NOAA/CG Sign Fleet Plan and Officer Exchange MOA

Coast Guard News release:

WASHINGTON – Senior leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) signed a Fleet Plan and Officer Exchange memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Wednesday at a ceremony at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters.

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Charles Michel, deputy commandant for operations, and NOAA Vice Adm. Michael Devany, deputy under secretary for operations, were the signing officials for the joint letter of promulgation.

The Coast Guard and NOAA have collaborated for over 200 years. The Fleet Plan supplements the Cooperative Maritime Strategy (CMS) that was signed in February 2013 and establishes a course of action to guide cooperation in the operation and maintenance of marine and aviation platforms. This direction also expands valuable inter-agency work currently underway, such as repairing NOAA ships at the Coast Guard Yard and advancing Arctic preparedness through collaboration with the Coast Guard’s Arctic Shield test and evaluation program.

The Officer Exchange MOU supports both the CMS and the Fleet Plan by allowing the exchange of officer personnel for the purpose of sharing professional knowledge, expertise, doctrine, and for the professional development of officers. Coast Guard officer candidates and the NOAA Corps already train together at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

“The Fleet Plan and Officer Exchange MOU builds on the long history of cooperation between NOAA and the Coast Guard. Our shared responsibilities in serving the American people’s interests in the maritime domain are fortified by our even closer relationship,” said Michel.

“NOAA and the Coast Guard share a commitment to providing the highest level of service to the nation,” said Devany. “These important agreements provide a framework for leveraging our respective resources and enhancing collaboration where we have common interests regarding personnel, fleet operations, research and development.”

More information about the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps is available at

I have considering suggesting that there should be a closer relationship between the Coast Guard and NOAA. Oceanography used to be a regular Coast Guard activity. The ships sometime look similar. We seem to have a lot in common or at least in parallel.

22 thoughts on “NOAA/CG Sign Fleet Plan and Officer Exchange MOA

    • I would have to disagree. you are making the coast guard do to many jobs.
      I would divide up the responsibilities between the three maritime fleets.
      NOAA = ATON/Science
      USCG = Maritime Security weather it be here or over there.
      USN = Navy’s job is always over there.
      If you really wanted to help the USCG you would do away with the units of the Navy that duplicate the USCG and transfer money and personal over.

      • Lyle, In nearly every take over attempt of the Coast Guard/Revenue Cutter Service by the Navy (and Congress) the argument has been the Coast Guard ? RCS duplicates the Navy. The exception was about 1855 when the Navy’s bureau chiefs found assimilation too problematic — especially about what to do with the RCS officers.

      • I was simply thinking about the overall cost to operate NOAA and the USCG. Which I do agree with you that the ATON & Science work should fall under NOAA & Maritime security should fall under the USCG. Though I think NOAA should be a branch or a division under the USCG umbrella. making the USCG overall responsible but having NOAA as a branch and division within the USCG. At the same time EEZ security should come under the USCG As well.

  1. “The Coast Guard and NOAA have collaborated for over 200 years. ”

    Here we go again. Corrupted history. Neither organization has been around for 200 years. People forget that collaboration for the Coast Survey meant the Navy taking over a revenue cutter and laying off the revenue crew and officers. The Revenue Cutter Service has also gotten bad press from this when the Coast Survey (Navy) took the cutter Washington. During a survey the CO of Washington (a Navy lieutenant) came upon the Spanish slaver Amistad. This CO took the slaver to Connecticut, where slavery was still legal, in the hope to get salvage money. Since the seizure took place off Sandy Hook, he should have gone into New York where slavery had been abolished. Of course, he would not have been able to claim salvage for the slaves. The result is well known but the brig Washington is constantly claimed to be a revenue cutter. The Navy (Coast Survey) took cutters and kept them for years without replacements.

    In 1970 the Coast Guard did attempt a coup and take over of NOAA. This was the time when the Coast Guard was trying to reprogram its image as the premier maritime science organization. As such, the Coast Guard wanted to get out of the military readiness business too. This exchange of officers may be another long term attempt to assume NOAA marine science functions.

    The irony, according to a marine scientist I know, is the Coast Guard wasted decades of time on the Ocean Station patrols for doing marine science. For the present about the only thing useful from those patrols are the weather notations in the cutter’s logs. However, we all know that those are not scientist notations.

    • The NOAA Commissioned Corps is one of the seven Uniformed Services but it is not a military service and not subject to the UCMJ. Are the NOAA officers assigned to the Coast Guard going to be militarized while assigned so they are subject to the UCMJ?

      • If NOAA was shifted to the USCG in full, then yes, they would be subject to the UCMJ. This has precedent. The Lighthouse Service (1939) and the Marine Inspection and Navigation (1946) came under Coast Guard regulations when they were absorbed. Also, the NOAA officers would receive USCG commissions or allowed to resign.

        Navy officers were banned from holding dual Navy/USRCS commissions in 1832. The cause was they were not loyal to the Treasury Department. They did not follow orders well and were not of the best mindset for they work.

        This has been done before.

  2. Sending Coast Guard Officers to NOAA ships, and NOAA Officers to Coast Guard Ships?
    Maybe black Hulls and red hulls but white hulls, I don’t think so? This union and exchange program will once again confuse the identity of the Coast Guard. In a post 911 world I believe the
    primary mission of the Coast Guard is maritime security,law enforcement operations, and search and rescue, not research and exploration.NOAA should remain on its own. For that matter the marine and air assets of Customs Border Protection (including the long term budget piece) should be turned over to the Coast Guard.

    • Jim, About 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed an executive order moving the Customs Patrol and Border Patrol to the Coast Guard — as cost savings measures. FDR picked up the same Hoover EO and ordered the transfer of both to the Coast Guard. Fortunately, Admiral R. R. Waesche was able to show there would be no cost savings and, in fact, there would be more costs. FDR killed the order.

      However, in 1933 FDR wanted to move the Coast Guard to the Navy Department again as a cost saving measure. This too was killed by public outcry that the Navy would just screw things up in the commercial marine. FDR noted that he, “did not know the Coast Guard had so many friends.”

      I suspect the Navy wanted the Coast Guard to have a place to put its officers — the same problem and excuse it used in the 1880s and 1890s.

  3. I am loving this exchange. I was not necessarily suggesting that the NOAA be absorbed by the Coast Guard but that perhaps a maritime department. MARAD, Marine Fisheries, the maritime portion of the Army Corps of Engineers, marine portion of NOAA, CG. Maybe some others?

    I never wrote the proposal because I did not feel like I understood the implications well enough.

    • The parent organization of NOAA like the USCG had a military aspect. The United States Survey of the Coast job was to chart and survey coasts and waterways. Had to uniform them during WW1 so they wouldn’t be executed as spies during WW1 and beyond. My problem with merging is that you loose the original purpose of the parent organization. Nobody knows about the RMS/RCS before the formation of the USCG, but everybody I’ve talked to in my life just thinks about the life saving service aspect. They don’t know that if the LSS didn’t merge with the RCS it probably would have gone away.

      Correct me if I’m wrong please, but comment if you could. I have to learn something today.

      • Lyle,

        The Jan. 28, 1915 act did not merge the two services. This is a common myth, a misreading and understanding of the act. The act is clear that there were to be two agencies under the new Coast Guard. Except for some minor organizational changes the LSS remained as it was under Sumner I. Kimball. The reason for putting the LSS in the Coast Guard was the RCS officers needed Kimball’s clout in the Congress. Kimball wanted it to get his bureau personnel (and himself) a retirement system. He had many problems with the RCS and it with he. The goal of the RCS was after 125 years to be recognized as part of the national armed services. This had been denied time and again. It was not until 1911 that Revenue Cutter men and officers could be buried in national cemeteries. Also, there was never a Revenue Marine Service, but this is for another time.

        The lifesaving stations remained fixed in time until the shifts caused by WWII but after the war the stations more or less returned to what they were in 19th century. To a large degree present era air stations are just updated LSS stations. This comes from the 1916 deal to create CG Aviation that was buried deep (about Section 750) in the 1916 naval appropriation act. CG Aviation was authorized but not funded. The deal was that CG air assets were for humanitarian purposes only and they were not to compete for military missions with the Army and Navy. Even modern administration of air stations is very similar in culture the 19th century life saving stations.

        I’ve studied this history for a very long time and it is fascinating history. To bad, if written no one would believe it.

  4. I’m not talking about if NOAA was absorbed into the Coast Guard I’m talking about this proposed officer exchange program. Since NOAA officers aren’t subject to the UCMJ would the individual NOAA officers assigned to Coast Guard cutters be militarized so they would be under the UCMJ while serving in this proposed exchange program?

    • They would have to be otherwise there would be two different sets of rules. This was the cause of Roger B. Taney eliminating in 1832 the dual commission of Navy officers serving on revenue cutters. The NOAA officers could be given temporary commissions in the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard already has temp officers on staff.

      • I was taught (many years ago!) that NOAA (Officers) were one of the seven commissioned officer corps, and that as such, they were subject to the UCMJ. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps, NOAA & Public Health Service Officers are all appointed by Congress; and subject to the UCMJ.

  5. More evidence of our growing relationship with the NOAA officer corp.
    “The U.S. Coast Guard recently transformed and consolidated its 30-year-old human resources and payroll systems for its 46,000-member workforce and along the way did the same for two other federal agencies, the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps. “

  6. PHS and NOAA commissioned corps are both one of the 7 uniformed services but they are not subject to the UCMJ unless they are specifically militarized. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is for the military. According to Title 10 of the U.S. code there are 5 armed forces and 7 uniformed services. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are armed forces. Uniformed services means the armed forces and the commissioned corps of NOAA and the commissioned corps of PHS. When I was in CBP we worked closely with the FDA. Some of the FDA employees were PHS commissioned officers. They were active duty, wore their uniforms had all the same benefits as all the other uniformed services. Commissary, exchange, medical and retirement but I asked and they were not subject to the UCMJ. There are provisions of law to militarize the entire NOAA corps or PHS corps or they can be individually militarized. Such as PHS doctors, dentists and nurses who are detailed to the CG.

    • The NOAA Corps is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States Government[note 1] and has over 300 commissioned officers and no enlisted or warrant officer ranks. The NOAA Corps today provides a cadre of professionals trained in engineering, earth sciences, oceanography, meteorology, fisheries science, and other related disciplines. NOAA Corps officers operate NOAA ships, fly NOAA aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA, as well as in positions in the United States Department of Defense, the United States Coast Guard, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the United States Department of State. Like its predecessors, the Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps and the ESSA Corps, the NOAA Corps provides a ready source of technically skilled officers which can be incorporated into the U.S. armed forces in time of war, and in peacetime supports defense requirements in addition to its purely civilian scientific projects.

      The NOAA Corps uses the same commissioned officer ranks as the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. While the grade of admiral has been established as a rank in the NOAA Corps, the rank has not been authorized for use by the United States Congress. Current NOAA Corps ranks rise from ensign to vice admiral, pay grades O-1 through O-9 respectively. NOAA Corps officers are appointed via direct commission and receive the same pay as other members of the uniformed services. They cannot hold a dual commission with another service, but inter-service transfers are sometimes permitted.

      Where as The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC),also referred to as the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, is the federal uniformed service of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

      Along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of two uniformed services that only consist of commissioned officers and has no enlisted or warrant officer ranks, although warrant officers have been authorized for use within the service.Officers of the PHS are classified as noncombatants, unless directed to serve as part of the armed forces by the President or detailed to a service branch of the armed forces. Members of the PHSCC wear the same uniforms as the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard (when assigned to the Coast Guard) with special corps insignia, and hold ranks equivalent to those of naval officers. Officers of the PHSCC receive their commissions through the PHSCC’s direct commissioning program.

  7. Pingback: USCGC Muskeget Torpedoed, Lost with all Hands–Sept. 9,1942 | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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