Director's Message


I hope you've had a restful holiday season. In my last message, I recognized some of our shipmates who were standing the watch over the holidays. Unfortunately, I missed one. Among those serving in the field during the holidays was LTJG Jessica Senzer. LTJG Senzer is assigned to the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center Antarctic Ecosystem Research Group and is currently aboard the NSF icebreaker Lawrence Gould en route to one of the AERG field camps at Cape Shirreff on Livingston Island. Actually, by now, she's probably landed at the camp.

Of course, with the end of the holiday season starts a New Year, but not just any ol' new year, it's 2017…the year the NOAA Corps turns 100! I think we've mentioned this a few times in previous editions of the Cyberflash (please read some healthy sarcasm in to that last sentence.) And with 2017 upon us, there are only 133 days until the Gala celebration. The Centennial planning committee is poised to reveal some of the ways we will be celebrating our century of science and service and will be disseminating materials for specific events. I've heard rumors of organized participation in local community service events on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. More details on this initiative to follow soon.

Career Sea Pay Scuttlebutt

In the last Cyberflash, we announced the implementation of the new Career Sea Pay (CSP) tables. There were adjustments to CSP according to rank and years of sea time – both increases and decreases. One of the most notable changes was the reduction of CSP for new ensigns with less than 2 years of sea time. Their pay was reduced from $70 to $5 per month. This prompted some justifiable shock and anger from these shipmates. The feeling of being blindsided was received loud and clear, as well as the feeling that CPC had snuck this in at the end of the year in hopes that it would go unnoticed. There were concerns about what kind of message this change in CSP sends to members of our service. The comments were greatly appreciated as it gives me an opportunity to dispel rumors as well as reinforce a message reflected in the new tables.

First, for those negatively impacted, feeling blindsided by the reduction in your pay is a valid emotion. Those few officers who are still harboring smoldering embers of bitterness can burn me in effigy…and then get on with your life. While the feeling of being blindsided is valid, the accusation of CPC being sneaky is not valid. This implies that CPC has enough time, creativity, intent, and staff resources to plan and execute a slight of hand. If you really believe there was some sort of conspiracy to communicate this change at the end of the year to try and get away with something, achieve a ruse, or get away with some plot you should probably don your tinfoil hat because the Government is about to read your thoughts at this very moment. It also implies that the new sea tables are unfair and reduced the compensation for all NOAA Corps officers. This is simply not even close to true when evaluating the changes. The unfortunate timing was due simply to this change being continually overcome by higher priority events. Sort of like that overdue thing called the "Officer Career Management Plan" which sets promotion zones and opportunities of selection.

As far as the message that the new tables send, from my chair in the NOAA Corps wheelhouse, it sends a very clear and important message – the pay is called CAREER Sea Pay for reason. Officers are compensated for their accumulated sea experience. In the new tables, CSP for O-1Es was increased $5/month to $75/month because they are assumed to have accumulated a reasonable amount of valuable enlisted sea time and this experience makes their expertise worthy of a pay. To be blunt, CSP isn't a participation trophy. That may be hard for some people to swallow, especially those who have excelled in developing maritime professionalism during their first sea tour. Bear this in mind - the previous CSP tables were the first time that anyone with less than 2 years of sea time received ANYTHING in the way of a pay for their sea experience. And consider this – the USC&GS officers who put themselves in harm's way and risked attack from Japanese forces in the Pacific received ZERO dollars per month in sea pay. I think $5/mo is an appropriate participation trophy. It says "Thanks for your time and service at sea as you learn your profession. Hang in there, and you'll receive more."

So, I think the message is clear - like the USCG - we value sea time and maritime professionalism. Gain it through sailing and you'll be paid accordingly.

Semper serviens,

CAPT Amilynn E. Adams, NOAA
Director, CPC

On the Horizon

08 Jan 2017 BOTC 129 Begins
11 Jan 2017 BOTC 129 Starts
12 Jan 2017 NOAA Ship Rainier Change of Command
23-27 Jan 2017 OMAO Mid-Grade Week Two
30 Jan - 3 Feb 2017 CO/XO Immersion
05-25 Mar 2017 REFTRA
06 Apr 2017 Billet Night (Tentative)
01-05 May 2017 CO/XO Immersion

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

ENS Lander Ver Hoef 28 Feb 2017
LT Amber Payne 01 Mar 2017
LT Loren Evory 01 Apr 2017
ENS Christopher Pickens 01 Apr 2017

History: Field Medicine

The following are accounts of medical attention given to a member of topographic party in the Philippines and to an officer conducting triangulation work in Southeast Alaska. Life in the field was tougher before the era of helicopters and radio communications.

While conducting topography on Babuyan Island in the Philippine Islands in 1926, Lieutenant Hubert Paton was left ashore with a small shore party while the ship proceeded to Manila to obtain coal. During this period, one of his crew fell down a 20-foot cliff and broke his arm. Lieutenant Paton laid him on his back and kneeled his 200 pounds on the man's chest, took the crewmember's elbow in the crook of his arm and pulled until he heard something crack. Eventually, when an X-ray was taken, the image revealed a perfect "set".

This second incident occurred on the west coast of Yakobi Island in1926. Ensign Ira Sanders was assigned to a hydrographic survey crew and was making a landing on an offshore rock when the following incident occurred"

"Ensign Sanders, while intrepidly negotiating a tremendous leap from the insecure footing of a skiff bobbing up and down on the swells, to the austere and frowning rocks which form the shore in this part of the world, inadvertently missed his footing and was able to maintain his equilibrium only by clinging with one hand to a notch in the rock. The violence of his fall caused the dislocation of his left shoulder. Luckily the launch engineer from long experience with those temperamental and intricate machines, gas engines, had acquired such skill at matching parts, that he was able to pop the joint back in place without much trouble, and our jolly surveyors proceeded with the days work not being deterred by danger, inclement weather, or personal discomfort…."

Uniform of the Day: Update

RADM Score has signed an updated Uniform of the Day memo. Key changes include updated verbiage officially authorizing the Flight Suit as an alternative uniform for "officers attached to Aircraft Operations Center, or otherwise in active flight status" (not just those in Tampa, FL), and authorization for the senior officer present to "designate the method of wear of ODU sleeves (down or rolled) to maintain uniformity within units." Please direct any questions regarding this memo, or any other uniform item, to the Uniform and Awards Board (

ACO Award Nomination

The NOAA Association of Commissioned Officers (ACO) administers the annual Junior Officer of the Year, Science, and Engineering awards. The ACO recognizes the wide range of accomplishments and contributions of NOAA's uniformed personnel, and encourages all commands consider nominating officers for these honors. Nominations for the 2016 awards are due by 01 March 2017.

Nomination Procedure: A nomination for a NOAA ACO award shall consist of at least two pages. The first page shall be a cover memo addressed to the National ACO, stating the name, grade, billet title, and job description of the nominated officer. The following page(s) shall be the personal comments of the nominator, which reflect the basis for the nomination. Nominations should include a detailed description of the officer's duties and accomplishments, and the positive impact of those achievements on the Agency and the Service. All commands and field offices are encouraged to submit officer nominations for these awards. Candidates for Junior Officer of the Year must be nominated by a supervisor in their chain of command, while the Science and Engineering award nominations may be made by the supervisor or any commissioned officer.

Submit nominations via e-mail to, by COB 01 March 2017. In the nomination email please have the supporting files attached as .PDF or readable by Microsoft Word.

The subject line of the nomination email should be "Junior Officer of the Year Nomination", "Science Award", or "Engineering Award" as appropriate. This will assist the selection committee with accurate tracking and sorting of the nominations. Junior officers with civilian supervisors are encouraged to forward them this information. For more information on the awards, please refer to the NOAA Corps Directives on Awards (Chapter 12 part 7).

Spinning the Yarns of Reflection

CPC received a recollection of one officer's career in response to the question "What does the NOAA Corps 100th Anniversary mean to you?" This officer's story is a moving reflection and recollection of service in the NOAA Corps from the late 1960s through the 80s. You can read it here.

Retirement Biography

Officers approaching retirement are highly encouraged to update their personal biography. While this may seem counter-intuitive, given a recent spate of officers who recently crossed the bar it is a very useful document to be used or incorporated in your eventual eulogy. One of the lesser known services provided by CPC to retired officers, or more accurately their families, is a summary record of the officer's service to be used in the development of a eulogy. From time to time CPC receives notification of officers who have passed away and depending on the wishes of the family, having a ready biography on file is a very helpful item to be used in conveying somber news. An example of a retirement biography is provided here.

The Blended Retirement System is Coming!

In addition to being the 100th anniversary of the NOAA Corps, 2017 marks the last year that new service members will be able to elect to participate in the current uniformed service retirement system or make an irrevocable decision to enroll in the Blended Retirement System. The American Legion Magazine ran a short article on the "big decision" for junior members of the service here.

Update Your Billet Description!

There are many forms to be reviewed and updated during the End of Year package process but I would like to take the time to emphasize how important it is to review and update the billet description (From 56-28A) in the billet you are currently in. The new billet description form (2009 version) was designed to accomplish many objectives that were not covered in the previous version. Some of the objectives of the billet description are:

  • Help officers looking for their next assignment to identify which billets meet their personal objectives (i.e. location) as well as professional objectives (line office, missions, etc.)
  • Allow officers to manage their career by looking for billets with leadership, operational, program, or activity development opportunities that they would like to address in order to advance their career.
  • Describe to potential billet applicants exactly what duties and responsibilities the officer could expect while serving in the billet.
  • Allow Officer Assignment Board (OAB) members to make better placements for both the officer and the NOAA Corps based on skills/certifications required in a billet.
  • Enables the billet supervisor and reporting officer to better evaluate the assigned officer in their Office Evaluation Report (OER) by referring to the critical success criteria (section 13).
  • Clearly defines the rating chain for the billet.

Please go to the CPC website and look here to pull up the most recent version of your billet description. If any of the information has changed you can contact the Assignment Coordinator, CDR Shoup, to get the electronic version (or open up Form 56-28A on the CPC website and copy and paste from your billet description's pdf), make the changes, and send through the billet routing chain (section 14) using digital signatures to make the process efficient.

To reduce the frequency of billet description updates in the future due to rating chain changes (Section 3), please use the Position title (3.A.2., 3.B.2., 3.C.2.) in the Name section (3.A.1., 3.B.1., 3.C.1.) whenever the Position has a functional email account. Then use the functional email address in Sections 3.A.4., 3.B.4., and 3.C.4.

There are also over 70 billets that have not been updated to the new form as well as a few that have no billet description at all. If that is the situation for your billet please work with CDR Shoup to get your billet description onto the new form.

Thank you in advance for your support and to make career management of the NOAA Corps better and more efficient.