Captain John Lowell Named Director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey

Lowell will also serve as Chief Hydrographer for the United States

November 2, 2009

Lowell adn Barnum.

NOAA Corps Capt. John E. Lowell, Jr., new director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey with Capt. Steven R. Barnum, former director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Corps Capt. John E. Lowell, Jr., has been named the new director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. He will simultaneously serve as the U.S. national hydrographer. In his dual roles, Lowell will be responsible for overseeing NOAA’s hydrographic services, including the mapping and charting of all U.S. navigational waters, as well as represent the United States in international hydrographic efforts.

 “We’re delighted that John Lowell has been named to this important leadership post within the National Ocean Service,” said John H. Dunnigan, assistant administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “He brings to the position a wealth of experience through a wide variety of assignments during his 26-year NOAA career. His experience and leadership will serve the nation well as we focus on important changes that will improve navigational safety and coastal protection.”

Lowell takes over the director's helm after serving for the past three years as chief of the Office of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. In that position, he oversaw the testing and acceptance of a new system that will revolutionize the production of nautical charts. The new chart system, which is undergoing a five-year transition period, will improve the quality, consistency, and timeliness of providing nautical charting data to the nation.

Graduating in 1982 from the Florida Institute of Technology, Lowell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanographic Technology. He recently completed the JFK Harvard Senior Executive Fellowship program.

Lowell began his career with NOAA in 1984, serving over ten years at sea aboard many NOAA ships, including Mt Mitchell, Rude, Heck, and Surveyor. More recently, he served as executive officer on NOAA Ship Rainier and commanding officer on NOAA Ship Fairweather.

Lowell succeeds Capt. Steven R. Barnum, who completes a 29-year federal career, all of it in the NOAA Corps. Barnum served as director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey and U.S. national hydrographer for the past three years.

“Captain Lowell brings to this position a deep understanding of the technical and operational challenges facing 21st century navigation,” said Barnum. “His proven leadership in developing the processes and partnerships that support growing needs of maritime commerce and coastal planning will be instrumental in the coming years.”

The Office of Coast Survey, originally formed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, maintains the nation’s suite of nautical charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to national emergencies and search for underwater obstructions and wreckage. It also develops hydrographic models to help coastal planners understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.