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John C. Borniak, Commander NOAA Corps Retired Banner

Picture of John Bortniak

John has been a NOAA employee since 1976. John grew up in rural Connecticut and developed strong interests in fishing, boating and scuba diving. He attended the State University of New York Maritime College in the Bronx, New York, graduating with a B.S. in Meteorology and Oceanography, and earning a Coast Guard issued Third Mates License.

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps was a very attractive career for him, offering opportunity for adventure and work directly related to his interests. He was commissioned as an ensign in the NOAA Corps in 1976 during his college graduation ceremony.

Recently retired from the NOAA Corps, he is continuing his NOAA career, working for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). John's career with NOAA has led him around the country and indeed to the ends of the earth, as well. Every NOAA Corps Officer has a unique career path, and John's was certainly an exciting one. But his experiences are not unusual given the breadth of opportunities the NOAA Corps has to offer. picture of john in antarctic

His shore-based assignments included a three-year tour with the Geophysical Monitoring for Climatic Change Program (now the Climate Diagnostics Lab) in Boulder, Colorado. As part of that tour he spent a year as the NOAA Observatory Station Chief at the South Pole in Antarctica in 1979. At the South Pole he experienced six months of darkness, temperatures to minus 106 Fahrenheit and, for eight months of his one year stay, total isolation from the outside world, other than by radio.

Another year was spent as a climatological observer at the Moana Loa Laboratory in Hilo, Hawaii. In Hawaii, he worked at the 10,000 ft level on the side of the Moana Loa volcano. Both of these tours involved the monitoring of long-term trends in atmospheric aerosols, carbon dioxide, halocarbons (Freon, etc), ozone and other atmospheric constituents. His work was just part of a long succession of NOAA's research and monitoring of such parameters as ozone and CO2, long before terms like "hole in the ozone layer" and "global warming" became household expressions.

He was assigned as a fisheries oceanographer, working in the NMFS Woods Hole Laboratory and sailing on oceanographic research cruises aboard the DELAWARE II and ALBATROSS IV. He was also the NOAA Port Captain of Woods Hole, Massachusetts for three years and NOAA Port Captain of San Diego for two more years. Duties of these assignments included all aspects of shoreside support for NOAA research vessels including scheduling cruises, writing cruise instructions, hiring of personnel, ordering of food, fuel, supplies, contracting for ship maintenance and repair, handing payroll, and acting as the liaison between the vessels and the NMFS laboratories.

Interspersed among these shore-based assignments, he accumulated seven years of sea duty including tours as fourth officer aboard the GEORGE B. KELEZ (now decommissioned), studying the New York Bight ecosystem, and Operations Officer aboard the ALBATROSS IV conducting fishery stock assessment and research cruises from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

John was also the captain of the MURRE II (until it was decommissioned) and then commanded the JOHN N. COBB, conducting fisheries research in Southeast Alaska. Sailing as an observer aboard a Norwegian fisheries research vessel, he also reached just 570 miles short of the North Pole. One of John's last assignments with the Corps was in Maryland at the NOAA Corps headquarters assisting in establishing vessel requirements for the design of new NOAA fisheries research vessels. His final assignment in the strategic planning division of NMFS led to an opportunity for civilian employment and a chance to settle down in Maryland. He now lives in Maryland with his wife and two children and still enjoys archery, hunting, fishing, photography and bicycling.

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Last Updated:
October 12, 2006 10:39 AM