Message from the Director

Fellow NOAA Corps officers,

I have been part of the Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System (BRS) Working Group for the past six months. The main focus of that group has shifted recently to ensuring all service members eligible to opt-in have taken the time to evaluate this important financial decision. The last day to opt-in is December 31, 2018. That is in 60 days!

The BRS is the largest reform to the Uniformed Services retirement system in decades. Thoroughly understanding personal financial choices is critical to realizing the benefits of your retirement system options. Given the importance of this decision, eligible NOAA Corps officers should involve their families and potential beneficiaries in the process. Officers are encouraged to seek additional financial literacy information and resources to aid in making this decision. The DOD Military Pay website has a great section on BRS with updated calendars, a training video series, and Service Member's Guide. Officers still considering BRS opt-in can also take the training course again via the Commerce Learning Center by searching for "Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System (Opt-in Course)".

The importance, significance, and impact of this opportunity on your future financial well-being cannot be understated.

CAPT Devin Brakob, NOAA
Director, Commissioned Personnel Center

On the Horizon

20 Nov 2018 BOTC 132 Graduation
11 Dec 2018 Officer Assignment Board

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

LT Kyle Salling 11 Nov 2018
LT Adam Ruckman 15 Nov 2018
LCDR Steven Loy 15 Nov 2018
LT Carmen DeFazio 16 Nov 2018
LCDR Tanner Sims 19 Nov 2018
LT Felicia Drummond 21 Dec 2018
LTJG Sarah Chappel 31 Jan 2019
CDR George Miller 01 Feb 2019
CAPT Scott Sirois 01 Feb 2019

History: The Old Boy Needed More Bathing

The cabin occupied by the Captain was aft. It had a good sized bunk, a small desk, a table and bathroom. Six officers, including a doctor, were carried. They occupied one large room forward of the cabin, known as the wardroom. The mess table was in the middle of this room. There were three bunks on each side of the wardroom, with four drawers beneath each bunk. The bunks were about three feet wide and a tendency to roll meant a spill on the deck. At night, curtains pulled out on rods framed little compartments. There was one bathroom in a low compartment, just forward of the wardroom, port side. On the working grounds each officer was allowed one pitcher of water per day for washing. Salt water was used for bathing, but each officer was allowed one 12-quart bucket of water per week for a wash down. This limitation did not apply to the Captain. It was a privilege, and not as the young officers remarked, "The Old Boy needed more bathing..." Light was furnished by kerosene lamps which were out at 10 p.m., except small standing lights.

Such was life in the wardroom of the Coast and Geodetic Survey Steamer GEDNEY in the late Nineteenth Century. This excerpt was taken from the autobiography of Captain Thomas Maher, "Around the World in Forty Years."

BOTC 132

Members of BOTC 132 continue to work towards their graduation date of November 20, 2018. Recent training evolutions have included underway time on several local training platforms, advanced firefighting, and their leadership philosophy panels. During the remaining weeks of training they will have several more underway opportunities and receive instruction in electronic navigation and ARPA. If local officers are interested in attending the graduation ceremonies on November 20, 2018, please contact CDR Keith Golden at 860-701-6630 or for details.


Photo credit: LT Larry Thomas

Photo credit: LT Larry Thomas

REFTRA 85 concludes today, after three weeks of meet and greets, instruction, and hands-on practice in preparation for their upcoming sea tours. The highlights included meeting BOTC 132 and witnessing firsthand the caliber of the newest additions to our fleet. The training received for Advanced Firefighting, Basic Shipboard Damage Control, and Bridge Resource Management were outstanding, but the activity that held the most impact for all officers was Open Water Survival. Donning immersion suits, abandoning ship, forming into groups, and boarding a life raft in Long Island Sound will likely never be forgotten. Who would have thought that so many tough, experienced officers could turn green so quickly? REFTRA 85 has been invaluable to our officers with all the new and relearned experiences. Thank you to everyone who called in or traveled to CT/RI to make the training and social events a success!

TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) to the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) Dental Letter Explanation

Many NOAA Corps officers received a letter about their TRDP ending December 31, 2018 and the need to enroll in the FEDVIP dental program. As an active duty NOAA Corps officer, the upcoming TRDP transition to the FEDVIP does not impact your current dental or vision benefits. Your dental and vision coverage will still be provided by TRICARE, and you will continue to receive your dental and vision care from your military hospital or clinic. Your family members are not eligible for FEDVIP dental coverage and are still eligible to enroll in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP).

For the first time ever, FEDVIP vision coverage is available to active duty uniformed service family members. Your family members must be enrolled in a TRICARE health plan to be eligible for FEDVIP vision coverage. Coverage is effective January 1, 2019, if they enroll during the Federal Benefits Open Season. The 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season begins on November 12, 2018 and runs through December 10, 2018. This is the first opportunity for you to enroll your family members in FEDVIP.

With four vision carriers to choose from, and both high and standard vision plan options, FEDVIP offers great flexibility when selecting the right coverage for your family. Although your family members may have some vision coverage through your TRICARE health plan, FEDVIP vision plans offer additional, more comprehensive coverage than what your health plan offers, should they need it.

Retired NOAA Corps officers will not be automatically enrolled in FEDVIP when TRDP ends on December 31, 2018 and need to enroll during the 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season.

More information on these FEDVIP program, including eligibility and plan descriptions, are available at You can contact LCDR Sharon Downey, USPHS, at 301-713-7718 or, if you have additional questions.

Take Command: First Annual TRICARE Open Season Begins November 12, 2018

Open season is an annual period when you can enroll in or change your health care coverage plan for the following year. During TRICARE Open Season, you may enroll in or change your TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select health plan. Any changes you make will be effective January 1, 2019. If you remain eligible and make no changes during the TRICARE Open Season, then you'll stay in the same plan for 2019. You may also change your type of enrollment during open season, for example switching from individual to family coverage.

Outside of the TRICARE Open Season period, you may still enroll in or change between TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select plans within 90 days after you or a family member experience a Qualifying Life Event (QLE). A QLE is a certain change in your life, which may mean different TRICARE options are available to you.

More information is available at

Officer Assignment Board - O-4/O-5 Assignments

An Officer Assignment Board (OAB) for O-4/O-5 assignments will be held on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. The OAB will be prepared to look at potential O-4/O-5 officers and assignments up to 18 months from now. Please ensure your assignment preferences are up to date, and contact the assignment coordinator, CDR Stephen Kuzirian, with any questions at 301-713-7694 or

From the Assignments Desk: Billet #0508, Staff Officer, CPC

Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes? Are you interested in learning the "how" and "why" regarding policy and contributing to the execution and improvement of personnel management issues? CPC is looking for an officer with initiative to work in Silver Spring, MD and support the entire fleet as Staff Officer at CPC within the Officer Personnel Management Division. The job involves Officer Personnel Boards, promotions, discipline, awards and many other Human Resource functions. Interested officers rotating between August and November 2019 should ensure your assignment preferences are up to date, and contact LCDR Laura Gibson with any questions at or 301-713-7712 and CDR Stephen Kuzirian at or 301-713-7694.