Little Known 7th Uniformed Service Doesn't Fight Wars - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Little Known 7th Uniformed Service Doesn't Fight Wars

By Mary Simms

PACIFIC OCEAN (KHNL)  - Just about everyone's heard of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. But, there's another little known uniformed service, NOAA's commissioned corps. Here in Hawaii you'll find them, among other places, on board the NOAA ship Hiialakai.

They dress like the Navy, they even have Navy rank. But, this is a totally different uniformed service, and you probably didn't even know it existed.

"We are the seventh service, and we're kinda like a cross between the Navy and the Coast Guard, we wear Navy uniforms but have a very different mission. We don't fight wars or go out to help sink ships. We go out to be stewards of the environment and do ocean research," said Ensign Patrick Jorgensen.

They have to meet all of the same requirements as officers in the Navy, like fire training for instance. But, they also must have degrees in fields like science or math.

"We're basically capable of performing almost any mission that NOAA could throw at us."

Like successfully completing a "mock" man-overboard rescue in under five minutes. One reason you haven't heard of these officers is there aren't very many of them --only around 300 working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For this junior officer, this job is a dream come true.

"I mean this is the NASA of the ocean. We are the astronauts of the ocean, we get to go out and explore parts of the ocean that no one's ever seen. And its pretty great."

The commissioned corps officers are an important part of NOAA. They can usually be found operating one of NOAA's 18 ships or 14 aircraft.

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