Awards and decorations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Example: NOAA Corps insignia, badges, and awards

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, has the authority to issue various awards and commendations to its members. These include individual honor awards, unit honor awards, service awards, training ribbons and qualification insignia. NOAA Corps awards and decorations include:

NOAA Corps Insignia[edit]

Command insignia[edit]

There are three NOAA Command insignia: NOAA Command-at-Sea, NOAA Small-Craft-Command, and NOAA Chief-of-Party.[1]

NOAA Command-at-Sea insignia
  • NOAA Command-at-Sea Insignia is a gold-colored pin consisting of a triangle superimposed on anchor flukes and an unfurled commissioning pennant showing six triangles. The NOAA Command-at-Sea insignia is authorized for incumbents serving under orders designating them in command of Class 1 through Class 5 NOAA commissioned vessels. A NOAA Corps officer who previously successfully held command (but is not currently in command) of a NOAA commissioned vessel for at least six months during which the vessel was engaged for at least four months in operations at sea, is authorized to wear the Command-at-Sea insignia.


NOAA Small-Craft-Command insignia
  • NOAA Small-Craft-Command Insignia is a bronze-colored insignia, of the same design and sizes as the Command-at-Sea insignia. NOAA Corps officers not qualifying for the Command-at-Sea insignia but serving under orders designating them as officer-in-charge or in command of NOAA vessels, greater than 50 feet in length up through Class 6, may wear the Small-Craft-Command insignia. An officer must have been in charge of or held command for at least six months during which the vessel spent four months in field operations, may wear the Small-Craft-Command insignia. This insignia is not worn when the Command-at-Sea insignia is authorized.


NOAA Chief-of-Party insignia
  • NOAA Chief-of-Party Insignia is a gold-colored pin consisting of a raised equilateral triangle. NOAA Chief-of-Party Insignia is authorized for incumbents serving in assignments designating them as Chief-of-Party or equivalent. A NOAA Corps officer who has previously served in an assignment as Chief-of-Party, or equivalent, for at least six months during which the unit was engaged for at least four months in field operations may wear the Chief-of-Party insignia.


For each of the three Command insignia, eligibility to wear them is not attained by a NOAA Corps officer being temporarily or acting in command due to absence, illness or transfer of the designated commanding officer, for periods of less than six continuous months.

An incumbent officer wears insignia centered 1/4 inch above the right breast pocket or pocket flap. When a name tag or ribbon bars are worn on the right breast, the insignia is centered 1/4 inch above them. On the men's Service Dress Blue coat, the insignia is positioned on the right breast as though there were a pocket. On Formal Dress and Dinner Dress Jacket (Blue or White), men wear the insignia centered on the right lapel, 3 inches below the notch; women wear the insignia centered on the right lapel, down one third the distance between the shoulder seam and the coat hem.

A post tour officer wears insignia on the left breast 1/4 inch below the top of the pocket/flap. Only one post-tour command insignia may be worn; the choice of insignia is at the individual's discretion. When wearing two qualification insignia, the command insignia is worn 1/4 inch below the secondary insignia, or on uniforms with pocket flaps, 1/4 inch below the flap.

Qualification insignia[edit]

NOAA Corps officers who have qualified as aviators, divers, submariners, parachutists, &c., or are otherwise entitled to wear a qualification insignia at their discretion. As follows are the qualification insignia awarded by the NOAA.[1]

NOAA Deck Officer insignia
  • NOAA Deck Officer Insignia is a gold-colored pin displaying breaking waves, with a central device consisting of a fouled anchor surcharged with a NOAA Corps device. NOAA Corps officers certified as Senior Watch Officer may wear the NOAA Deck Officer insignia after authorization by the Director of the NOAA Corps.


NOAA Aviator insignia
  • NOAA Aviator Insignia is a gold-colored pin, winged, with a central device consisting of a fouled anchor surcharged with a NOAA Corps device. NOAA Corps officer pilots and navigators may wear the NOAA aviator insignia after authorization by the Director of the NOAA Corps.


NOAA Diver insignia
  • NOAA Diver Insignia is a gold-colored pin consisting of a NOAA Corps device surrounded by two dolphins. NOAA Corps officers qualified as NOAA divers may wear the NOAA diver insignia after authorization by the Director of the NOAA Corps.


NOAA Corps officers with multiple qualifications may wear two insignia, placing one in the primary position and one in the secondary position. Only one insignia from any qualification category (i.e., diver, aviator, etc.) is authorized for wear at the same time.

When wearing the insignia with ribbon bars or medals, the primary insignia is centered above ribbon bars or medals with the lower edge of the device 1/4-inch above the top row of ribbon bars or medals. The secondary insignia is centered below ribbon bars with the top of the device 1/4 inch below the top of the pocket or pocket flap, or centered below medals with the top of the device 1/4 inch below the lowest row of medals.

Without ribbon bars or medals, the primary insignia is centered above the left pocket with the lower edge of the device 1/4 inch above the top of the pocket. In dress uniforms, men center the insignia on the left lapel, 3 inches below the notch; women center the insignia on the left lapel down one-third the distance between the shoulder seam and coat hem. Secondary insignia is centered 1/4 inch below the top of the pocket or pocket flap. On Dinner Dress Jacket uniforms, position the secondary insignia 1/4 inch below the primary insignia. Secondary insignia are not authorized for wear on working uniforms.

NOAA Corps decorations, medals and awards[edit]

Members of the NOAA Corps may be authorized to wear awards and decorations presented by the Commerce Department, Defense Department and other uniformed services, the following list is limited to those awards presented by the NOAA Corps.[2][3][4]

Personal decorations[edit]

  • Department of Commerce - Gold Valor Aw.gif Department of Commerce Gold Medal - Extraordinary achievement supporting critical objectives of the Department of Commerce with significant beneficial effect on the United States or world.
  • DOCBronzeMedalRibbon.gif Department of Commerce Bronze Medal - Extraordinary achievement supporting specific objectives of the Department of Commerce with beneficial effect on the United States or world.
  • NOAA Meritorious Service Medal.png NOAA Corps Meritorious Service Medal - Voluntary acts of heroism such as to stand out distinctly above normal expectations, meritorious service worthy of special recognition, and/or outstanding career service worthy of special recognition, in view of an officer’s sustained performance over multiple assignments.
  • Administrators Award.JPG NOAA Administrator’s Award - An individual decoration recognizing significant contributions in engineering and application, program administration and management, scientific research and achievement, public service, or equal employment opportunity.
  • NOAA Corps Commendation.JPG NOAA Corps Commendation Medal - The highest honorary award of the NOAA Corps: An individual decoration recognizing significant heroic, meritorious, professional service, or achievement warranting greater recognition than the NOAA Corps Achievement Medal.
  • NOAA Special Achievement Ribbon.JPG NOAA Corps Achievement Medal - An individual decoration recognizing a NOAA Corps officer or a member of another uniformed service detailed, assigned, or attached to NOAA for Sustained Superior Performance or for a Special Act.
  • NOAA Corps Directios Aw.JPG NOAA Corps Director's Ribbon - An individual decoration recognizing a NOAA Corps officer or a member of another uniformed service detailed, assigned, or attached to NOAA for noteworthy achievements meriting recognition of lesser extent than the NOAA Corps Achievement Medal.

Unit awards[edit]

  • NOAA Citation.JPG NOAA Units Citation Award - A group award recognizing employees in NOAA who, through their individual and collective efforts, have made substantive contributions to the programs or objectives for which NOAA was established.

Non-government decorations[edit]

  • NOAA Association of Commissioned Officers (ACO) Award Medal
NOAA ACO Award.JPG NOAA ACO Junior Officer of the Year = NOAA ACO Award Medal: An individual decoration awarded annually to a NOAA Corps officer, below the grade of lieutenant commander, to recognize outstanding contributions to NOAA, outstanding performance, and/or the positive reflection cast by the recipient upon the NOAA Corps.
USA - NOAA ACO Award With S.png NOAA ACO Science Award = NOAA ACO Award Medal with bronze "S" device: An individual decoration recognizing an outstanding scientific contribution made by an officer. This award is distinguished from the Junior Officer of the Year Award by a bronze-colored "S" attached to the large medal, miniature medal, and ribbon bar.
ACO2.JPG NOAA ACO Engineering Award = NOAA ACO Award Medal with bronze "E" device: An individual decoration recognizing an outstanding engineering contribution made by an NOAA Corps officer. This award is distinguished from the Junior Officer of the Year Award by a bronze-colored "E" attached to the large medal, miniature medal, and ribbon bar.
SAME-Colbert Medal Ribbon.png Society of American Military Engineers Colbert Medal with silver triangle device: An individual award recognizing a member of the National Ocean Service, officer or civilian, active or retired, for the most outstanding contribution to military engineering through achievement in design, construction, administration, research, or development. Award is made by SAME.
SAME-Karo Award Ribbon.png Society of American Military Engineers Karo Award with bronze triangle device: A group award presented annually by SAME to a field unit of the National Ocean Service that has made an outstanding contribution in an engineering or scientific field.

Campaign and service awards[edit]

  • NOAA National Response Deployment Medal ribbon.png NOAA Corps National Response Deployment Medal - Awarded to a member of the NOAA Corps, or a member of another uniformed service detailed, assigned, or attached to NOAA who distinguish themselves by significant participation in national response operations.
  • NOAA Volunteer Service Medal.png NOAA Corps Outstanding Volunteer Service Award Medal - Awarded to a member of the NOAA Corps, or a member of another uniformed service detailed, assigned, or attached to NOAA who, subsequent to 1 August 2007, performed outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature.
  • NOAA Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.png NOAA Sea Service Deployment Ribbon - Retroactive to 1 January 2002, it is awarded for twelve months accumulated sea duty, which may also include temporary duty at sea, that includes at least one 90 consecutive-day deployment.
  • NOAA Corps Atlantic Sea Svc.JPG NOAA Corps Atlantic Service Ribbon - A service award recognizing a sea duty assignment aboard a NOAA vessel operating in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes or adjacent waters.
  • NOAA Corps Pacific Sea Svc R.JPG NOAA Corps Pacific Service Ribbon - A service award recognizing a sea duty assignment aboard a NOAA vessel operating in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Bering Sea, or adjacent waters.
  • NOAA Corps Mobile Duty.JPG NOAA Corps Mobile Duty Service Ribbon - A service award recognizing a mobile duty assignment in the United States, its possessions or territories.
  • NOAA Corps International Svc R.JPG NOAA Corps International Service Ribbon - A service award recognizing an assignment involving international service aboard ship or on land.
  • NOAA National Response Service Ribbon.png NOAA Corps National Response Service Ribbon - A service award recognizing significant support to NOAA during a period of national emergency.

Award attachments[edit]

Only one of each medal or service ribbon may be worn by NOAA Corps personnel. Subsequent awards are indicated by certain attachments to the medal's suspension ribbon or on the ribbon bar.

  • Award star - 5/16 inch award stars are worn on personal decorations to denote subsequent awards of the same award. A gold award star represents a single subsequent award. A silver award star is worn in lieu of five gold stars, representing a sixth award of a medal.
  • Service star - 3/16 inch service stars are worn on unit, service, and awards of non-government societies. A bronze star is worn on the ribbon bar to denote subsequent awards. A silver service star is worn in lieu of five bronze stars and represents a sixth award.
  • Triangles - 3/16 in triangles are worn, point up, on three awards worn by NOAA Corps personnel. A bronze 3/16 inch triangle is worn on the ribbon bar of the Society of American Military Engineers Karo Award. A silver 3/16 inch triangle is worn on two awards. The first is the Society of American Military Engineers Colbert Medal ribbon bar. The second is the NOAA Corps International Service Ribbon to denote an overseas Permanent Change of Station tour outside of the United States, its possessions and territories.
  • 3/16 inch S - The bronze colored S is worn on the NOAA ACO medal suspension ribbon and ribbon bar to denote the ACO Science Award.
  • 3/16 inch E - The bronze colored E is worn on the NOAA ACO medal suspension ribbon and ribbon bar to denote the ACO Engineering Award.

Incentive awards (without medal or ribbon)[edit]

  • NOAA Technology Transfer Award[5]
  • NOAA Distinguished Career Award


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b NOAA Corps Directive, Chapter 12, Part 6, Insignia, Medals, and Ribbon Bars, dated 21 November 2003, last accessed 9 April 2014
  2. ^ NOAA Corps Directive, Chapter 12, Part 7, Awards, dated 21 November 2003, last accessed 9 April 2014
  3. ^ NOAA Corps, Commissioned Personnel Center Update, Officer Personnel Management Division, dated December 2008, last accessed 22 March 2013
  4. ^ "Department of Commerce and NOAA Award Ribbons". NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Attachment to NAO 202-451: NOAA Incentive Awards Program". Office of the Chief Adminsrative Officer National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 18 March 2013.