Rep. Case Introduces Legislation to Help Hurricane Hunters

May 1, 2019, 2:39 PM HST (Updated May 1, 2019, 2:42 PM)
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Congressman Ed Case on Monday, May 1, 2019, introduced into the U.S. House a proposal to place a specialized team within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that counts the famous “Hurricane Hunters” among its members on par with all other uniformed services.

Case’s co-introducers are Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska, the senior member of the House with a long history of working together with the Hawai‘i delegation, and Democratic Congressman Jared Huffman of California, the Chair of the House Natural Resources Commitee Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife. Case serves on that committee and subcommittee along with the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science which funds NOAA.

NOAA Ship Oscar Elton off Honolulu. PC: NOAA

“This measure aims to recognize and improve the smallest uniformed service in our country—the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps,” said Case. “These men and women operate a highly specialized fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft, several of which are based in Hawai‘i.”

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“Our NOAA is on the cutting edge of world-class research of our air and oceans, much of it around our island home,” said Case. “I introduced the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps Amendments Act to maintain the best and brightest officer corps through recruitment and retention reforms. Like the other six of our nation’s uniformed services, NOAA Corps officers spend much of their careers away from home—and the members of this service conduct important work at sea, in the air, and in remote locations such as the Antarctica. But while they are on the job in some of the harshest environments, they are often overlooked in the legislative process, resulting in a patchwork of statutory authorities, benefits and obligations of service. This measure better aligns the NOAA Corps with the other uniformed services as they continue their great service for NOAA and our nation.”

NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion N42RF, also known as “Kermit,” in its new paint scheme following a major 19-month overhaul. PC: NOAA

“The dedicated men and women of the NOAA Corps provide the scientific and operational expertise for NOAA to meet its mission to serve the nation each and every day,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “They deserve the level of personal and professional support that is rightfully afforded to other uniformed services.”

The NOAA Corps Officers lead the crews of the Oscar Elton Sette, a multi-purpose oceanographic research vessel whose home port is the Marine Operations Center stationed on Ford Island. The vessel conducts fisheries assessments, physical and chemical oceanography research, and marine mammal and marine debris surveys.

NOAA’s “Hurricane Hunters” piloted by NOAA Corps Officers fly aircraft into tropical cyclones to measure barometric pressure to provide accurate wind and speed information considered vital to accurately predict hurricane development and movement.

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