On May 22, 2009, over 450 members from Virginia’s maritime community and NOAA came together in Norfolk’s brand new cruise terminal to celebrate the 76th annual National Maritime Day celebration. This national observance recognizes the service of merchant mariners and the sacrifices made by many to deliver goods to the American people.
As part of National Maritime Day, CDR Tod Schattgen of the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson prepares to lay a wreath into Norfolk Harbor to honor merchant mariners who lost their lives at sea.
A special tribute was paid by the Hampton Roads maritime community to NOAA’s scientists, professionals, NOAA Corps Officers, and wage mariners—all of whom work diligently to support safe commerce on America’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.
Navigation tools produced by NOAA, including nautical charts, positioning data, and tides and currents information, are essential to ensuring safe maritime operations in Virginia and throughout the entire nation. Accurate charts and marine forecasts ensure all mariners reach their destinations safely, on time, and without impacting the environment.
"NOAA is honored to be recognized by our maritime colleagues in Virginia on National Maritime Day," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. "We are proud to work with the maritime community in Virginia and beyond to support safe and efficient navigation, and we salute the men and women who serve as the backbone of our nation’s marine transportation system."
The ceremony began with a memorial service featuring a wreath-laying from the bow of the Thomas Jefferson and a special low-altitude flyover tribute from NOAA’s WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aircraft. A luncheon followed to include a series of speeches from top Virginia maritime officials, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer, and a keynote address from Monica Medina, Senior Advisor to the NOAA Administrator.
The NOAA Survey Ship Thomas Jefferson is homeported in Norfolk, VA
“In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson recognized that America’s success depended on maritime commerce and border defense,” stated Medina. “The tools to succeed were accurate charts of shores, waters, and hazards to navigation.”
Navigation data collected by NOAA are also used for many other purposes by federal, state, and non-government organizations. Harbor depths, shoreline information, and water-level data are used by scientists and policy makers to sustain coastal communities, protect critical marine habitats, and ensure homeland security.
Just as in the founding days of the nation, Virginia remains a major transportation artery for the United States and is one of the world’s largest ports. The Port also neighbors the nation’s oldest marine protected area,the U.S.S. Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.
Several hundred NOAA personnel are located in the Hampton Roads area and work with port and state officials to ensure safe transportation and environmental protection, including many scientists and professionals from NOAA's Navigation Services offices (Office of Coast Survey, National Geodetic Survey, and Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services) and the U.S.S. Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, as well as several field offices for the National Weather Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.
National Maritime Day paid special tribute to the members of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, which is the nation's seventh, and smallest, uniformed service. NOAA Corps officers can be found operating NOAA ships and aircraft or serving in NOAA research laboratories and program offices. The services provided by officers are critical to acquiring data for NOAA science and delivering information and products to the public.