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January 5, 2010

Images from the Field

NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on her way to the shipyard.
Photo: ENS Faith Opatrny/ NOAA

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Director's Message

First, I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe 2010. Winter may still be in full swing, but so is OMAO. A quick look at the organizational map shows activity across the nation and around the world. Ships are being readied for upcoming missions. Others are underway, doing work vital to NOAA, the nation and the planet. Similarly, NOAA aircraft are at the ready or receiving the maintenance necessary to ensure their continued safe, efficient and effective operation. Meanwhile, the people of OMAO –you– continue to provide outstanding support to the fleet and the agency. For all those reasons, I have every confidence that 2010 will be a great year.


RADM Bailey

RADM Jonathan W. Bailey



NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown Bound for South America
On Jan. 2, NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown left her homeport of Charleston S.C. for South America. During a month-long cruise, the ship will collect oceanographic and meteorological data off of Peru and northern Chile that will help improve global and regional climate models. The ship will also deploy and service several buoys. The cruise, part of the STRATUS project, is being conducted in partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Peruvian Navy Hydrographic Office, Chilean Navy Hydrographic Service, and Colorado State University.


Working for You

OMAO manages NOAA Corps officers through the Commissioned Personnel Center, specifically the Career Management and Personnel Management Divisions (PMD). These two separate yet parallel divisions are key players in an officer's career development. Headed by Greg Raymond, the Personnel Management Division handles promotions, awards, officer evaluation reports, uniforms, security clearances, permanent change of station (PCS), separations, resignations, retirements, officer personnel boards, the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee, OPF Online, records management, and any disciplinary actions. The division also includes human resource specialists Sherrita Irby and Tracey Raymond, human resource assistants Ebony Wilson and Gladys Faxio, medical administration branch chief LCDR Elizabeth Hobson-Powell, USPHS, and staff officer ENS Brian Prescott. PMD is currently working to streamline PCS and temporary duty order management to increase customer service. PMD plans to release a new official personnel file directive later this month that will more clearly define required and accepted documents. Contact Greg Raymond ( for questions regarding personnel management. Read the next issue to learn about the Career Management Division.

In the Spotlight

These days we often take electronics for granted. But maintaining advanced electronics at sea is quite a challenge. The Electronics Engineering Branch (EEB) manages and maintains the state-of-the-art electronic equipment NOAA ships use to complete missions. Larry Loewen is one of the ship liaisons stationed at the Marine Operations Center-Pacific. In August 2009 he was named the NOAA Employee of the Month for his efforts with the Pacific fleet. He recently spoke with LTJG Gallant to offer insight into EEB’s mission.

LG: What does the Electronics Engineering Branch (EEB) do?

LL: We support the ships of the NOAA fleet and their ship and mission electronic requirements. This incorporates maintaining the equipment already installed in the ships, electronics, computers, and data acquisition. And then we identify and procure future requirements. So it's an ongoing process.

LG: What is your official title?

LL: I'm a ship liaison. I interface in between the ships and scientists and identify future requirements, regulatory requirements for the electronic items for the installation. Where the ship technicians repair and maintain the equipment, the liaisons look to identifying the longer term requirements and work toward their purchase and installation.

LG: Can you tell me about how many people work in EEB?

LL: Yes, on both coasts, the East and West Coast, there's about 52 personnel. On the West Coast they are pretty much centralized in Seattle. The East Coast personnel are centered in Norfolk with some liaisons located in the port offices.

LG: Are there different specializations within EEB?

LL: We have the ship liaisons, rotating technicians and supervisory personnel. By and far the largest group are the rotating technicians that are on the ships. They're the major portion and the most critical portion of all the jobs. And we have the supervisors back in the offices. Then we have a few specialists usually in the Information Technology (IT) field to assist the ships. That's probably the biggest area now, the IT area.

LG: What do the rotating technicians do when they are not aboard a ship?

LL: They are set up so there are two teams per ship. A team can be one or more persons, usually it's one technician and they rotate approximately every 45-60 days. One person will fly out to join the ship in its next port of call. They'll interface together so they can exchange information and catch up on what needs to be done, assist each other during that time and then the off going technician will fly back. During his time back inshore he collects technical training, takes vacation time, and also supports all of the ships both in their man power requirements and technical assistance. What this does is ensure that there is a person back on shore that is intimately familiar with each particular ship.

LG: Have you ever gone to sea?

LL: Yes, I have. I sailed for about six months out of the year for 25 years as rotating technician.

LG: What ships did you work on?

LL: Well, most of them are since decommissioned now. The NOAA Ships Oceanographer, Surveyor, Davidson, McArthur, David Starr Jordan, Townsend Cromwell, and Miller Freeman for a short time. So I've sailed on quite a few ships, but not very many of the newer ones.

LG: Does being a liaison involve traveling to the ships at their various ports of call?

LL: Yes, it does. I travel for probably about a month during the year. The longest being about a week and half at a time. We try to visit the ships while they are out, to get some idea and talk to their commands and the technicians on there to get a feel for what needs to be done on the ships.

LG: With our new ships there's a wide disparity in electronic requirements. What's the difference between working on, for example Okeanos Explorer vs. Oregon II?

LL: A lot of it is in the requirement for the technician [to have] a higher degree of organizational and technical expertise. A lot of what they do is the same on each of the ships. The network administration, computer repair, radars and radios and items like that. Naturally there's a matter of quantity on each of the ships. But the Okeanos and the hydrographic survey ships have a vast amount of equipment and it's a lot more complex than what is on some of the smaller ships.

LG: Is there a project that stood out to you as the most interesting?

LL: Yes, there was. I was sailing on the Ron Brown for probably its first four or five years. And we had one cruise on there with a lot of scientists with computers and various projects, and some of them didn't speak very good English and their computers were Windows computers but were in different languages. It made it very interesting. One of the last legs on the cruise there was one Russian on there that didn't speak any English. So trying to figure out what problems there were and how to get them fixed was interesting.

LG: So there was a language barrier and a computer language barrier?

LL: Yes. The Windows programs looked somewhat the same and the icons where the same but all the language would be in either French or Russian. So you had to think what I'm looking for is in this location and not look at the words. But there've been a lot of interesting cruises that I've been on.


Bravo Zulu!

Congratulations to Stephen A. Parra, executive program director for OAK Management Inc., who has been named the NOAA Team Member of the Month. Applying his exceptional knowledge of current marine practices, Steve recently conducted a thorough review of current fleet operations and developed a formal project management plan for the Safety and Environmental Compliance Division. He also developed recommendations for reducing the risk of an accidental discharge of oily bilge waste while minimizing cost and ship down time.

Coming and Going

Change of Command: CAPT Wade J. Blake assumed command of NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown on Dec. 30, relieving CAPT Gerd Glang.

CDR John Adler has reported to OMAO headquarters as the emerging technologies officer. He will be focusing on small platforms, such as unmanned aircraft systems and autonomous underwater vehicles.


The Exchange

Frequently asked questions, answered...

Question: I have noticed that the OMAO Nexus follows a writing style that is different from styles used in other OMAO and NOAA Corps documents. For example, some words and terms that I see capitalized in other documents are not capitalized in the OMAO Nexus. Why?

Answer: OMAO Nexus has adopted the U.S. Navy Style Guide, which also includes elements of Associated Press style. The U.S. Navy Style guide may be found at:

On the Radar

  • Jan. 4-8: MOC Command Conference, Annapolis, Md.
  • Jan. 11-29: Working Diver Course, Key West, Fla.
  • Jan. 12-29 Medical Person in Charge Course (MPIC) at MOC-A
  • Jan. 22: NOAA, Pacific Association of Commissioned Officers, Dining-In
  • Jan: 25-29: Divemaster Course, Key West, Fla.

The Water Cooler

Did you know some NOAA's bathymetric data has been integrated into Google Earth? The latest version of Google Earth allows you to dive beneath the ocean's surface for a 3D tour of some interesting underwater geography. A full list of bathymetric data partners is available here