CDR Holly Jablonski, CDR Nicole Cabana, LCDR Madeleine Adler, LT Andrew Ostapenko, LT Adam Reed, LT Anthony Klemm and ENS Marybeth Head. Of course, a huge thank you to RDML Shep Smith and his family for hosting one of the best wetting downs I've had the pleasure of attending. Knowing RDML Smith as well as I do, I know he's been one to set a high bar of performance. His wetting down was no exception. The 11 potato gun salute for RDML Glang was especially poignant and fitting.

On perhaps the most significant note, congratulations to the new Commanding Officer and the relieved Master of NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter - LCDR Lindsay Kurelja and Master Donn Pratt. I'm certain there were many people who worked hard to pull that Change of Command together. There's no doubt in my mind that Mariel was one of the many who contributed their time and effort to the time-honored custom.

What we choose to take the time and effort to honor and celebrate reflects our culture and what we value as a service. These recent milestones, achievements, and accomplishments were the result of hard work and dedication by many people working together to perform and achieve our mission. These events clearly demonstrate to me that we value discipline, accountability, performance, results, our service, and each other. Ferdinand Hassler would be proud. I sure am.

Semper serviens,

CAPT Amilynn E. Adams, NOAA
Director, CPC

On the Horizon

08 September 2016 NOAA Ship Nancy Foster Change of Command
17 October 2016 REFTRA Begins
20 October 2016 BOTC-128 Billet Night
2017 NOAA Corps Centennial Events
20 May 2017 NOAA Corps "Century of Service" Gala Ball

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

LTJG Eileen Pye 02 Sep 2016
CAPT Eric Berkowitz 01 Oct 2016
CAPT Adam Dunbar 01 Oct 2016
CAPT John Caskey 01 Oct 2016
LTJG Shannon Hefferan 14 Oct 2016
LT Lindsay Morrison 30 Nov 2016
LTJG Kasey Sims 30 Nov 2016
LT Eric Younkin 01 Dec 2016
ENS Samuel McKay 16 Dec 2016

History: Horsepower

"A dog may be man's best friend, but the horse wrote history."

In the early days of geodetic survey field work, horses and mules were essential -- so much so that the first edition of regulations for the USC&GS commissioned service, written in 1919, made no mention of automobiles or trucks, but required a "Report on Horses and Mules." Field parties were often doing tough work in rugged terrain, and it required a great deal of grit and stamina from humans and horses alike. During a 1950 survey in Yellowstone National Park, a horse fell, rolled 150 ft down a mountainside and survived. Others were less fortunate, giving their lives in service.

In 1938 on Mount Nebo, Utah, a field party horse suffered the farthest fall of 700 ft off a collapsed trail section. In the Aleutian Islands, hydrographic ship personnel relied on horses and mules while engaged in tidal observations, topographic mapping, and triangulation. On the northwest coast of Unimak Island is Nipper Cove, which the USC&GS named for a pack horse that was accidentally killed during 1939 survey work. In the 1950s, horses and mules were supplanted by helicopters for both hydrographic and geodetic survey work.

P-3 Pilot and Nav, Arriving!

In the midst of hurricane flight operations for Tropical Storm Hermine, LT Dan Freeman and LT Pete Rees were commissioned in to the NOAA Corps at the Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. These officers join our ranks as our newest P-3 pilot (LT Rees) and Navigator (LT Freeman.) I can't think of a better way to start a NOAA Corps career than by taking the Oath of Office and jumping in to the battle rhythm of hurricane research and reconnaissance operations. Welcome aboard Lieutenants Freeman and Rees!

Administrative Assistant Arriving!

CPC now has a Yeoman! (I think I just heard a few grunts of jealous envy from shipboard XOs and COs) Ms. Trista Dunlap recently reported aboard as Administrative Assistant to the Director, CPC. After clearing well over several hundred voicemail messages from the CPC main phone lines, Ms. Dunlap is ready and waiting for your call and will help route your requests to the appropriate CPC staff member. Additionally, Ms. Dunlap will be playing a crucial role in CPC business operations and processes. While still not sailing with a full complement, Ms. Dunlap's addition to CPC crew is a crucial fill and will assist greatly in providing better customer service to our shipmates. Welcome aboard Trista!

Medical Compliance

The rate of NOAA Corps officers not medically qualified due to lapsed documentation has dropped to its lowest level in recent memory. Less than 4 months ago, non-compliance stood at a completely shocking and utterly unacceptable 33%. Today, the rate is approximately 10%. The Chief, Medical Administration Branch (MAB) has a draft disciplinary letter template at the ready for those officers who remain medically disqualified due to lapsed documentation. Amnesty for expired medical documentation has expired and it is now a matter of timing whether the remaining non-compliant officers receive a disciplinary letter or submit their paperwork soon enough to preempt disciplinary action. Officers who have failed to manage their medical readiness are highly encouraged to turn-to and complete any outstanding requirements. Officers with questions about medical qualifications are encouraged to contact LT Sharon Downey, Chief Medical Administration Branch at, 301-713-7718.

Note – Medical information must still be sent to CPC manually via secure file transfer, secure fax, your OPF Add Document function (select Document Type "Medical/Dental"), or mail with medical forms contained in an interior sealed envelope marked "Officer Medical Information, Chief, MAB eyes only."

Presidential Transition

President Obama has signaled that he wants the upcoming transition of administrations to be the smoothest in history. While the transition of Presidential power can create uncertainty and anxiety for people for a variety of reasons, it's important to note that the peaceful transfer of power and seamless continuity of operations is one of the hallmarks of our democratic system of government. To facilitate this process, the Department of Commerce has created a website to help answer questions regarding the transition. The website includes the Executive Order on facilitating a Presidential transition, bureau points of contact, and links to relevant ethics rules and guidelines. The site will be updated on an ongoing basis to address frequently asked questions. To access the Commerce Department's transition website, visit

Blended Retirement System

The new Blended Retirement System is coming. Officers with less than 12 years of service as of Deccember 31, 2017 will be eligible to enroll. A basic overview of the system is available here. Eligible NOAA Corps officers and their dependents will be able to avail themselves of the financial and educational resources available through the other uniformed services as the roll-out of this new retirement system advances. Stay tuned and choose wisely!

From the UAB Desk:

NOAA Corps Recommendation for Award Form Update

The UAB, with CPC's support, is rolling out a new and improved award form, NOAA Form 56-63. The new form allows for digital signatures and in turn should facilitate a more timely submission and approval process. Award submissions will be accepted using the new form after the next meeting of the UAB on September 9th. Some key differences between the old paper form and the new electronic form:

  • The electronic form must be fully downloaded before completing. It cannot be completed from web view mode
  • This form can be digitally signed and passed to the next reviewer via email
  • There are now drop down menus for many of the fields
  • Reasons for award: PCS and RET have been removed. ACH and SVC are the only reasons for award.

Please continue to send the forms directly to the Uniform and Awards Board (UAB) via email at

Additionally all awards go through a UAB approval (the UAB meets monthly at the start of each month,) CPC Processing (1-2 weeks,) and signature phase (2 weeks.) Additionally some awards require a signature from the Under Secretary (2 weeks.) These processing times are to serve as a reminder that submitting an award early is your best bet for a timely turn around.

Female Officer Uniform Changes:

IMPORTANT REMINDER FOR ALL FEMALE OFFICERS: All female Navy officers and chiefs must begin wearing their new headgear by 31 October 2016. The NOAA Corps officers are expected to follow the same timetable for these combination cover changes.

The NOAA Corps plans to follow the Navy's shift to more gender-neutral uniforms beginning in the Fall of 2016. The combination cover for female Navy officers and chiefs is being phased out as women shift to the same combination covers authorized for males. The combination cover shift is mandatory for female Navy officers and chiefs by October 31, 2016. The NOAA Corps plans to implement the same timetable to for transitioning to the new combination cover. These uniform changes have been incorporated into the revision of Chapter 12 of the NOAA Corps Directives.

The alternate combination cover (ACC) is currently available online at the NEX website. You will need to type "ACC" in the search window. It is also available at many Navy Exchange uniform shops. Popular sizes have been selling out quickly, so be a prudent seaman and take early action to refresh this sea bag item:

The following quotes are from a Navy Times article. You can read the full story here. Additional changes mentioned in this Navy Times article will be forthcoming and guidance will be provided soon. Please email the UAB at with any questions or concerns.

"Women who like the fit can wear the existing, and formerly all-male, combination cover, or they can wear the new "alternate" combination cover (ACC) that's available now at many Navy Exchanges and online."

"The ACC is similar in design to the current male combination cover, but is smaller with an oval — vice round — opening to facilitate a more comfortable and stable fit on the head when worn…."