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.
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.
CAPT Amilynn E. Adams, NOAA
|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|
|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|