Director's Message


This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Kansas City for the Marine Operations Leadership Summit (MOLS.) It's always great to reconnect with my salty shipmates - i.e., the actual real-life professional mariners and Marine Operations personnel that keep our ships safely at sea conducting NOAA's mission. This year's gathering-formerly-known-as "Command Seminar" was attended by department heads as well as the XOs. Based on my memory and nearly 23 years of service this is a first, and a significant step toward a more inclusive team-oriented approach to marine operations.

Through out the week, I was struck by the energy, enthusiasm and pride in mission in the discussions and break outs, but I was even more impressed with the cohesiveness of this group. Perhaps it was due to the validation of the critical leadership roles our professional mariners provide aboard our ships by including them in this year's MOLS. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that we're a relatively small group of shipmates who, by virtue of living and working with each other over many years, have developed a type of "ohana" based on the special bond created through shared experiences, common values, and the rigors and risks of serving aboard ships at sea. Or perhaps it was because while we can be passionate in our opinions, we all possess a fundamental respect for and trust in one another, and truly appreciate not just our respective roles in keeping our ships sailing, but each individual as the person they are.

During the week, conversations and comments pertaining to teamwork, inclusion, respect, and commitment were had. Words like "respect," "caring," "trust," "inspire," and "inclusion" were heard frequently and felt by the majority, if not all.

While we are in the thick of the holiday season, and as we prepare to end 2016, I want to expand on one of the themes in RDML Lopez's talk at MOLS. The Admiral discussed time. Time is a commodity. Look at how we speak of it - "I spent way too much time on chart corrections." "What did you do with your time on leave?" "We don't have time for that CTD station." "Can I have a minute of your time?"

The sudden and unexpected passing of RET Ricardo Guevara, LCDR Greg Schweitzer, and Ms. Allison Routt (BOTC-84, NMFS civilian employee) has shocked and impacted a lot of us. We never could have imagined that their time with us was coming to such an abrupt end. The grief from their unexpected loss combined with this time of year provides fertile ground for thoughts of hopelessness, or can exacerbate chronic emotional pain. So please, take care of yourself and spend some time on yourself...whatever that looks like.

And if you're feeling the holiday blues for any reason, know that you're not alone and you're not broken. Put down the phone, the tablet, the remote, and unplug. Get outside the echo chamber of your head and reach out to someone. Seek counseling, get pastoral care, talk to a shipmate or family. There is no shame or stigma in seeking help. (I think I'm a prime example of that!) Don't be so hard on yourself. Know that you are allowed to be human, and that includes the time you spend at work. Emotion is not only allowed, it is expected and I encourage it. Spend time with people who care about you; your ohana whoever that may be - blood relatives, adopted, or intentional.

I never want to find myself wishing that I had more time with anyone else ever again. If you're struggling, know that from what I saw and felt from my shipmates at MOLS, there are plenty of people who are glad you're here, care about you despite whatever quirks or flaws you THINK you have, and would do anything for you to see you underway again in the near future. I'm extremely grateful for my NOAA ohana. You make me proud to be a part of this organization every day.

Semper serviens,

CAPT Amilynn E. Adams, NOAA
Director, CPC

On the Horizon

09-13 Jan 2017 OMAO Mid-Grade Week One
23-27 Jan 2017 OMAO Mid-Grade Week Two
30 Jan - 3 Feb 2017 XO Immersion
2017 NOAA Corps Centennial Events
20 May 2017 NOAA Corps "Century of Service" Anniversary Dinner

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

ENS Samuel McKay 16 Dec 2016
LT Lindsay Morrison 30 Dec 2016
LT Timothy Smith 01 Jan 2017
LCDR Guinevere Lewis 31 Jan 2017
ENS Lander Ver Hoef 28 Feb 2017
LT Amber Payne 01 Mar 2017

History: The Stars Among Us

Although NOAA Corps has had a number of admirals throughout its history, it is an anomaly that the "Father of the Commissioned Corps", Ernest Lester Jones, was only commissioned as a captain and remained so until his death in 1929. His successor as Director of the Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS), Raymond Stanton Patton, also served initially as a captain until advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral in March, 1936. Patton was the first C&GS admiral, and given present concerns with sea level rise, it is noteworthy that he was an expert on shore and beach erosion and preservation. Patton was appointed to the Committee of the National Research Council on Shoreline Investigations in 1925 and served as its chairman. He was also a founding member of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association of which he was President from 1929 until his death in 1937. Leo Otis Colbert was appointed the next Director and served as leader of the C&GS throughout WW II. He was promoted to Rear Admiral upon becoming Director in early 1938 and served until 1950. In 1942, reflecting the expanded responsibilities of the C&GS , the Assistant Director, Captain Jean Hawley, was also promoted to Rear Admiral. The Coast and Geodetic Survey and its descendant organizations have had over twenty-five Rear Admirals ever since. Two of those officers rose to the rank of Vice Admiral, H. Arnold Karo, and more recently, Michael S. Devany.

Presentation: History of the NOAA Corps

As the NOAA Corps Centennial approaches, you may be curious about the NOAA Corps' heritage, how we became a uniformed service, and who some of the key figures were that shaped our service.

On 02 December, the DC Chapter of the NOAA Corps ACO hosted a lunch-and-learn where CAPT Albert "Skip" Theberge, NOAA (Ret.) gave an amazing presentation on the history of the NOAA Corps. We recorded the presentation, and it is available on the NOAA Central Library's archive site, linked below. Under 2016 Brown Bags, look for "A Look Back at the History of the NOAA Corps" Enjoy!

Holiday Parties and Gifts

Happy holidays! As you prepare for holiday parties and gift exchanges, please keep in mind ethics rules that apply to the acceptance of gifts, invitations, and gift exchanges between employees. For example, there are restrictions on supervisors accepting gifts from subordinates, political appointees accepting gifts from lobbyists, and Commerce employees accepting gifts or invitations from contractors, grantees, and others with matters before the Department, except in certain circumstances. For a summary of the applicable rules, click here.

Other useful information is available on the Ethics Law and Programs Division webpage at:, including a form for a supervisor to approve an employee's attendance at a holiday party, reception, or other widely-attended event (if certain criteria are met). This form is also available using the following link:

If you have a question about holiday gifts or parties or other ethics matters, please contact an ethics official for advice by calling 202-482-5384 or by emailing