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NOAA SHIPS ARRIVE AT NEW FORD ISLAND HOME PORT

NOAA aerial image of Pearl Harbor and planned site of NOAA Pacific Regional Center on Ford Island.March 22, 2007 Two Hawaii-based NOAA ships arrived at their new home port at historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, with a third NOAA ship to follow later this year. The three NOAA ships acquire data that primarily support fisheries, coral reef and oceanographic research. (Click NOAA aerial image for larger view of Pearl Harbor and planned site of NOAA Pacific Regional Center on Ford Island. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The arrival of Oscar Elton Sette on March 13 and Hi'ialakai on March 18 at Pier F-10 heralded the permanent presence of NOAA on Ford Island. Ka'imimoana will relocate when additional historic building renovations are completed this September, allowing all NOAA ship operations to move out of Honolulu Harbor to Ford Island.

"The renovated pier facilities on Ford Island will enable NOAA to fully consolidate ship operations, resulting in greater efficiency and long-term savings," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "Getting the first two ships into their new home port is a major milestone in our overall plan to bring NOAA's Oahu facilities together."

The U.S. Navy has authorized NOAA's exclusive use of a portion of Ford Island for its ship operations function as part of an upcoming larger NOAA presence—the Pacific Regional Center. The ship operations facility project entails two former Navy piers (F-9 and F-10), small boat finger piers, a small boat ramp for launching and retrieval, site work for new utilities and roads, and a 12,000-square foot operations building. NOAA is paying for the $21 million renovation project under a Navy contract with Healy Tibbetts Builders Inc.

"I would like to commend all team members from NOAA and the Navy for their hard work," said Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. "Together, they have built a home for our ocean-faring colleagues on Sette, Hiialakai, and Ka’imimoana—a world class home port that appropriately honors these men and women of the sea for their commitment to oceanic and atmospheric science. Now, we must build on this foundation to create a home for their land-based colleagues who rely on their intrepid voyages to bring home the data and discoveries that fuel science, management and climate studies. The road ahead may be long, but we will travel it the same way we reached today's important milestone: by walking together, one step at a time."

The NOAA Pacific Regional Center is a multi-year, multi-phase construction project to consolidate NOAA programs and operations on the island of Oahu into a single facility on Ford Island. The multi-mission center will create a worker-friendly campus environment combining office, laboratory and research, marine animal treatment and ship operations facilities. About 500 employees representing five NOAA agencies and several staff offices will work at the center when it is completed.

The Pacific Regional Center project will entail renovating four additional buildings adjacent to the current Ship Operations Facility and the construction of a new building to connect the renovated hangar buildings. The work is planned for design and construction over the next six years.

NOAA research ships are operated and managed by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, composed of civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The ships acquire data that NOAA scientists use to better understand and predict changes in the environment in which we live, and that decision makers use to make policies that ultimately shape our economy.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps

Media Contact:
Delores Clark, NOAA National Weather Service in Honolulu, Hawaii, (808) 532-6411 or Jeanne Kouhestani, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, (301) 713-7693