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NOAA ships and aircraft play a critical role in the collection of oceanographic, atmospheric, hydrographic, and fisheries data. The NOAA fleet is managed and operated by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), an office composed of civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Corps. OMAO also manages the NOAA Diving Program and NOAA Small Boat Program.

OMAO’s research and survey ships compose the largest fleet of federal research ships in the nation. The fleet ranges 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 research, nautical charting, and ocean and climate studies.

OMAO’s aircraft operate throughout the world providing a wide range of capabilities including hurricane reconnaisance 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.

In addition to research and monitoring activities critical to NOAA’s mission, OMAO ships and aircraft provide immediate response capabilities for unpredictable events. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita NOAA ships conducted emergency surveys for navigation hazards that helped Gulf 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.

Our vision: To be the Nation's trusted leader for innovative, adaptive, and reliable oceanic and atmospheric observation platforms.

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