Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren't NOAA's Hurricane Hunter planes torn apart in storm?
Planes are generally not destroyed by strong winds while in flight. Airliners routinely fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 mph over the U.S. during the winter. It's the shear, or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds, that can destroy an aircraft, or cause its loss of control. That's why NOAA's Hurricane Hunter aircraft don't fly through tornadoes. In a like manner, NOAA pilots and crew routinely (but never casually) fly in the high-wind environment of the hurricane and don't fear it tearing the plane apart. However, they are always monitoring for "hot spots" of severe weather and shear that they can often identify on radar and avoid if it's too severe.
What is the NOAA Diving Manual and where can I get it?
The NOAA Diving Manual is a comprehensive reference specifically designed for the diving professional. It was originally written for use by NOAA divers to assist them in conducting various operations and significant contributions to the manual are still provided by experienced NOAA personnel. The NOAA Diving Manual should not be confused with the NOAA Diving Standards and Safety Manuals which contain NOAA's diving regulations.
When and how long are the Teacher at Sea cruises?
Participants can expect to be at sea anywhere from one week to one month, with the average cruise lasting 12-14 days. Most of our participants try to sail on cruises offered during the summer vacation, but cruises take place throughout most of the year on a space-available basis.
What must my major(s) be to apply for the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corps program?
Applicants must receive a four-year degree. All majors are acceptable, however, engineering, the physical and life sciences, or mathematics are preferred. All candidates must meet minimum course requirements, regardless of the degree they hold.
Does NOAA Corps decide where I will be stationed or will I have input?
During Basic Officer Training Class, each officer will submit a memorandum listing his/her top three choices for their first ship assignment. The needs of the service are primary and there is no guarantee of assignment. However, each officer's assignment preference and education is taken into consideration. For future assignments, whenever possible, NOAA Corps will try to match an officer's assignment with one of his/her skills, background and assignment preferences.
For more information on NOAA's fleet click on NOAA's Marine Operations
For billet descriptions click on Assignments
I have a private pilot's license; can I be commissioned as an aviator?
NOAA Corps has two venues for recruiting pilots:
- Personnel brought in as an Inter-Service Transfer from the US Navy for the distinct purpose of P-3 support.
- Acceptance to flight training following an initial three year assignment at sea as a bridge watchstander.
Note: An officer is not guaranteed aviation training upon commissioning. Pilots and Navigators have strict vision and other physical requirements.
Where can I find information on a specific NOAA Ship?
What does it mean to be a NOAA Corps Officer?
The NOAA Corps, the Nation’s seventh uniformed service, incorporates many aspects of a commissioned officer's career with scientific mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This service seeks officers for an initial two year sea assignment. Basic Officer Training Classes (BOTC) are held in February and August.
One of the principle objectives of the NOAA Corps training program is to develop maritime and nautical skills, with emphasis on shipboard operations. Following each Basic Officer Training Program, our newly trained officers begin their trek to Woods Hole, Charleston, Norfolk, Pascagoula, Seattle, and Honolulu to meet and join what they will call home for the next two years, a NOAA ship. Upon reporting, I expect each officer to work hard, but I want him or her to have some fun too. As much as they’d like their training to be over, it’s really just beginning. Upon reporting aboard their ships they will be assigned watchstanding responsibilities and tasked with various collateral duties. They will be required to learn the in’s and out’s of the ship in addition to learning how to safely deploy and recover fishing gear, underwater cameras, oceanographic sampling instrumentation, and sonar devices, to name just a few. There is also a great deal to learn about the programs that our ships sup port. Yes, training will continue.
The flexibility and mobility of the NOAA Corps provides NOAA an indispensable tool. The officer will find themselves assigned throughout the Agency, in all line offices. I believe NOAA Corps officers have the best job in all of NOAA. They may work on fisheries’ issues in one assignment, satellite operations in another, and an administrative position in yet another, and still definitely have the opportunity to go to sea or fly in between these assignments. All the time they remain a NOAA Corps Officer. Initially each officer will be told what to do, but quickly they will exercise their leadership skills and it will be incumbent upon them to lead and manage. We will be counting on them.
Being a NOAA Corps officer is a privilege and an honor. Newly commissioned officers have wound their way through a very competitive recruiting process and completed a rigorous training program. As NOAA Corps officers, they will be a critical part of the web of science and management within NOAA. They have developed the discipline to succeed, and they have the esprit de corps that build strong teams.
Thank you again for visiting our site. I wish you fair winds and following seas and look forward to seeing you in the NOAA fleet.
— Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, NOAA (Ret)
What is marine debris?
Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there. Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world's oceans and waterways.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. Learn more about marine debris and find out how to prevent it.
NOAA divers from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center diving unit have been working since 1996 to remove marine debris, specifically derelict fishing gear, from the Hawaiian Archipelago. Every year they set out on the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai to survey vast swaths of coast line and coral habitat to collect tons of the derelict fishing gear. Read more about why this is important and what they have collected so far on the NOAA Fisheries website.
If I am a retired service member, can I join NOAA Corps?
Retiring from any of the other six uniform services makes an applicant ineligible for appointment.