To mark the deployment of NOAA ships Fairweather and Rainier as they begin a summer of hydrographic survey projects in the Arctic, NOAA hosted a ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) base in Kodiak, Alaska.
The ceremony opened with a joint USCG and NOAA color guard while the national anthem was sung by retired USCG Chief Aviation Machinist Mate, Joe Symonoski. Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of the Office of Coast Survey, gave opening remarks.
“Characteristically, we are quite modest about the missions and accomplishments of our NOAA ships. But today, we are taking the time to recognize the planned deployment of both ships to undertake hydrographic surveys in the U.S. Arctic,” Glang said. “It is important for us because of the renewed investment NOAA is making in this region at a time when the Arctic has become more accessible to marine transportation.”
Vice Admiral Michael Devany, deputy under secretary for operations at NOAA, was the keynote speaker and provided comments on NOAA’s mission, the history of charting in the region, the importance of partnerships and safety, and directed inspirational words to the crew.
“At the end of the day, the Nation relies on the work you do, for protection of life, property, and livelihoods,” Devany said. “Many of you may have heard that we know more about the surface of the moon and have mapped more of the surface of Mars than our own planet. You are the ones who are going to change that.”
Four additional speakers were featured during the ceremony:
- Captain Jeffrey Westling, commanding officer, USCG Base, Kodiak
- Greg Kaplan, military and veterans liaison for Senator Murkowski
- Commander Edward Van Den Ameele, commanding officer of NOAA Ship Rainier
- Commander David Zezula, commanding officer of NOAA Ship Fairweather
To involve the local community in Kodiak, Coast Survey hosted an art contest at local elementary schools. Children were asked to illustrate what the ocean means to them or what they think it is like to be on a research vessel. The three winners from Kodiak Christian School were recognized at the ceremony. Their prize was a tour of NOAA Ship Rainier.
The ceremony was concluded with a performance by the Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers. Wearing beaded headdresses and clothing, the dancers told stories of fair weather, kayaking, and peace. The Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers, whose members range from toddlers to adults, traditionally pass on knowledge about their heritage and everyday life through dance and song. They have been performing since 1987.
Following the ceremony, Captain Jeffrey Westling, commanding officer of USCG Base Kodiak, provided a tour of the base.