NOAA Ship Schedules

I’m curious to learn what specifically goes in the off season. I’m sure there’s lots of maintenance, etc., but on the survey operations side it’s a little vague to me what the workload would look like.

In the off season a lot of people go on leave. There is training and maintenance. It’s nothing particularly exotic. I see a lot of them doing equipment and software upgrades and stuff like that.

So if you are coming in to be a Survey Tech there are a few different ways that you could work it. As some one said you can be perm. on one ship as a Survey Tech (or possible Senior Survey Tech) If you do this MOST the survey boats do two weeks underway followed by at least four days in port, for about 180 Days at sea a year. the other half the year the ship is in the home port or in a repair port. ST work generally is to re-calibrate all shipboard sensors, and other data collection equipment, finish cleaning and submitting data from the field season, planning data acquisition for the next field season plus a bit of leave and a month or so of training, then other repair projects on board the vessels. If you take this type of job there is not need to hold a residence as you will not be seeing it much. You will stay attached to the ship in their home port time, it is VERY unlikely that you could work out of a marine center. There is the Relief pool as was mentioned, but that is not really an option for a new hire ST, it is very competitive for STs to get into the Relief Pool. The other option would be to be a physical scientist, which are based in either Norfolk, VA (may be relocated in the next 5-10 years to Newport, RI) or Seattle, WA. These jobs are a little more sought after and generally involve going to sea a few months of the year but not always to the same ship. These jobs are also fairly sought after but come available from time to time. There is also a pilot program on one of the east coast ships that is a rotation for the Physical Scientist, but that is a pilot still so, everything could change but for now I wouldn’t count on this as an option. As with everything in the government it is fairly convoluted on how it all works. You will have to claim a home of record (where your taxes are based out of ) and a Home port (either the home port of the ship or the closest port that NOAA keeps ships to you home of record) The later will be used for flying you home for the 1 Quality of life flight you will be entitled to after your first year working with NOAA, and for any other official Travel (to or from training while on leave). In addition to your base pay you will earn a fair amount in Over time (most people gross 1.5-1.75 times their base pay each year), there will be a 5% matching contribution to a Thrift Savings Plan (you need to be federal employee for 3 years to receive any of the matching funds.) Healthcare is provided at a cost as is dental and vision. Hope this helps


Thank you!!! That helps a lot! Some of the hypothetical schedules for physical scientists you laid out sound ideal to me, but it sounds like getting on as as Survey Tech is a good foot in the door for that. i know they do a direct hire for those, rather than the whole USAJobs run-around. Could be a good segway into other NOAA gigs.

We are told the homeports will be concentrated in Newport RI and Newport, OR. We’ll see how well that works out. We are being kicked off of Pier Papa in Charleston (the old NOAA pier is kaput) so the Coasties can bring in a couple more of their new National Security cutters. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep an open mind because shit’s changing.

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If I could bother the thread one or two more times, how does NOAA compensate and coordinate travel to and from ship? Do they reimburse for travel to the homeport or to the port the ship is currently stationed? I know in some military branches (and I had friends who flew on survey planes) they can be generous with that sort of compensation to travel long distances to where you deploy. Still in the dark on exactly how this works.

Signing off, they fly you to your homeport. If you live elsewhere, and it costs more to get you there, you pay the difference. You get per diem for your day of travel.

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Gotcha, thanks for all the input. Looks like if all goes well monday when I get my medical cleared up (wisdom teeth) I’ll be in Norfolk for training then onto the Thomas Jefferson for a Gulf survey season! Nervous and excited! Hopefully the girlfriend is understanding, but gotta give the non 9-5 a shot!

Good luck. As far as the girlfriend goes, she will either learn to deal with it or not, better you find out sooner than later…