NOAA is inviting students in the Northeast to get creative and become involved in the nation's maritime heritage by holding a ship naming contest for sixth- to twelfth-grade students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The contest, which began February 1, runs through March 30, 2007. The winning entry will be announced in May. The top team will name a new Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull Coast Mapping Vessel (SWATH CMV), the first ship of its kind to be built for NOAA. One of NOAA's missions is to create the nation's nautical charts for safe marine navigation. When completed, the new SWATH will map the seafloor in the coastal areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea and Great Lakes using sonar.
Working in teams of four to eight students, students will research one name of their choosing for the ship and work on an essay to support their selection. Essays will be judged on imagination and creativity, evidence of educational value and ocean literacy.
"This is an exciting opportunity for students to learn more about NOAA's coast survey heritage and make their mark in history," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "We hope that everyone who participates learns more about how the safe navigation of vessels is essential to the nation's economy and national security."
The winning team of students and their teacher will be invited to attend the SWATH's keel laying ceremony on June 15, 2007, in Moss Point, Miss., where the ship is currently being built. A high-level NOAA official also will present a duplicate keel plate to the team's school in the fall.
NOAA created the SWATH contest to encourage interest in the agency's environmental mission and history, particularly relating to coastal mapping. This contest is especially tied to NOAA's history. This year, NOAA is celebrating 200 years of science, service and stewardship. The agency traces its roots to 1807, when President Thomas Jefferson established the Survey of the Coast, the nation's first federal science agency. The SWATH will continue in the tradition of the earliest survey vessels that charted the nation's coastal waterways.
Construction of the SWATH is expected to be completed in 2008. Once it becomes operational, the ship will be home ported in New Castle, N.H. NOAA is a partner of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and the Joint Hydrographic Center, a University of New Hampshire/NOAA Cooperative Institute, based at the university.
"Students will have fun while learning about their local coastal ecosystems, oceanography and history," said Louisa Koch, NOAA director of education, whose office is sponsoring the contest. "At the same time, they will be helping NOAA achieve one of its educational goals: to bring to America's students a greater appreciation and understanding of our environment. We hope to create a new generation of stewards who will watch over and protect our precious natural resources for generations to come."
NOAA ships are operated, managed and maintained by its Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which is composed of civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, one of the nation's seven uniformed services. NOAA Corps officers serve aboard the ships and aircraft of the NOAA research and survey fleet, and bring their operational expertise to assignments in shore-based program offices throughout NOAA.
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 website: NOAA Ship Naming Contest