Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

About OMAO

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) manages and operates NOAA's fleet of 15 research and survey ships and nine specialized environmental data-collecting aircraft. Comprised of civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, OMAO also manages the NOAA Diving Program, NOAA Small Boat Program, and NOAA Uncrewed Systems Operations Center. NOAA and OMAO are part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The NOAA Ship and Aircraft Fleet

The research and survey ships operated, managed, and maintained by OMAO comprise the largest fleet of federal research ships in the nation. Ranging from large oceanographic research vessels capable of exploring the world’s deepest ocean, to smaller ships responsible for charting the shallow bays and inlets of the United States, the fleet supports a wide range of marine activities including fisheries surveys, nautical charting, and ocean and climate studies.

NOAA aircraft operate throughout the world providing a wide range of capabilities including hurricane reconnaissance and research, marine mammal and fisheries assessment, and coastal mapping. NOAA aircraft carry scientists and specialized instrument packages to conduct research for NOAA’s missions.

OMAO is Responsive to Unpredictable Events

In addition to research and monitoring activities critical to NOAA’s mission, OMAO-operated ships and aircraft provide immediate response capabilities for unpredictable events. Following hurricanes, NOAA ships conduct emergency surveys for navigation hazards that help ports reopen quickly. Aerial images of disaster-torn areas—taken by NOAA aircraft—enabled residents and emergency workers to verify the condition of houses, bridges, and roads.

OMAO's Strategic Plan

The OMAO Strategic Plan 2021-2025 provides details on our plan to fulfill our mission and vision.

Statutory Authority

More information about OMAO's mission and responsibilities can be found in the U.S. Department of Commerce's Organization Orders (DOO 25-5, Section 11).