Message from the Director

Fellow NOAA Corps officers,

One of the perks of being the CPC Director is the opportunity to open the bi-weekly Cyberflash with a Director's message. There are many NOAA Corps officers who have valuable leadership advice to share without a similar platform. Hence I will be affording this opportunity to my peers from time to time by inviting them to send a "guest" Director's message.

Captain Mark Wetzler joined the NOAA Corps via an interservice transfer from the Missouri Army National Guard in July of 1993. He had completed a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics and was working on a master's degree in Mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University at the time of his transfer. His love of both science and service is what drove him to become a NOAA Corps officer. Over his career he has served aboard the NOAA Ships Malcolm Baldrige, Rainier, Fairweather, McArthur II, Ronald H. Brown and most recently as the Commanding Officer of Okeanos Explorer and Acting CO aboard Reuben Lasker. His shore assignments reflect his technical nature and include work as a mathematical modeler, hydrographic system support and development, chief of an IT group within the Marine Chart Division, Deputy Division Leader for the Ocean Environment Research Division at Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and currently is the Chief of Program Planning and Services Division for Marine Operations.

Captain Wetzler's message:

The importance of a Command Philosophy

Officers who have worked with me over the years know my respect of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I've used the book to mentor the wardrooms and chiefs of several vessels that I've sailed on over the years. Mr. Covey articulates many great lessons on leadership which have proven to be very effective in a shipboard environment. One of Covey's key lessons is "Begin with an end in mind." Having a command philosophy helps you to communicate what end you have in mind.

As Captain I routinely used my command philosophy to make decisions and justify decisions to the customers and crew. In order for this to work well your philosophy has to be repeatedly, continually, and concisely communicated to the wardroom, to the crew, and to the customers. It allows people around you to understand your priorities and how you make decisions. Additionally, your actions and decisions must match your philosophy. Credibility is key. Being philosophically consistent allows those around you to know what to expect from you and what is expected from them.

Below is an excerpt from my night orders from Okeanos Explorer on May 30, 2016.

Captain's Command Philosophy

My command philosophy has three factors in consideration: People, Platform, and Mission. The question is of balance, like a three legged stool. If you lean too far in any one direction, the stool becomes unstable. Without good people the mission cannot be done and the platform is pointless. Without the mission, the platform and people are not needed. If you lean too far toward the mission, the platform and people can be worn. It comes down to balance.

In terms of people, they need to be kept safe, developed, be respected, and work in a pleasant environment. Every individual has value. As we work out here for years on end, we have to trust each other and count on each other. The only way to do that is to be worthy of trust, to help, to share, and be present in the moment. Our happiness and safety depends on those around us. People work better and are healthier when they are happy and feel secure. In the end we should be a tribe/team/community with a purpose (Ikigai/Mission). Be there for one another and encourage good work and positivity understand one another when things are difficult and stressful.

People, Platform, and Mission do not completely encapsulate all considerations. They are underpinned by Safety and Environmental compliance. If we care for people, we must keep them safe. As environmental stewards, we must keep the environment healthy. For me, keeping people healthy is not just doing safe recovery and deployments; it is making sure that people live long and healthy lives. That is why I push for people to have real food options available (true ice cream, true maple syrup), that people are reminded to wear personal protective equipment, and that the toxins that we are exposed to are as limited as they can be (changing from aluminum cookware to stainless steel).

It is not enough to be given a position to lead, one has to be worthy of leading. That means preparing and doing the hard work to take care of the people, the platform, and the mission while keeping people safe and the environment healthy. This is what our team is entrusted to do. Contribute and be worthy.

Thank you Captain Wetzler for sharing your command philosophy with the NOAA Corps!


CAPT Devin Brakob, NOAA
Director, Commissioned Personnel Center

On the Horizon

11 Dec 2018 Officer Assignment Board
15 Jan 2019 Operations Officer Working Group

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

LT Joseph Phillips 18 Jan 2019
LTJG Sarah Chappel 31 Jan 2019
CDR George Miller 01 Feb 2019
CAPT Scott Sirois 01 Feb 2019
LT Sara Sheehan 01 Feb 2019
LT Jason Baillio 01 Mar 2019
LT Andrew Clos 19 Mar 2019
LT Felicia Drummond 29 Mar 2019

P-3 Pilot Arriving!

LCDR Dean Legidakes was commissioned into the NOAA Corps at the Aircraft Operations Center in Lakeland, Florida on October 29, 2018. LCDR Legidakes joins our ranks as our newest P-3 pilot. Welcome aboard Lieutenant Commander Legidakes!

End of Year Package 2018

Today, November 30, 2018, CPC has kicked off this year's End of Year Package (EOYP)! This requirement is intended to assist CPC and officers in the maintenance of Officer Personnel Folders (OPF) and other personnel concerns, as we strive to continually enhance our customer service. EOYP link will be found within your OPF notification section and available to officers through February 13, 2019. Contact LCDR Laura Gibson with any questions or concerns throughout the process.

Unusually Arduous Sea Duty CY19

The Director has designated the following NOAA ships as unusually arduous for calendar year 2019:

  • Fairweather
  • Ferdinand R. Hassler
  • Hi'alakai
  • Okeanos Explorer
  • Oscar Dyson
  • Rainer
  • Reuben Lasker

If you have dependents and are currently assigned to one of the four ships that has been added to the list, you are entitled to relocate your dependents and household goods at Government expense in conjunction with the new designation. You may also be eligible to start receiving the BAH for the location of your dependents if they are currently located in an undesignated location.

If you are assigned to a ship that has been removed from the list and have dependents residing in a designated location, your entitlements will remain the same for the duration of your assignment. Please direct any questions to Katherine Raymond at Katherine.raymond@noaa.gov.

BRS - The Final Stretch

As the end of the year approaches, so does the deadline to opt into the Blended Retirement System...Thirty-One (31) Days and counting down. Officers who qualify to switch to the BRS from the legacy retirement system have until December 31, 2018 to make their election. If you are still on the fence and need more information, please visit https://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/ to get the facts and make an informed decision before it is too late. Additionally, if you would like more information please visit the link below for the Department of Defense Office of Financial Readiness' YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg0MPnnOV4wVimcGH1i-T8Q/featured.

If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Jason Merriweather at jason.merriweather@noaa.gov.

Additional resources can be found at:

Call for BOTC 134 Interviewers

In an effort to help streamline and standardize the BOTC interview evaluation process, the Officer Recruiting Branch is requesting two officers (1 primary/1 alternate), preferably at the O-3/O-4 rank, in each of the following regions to conduct interviews for BOTC 134 candidates from January 21 - February 15, 2018 (schedule is flexible):

  • Northeast Region (RI/MA)
  • Southeast Region (Central FL)
  • Southern Region (Pascagoula, MS)
  • Central Region (Boulder, CO)
  • Southwest Region (San Diego, CA)
  • Northwest Region (Seattle, WA/Newport, OR)
  • Alaska Region (Anchorage, AK)
  • Hawaii Region (Honolulu, HI)

Interviewers can expect to interview about 5 applicants. The regional interview process has received positive reviews from senior leadership, and having a dedicated group of interviewers will normalize scores and make them more valuable to the BOTC Selection Board.

If you are interested or would like more information, please contact LT Rico Rodriguez at noaacorps.recruiting@noaa.gov by December 14, 2018.

Uniform and Awards Board

The term for the current Uniform and Awards Board (UAB) is coming to an end and CPC is seeking new membership. The current UAB structure enables virtual Board participation so membership is open to all officers in the rank of O-2 and above. The NOAA Corps UAB provides the Director, NOAA Corps with recommendations for awards, decorations, and uniforms. The UAB is comprised of no less than three active duty officers appointed by the Director; membership typically consists of eight or nine officers. A senior member of the UAB is appointed as the Chair and is responsible for organizing the meetings as well as managing minutes and debriefing the Director. The UAB convenes once a month and membership duration is approximately 18 months. UAB duties are outlined in NOAA Corps Directive, Chapter 10, Section 10010.

If you are interested in serving on this critical Board, please contact LCDR Laura Gibson at laura.gibson@noaa.gov. The newly appointed UAB will convene in January for an overlap meeting with the outgoing team.

SOES Certification

CPC is moving with the times and paper life insurance records are becoming a thing of the past. Thank you to all officers who have taken action to certify their life insurance benefits online! If you have not done so, take 5 minutes to ensure your benefits are in order by clicking here.

Detailed instructions were provided in an October 15th Message from the Director, CPC. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact LCDR Laura Gibson at laura.gibson@noaa.gov.

Operations Officer Recommendation Working Group

An Operations Officer Recommendation Working Group is scheduled on January 15, 2019 to make recommendations for Operations Officer assignments. Any officer within two years of rotation could be considered for these ship assignments. Please ensure your assignment preferences are updated to reflect your latest interest, and reach out to ships and Marine Center COs to discuss possible OPS assignments. For any questions, please contact CDR Stephen Kuzirian at assignmentbranch.cpc@noaa.gov or by phone at 301-713-7694.

Officer Assignment Board

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. Any officer scheduled to rotate to shore duty within the next 18 months should contact incumbents and supervisors in their billets of interest, and also contact the appropriate Line Office Liaison Officer with your interests. 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 assignmentbranch.cpc@noaa.gov.

From the Assignments Desk: Billet #7213 Western Gulf Region Navigation Manager, Texas

The Office of Coast Survey (OCS) is looking for a highly professional, out-going, customer service oriented officer to support the Navigation Services Division's (NSD) Customer Affairs Branch (CAB) as the Western Gulf Region Navigation Manager. The billet is located in Galveston, TX and is focused on supporting the Texas maritime community.

This billet directly supports NOAA's strategic goal of Promoting Safe Navigation by interacting and working closely with the entire maritime community. This includes:

  • Federal entities such as US Coast Guard, US Navy, US Army Corps of Engineers, and all other parts of NOAA
  • State and local authorities such as Texas State Department of Natural Resources, Harbormasters, Port Administrators, Harbor Safety Committees, and Pilot Associations
  • Public groups and users such as Regional Citizen's Advisory Councils, Fishing Associations, Maritime Commissions, Recreational Boater Associations, and the general public

The officer will focus on resolving regional charting and navigation questions by educating constituents on charting technologies and their uses, and soliciting feedback on NOAA's navigation products and services from the Texas maritime community. The officer will actively participate in regional maritime planning meetings and, during response efforts, serve in the USCG Incident Coordination Center (ICC) as a member of the Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit (MTSRU) coordinating and supporting OCS survey response efforts.

This assignments provides an officer with the opportunity to work with and to better understand numerous OCS and NOS program areas, and see how products, services, and information can best be integrated for delivery on a regional basis. It also provides the incumbent with a broader picture of NOAA's and OCS's charting efforts and the intrinsically linked relationships between OCS and other government and non-government agencies and organizations.

While this billet is rated for a lieutenant commander, interested high caliber lieutenants will be considered. This billet is currently vacant and the program would like to fill it at the earliest opportunity. Interested officers should update their billet preferences and contact the Assignment Coordinator and/or NSD Chief CAPT James Crocker at james.m.crocker@noaa.gov, to seek additional details about this assignment.