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About OMAO

NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations operates a wide variety of specialized aircraft and ships to complete NOAA's environmental and scientific missions. OMAO is also responsible for the administration and implementation of the NOAA Diving Program, Small Boat Program and Aviation Safety Program, to ensure safe and efficient operations in NOAA-sponsored underwater activities and aviation and small boat operations.

NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), located at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, is home to NOAA's fleet of aircraft. These fixed-wing aircraft operate in some of the world's most remote and demanding flight regimes--over open ocean, mountains, coastal wetlands, Arctic pack ice, and in and around hurricanes and other severe weather--with an exemplary safety record. There are no comparable aircraft in the commercial fleet to support NOAA's atmospheric and hurricane surveillance/research programs. AOC provides unique specialized platforms to NOAA's scientists. The hard-working versatile aircraft collect the environmental and geographic data essential to NOAA hurricane and other weather and atmospheric research; provide aerial support for coastal and aeronautical charting and remote sensing projects; conduct aerial surveys for hydrologic research to help predict flooding potential from snow melt, and provide support to NOAA's fishery research and marine mammal assessment programs.

NOAA's ship fleet provides hydrographic survey, oceanographic and atmospheric research, and fisheries research vessels to support NOAA's strategic plan elements and mission. The vessels are located in various locations around the United States. The ships are managed by the Marine Operations Center, which has offices in Norfolk, Virginia and Newport, Oregon. Logistic support for these vessels is provided by the Marine Operations Center offices or, for vessels in Woods Hole, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; Pascagoula, Mississippi; San Diego, California; Kodiak and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Honolulu, Hawaii; by Port Captains located in those ports.

NOAA's aircraft and ship fleet is operated and managed by a combination of NOAA Corps Officers, wage marine and civilian employees.  NOAA Corps pilots are the only pilots in the world who are trained and qualified to fly into hurricanes at dangerously low altitudes (below 10,000 feet). Officers and OMAO civilians also frequently serve as chief scientists on program missions. The wage marine and civilian personnel include licensed engineers, mechanics,  navigators, technicians, and members of the engine, steward, and deck departments. Administrative duties and navigation of the vessels are performed by the commissioned officers. The aircraft and ship's officers and crew provide mission support and assistance to embarked scientists from various NOAA laboratories as well as the academic community.

To complement NOAA's research fleet, OMAO is fulfilling NOAA's ship and aircraft support needs with contracts for ship and aircraft time with other sources, such as the private sector and the university fleet.

More information about OMAO's mission and responsibilities can be found in NOAA's Organization Orders (Section 4.05).


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