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Meet the Crew: Garret Mayer, Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician

Garret Mayer with NOAA Ship Fairweather in the background.

NOAA's professional mariners play a key role in improving our understanding of the ocean and atmosphere. They also bring a mariner's know-how to NOAA's scientific research by directly participating in the operation and handling of scientific gear in the tumultuous ocean environment. Meet Garret Mayer, Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician on NOAA Ship Fairweather

What is your role at NOAA and what do you do?

I am a Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather. My regular duties as a technician include operating and maintaining the ship’s sonars and related computer equipment, as well as processing and submitting reports on the data collected. On occasion, I will work on the ship’s bridge as the quartermaster of the watch while the ship is in port. 

One of the things that I particularly like about my job aside from traveling, is just how different each day is. One day I may find myself wrench in hand, working outdoors to remove hydrographic sensors from the underside of boats. The following day, I may be processing data and submitting reports on it, or standing watch on the bridge.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the small city of Brevard, located in the mountainous south western corner of North Carolina. 

Where did you get your training and experience before joining NOAA? 

Most of my relevant training and work experience came to me over the last two years while on the job with NOAA. However, I did work as a part-time assistant network technician before joining which provided me with a decent background knowledge of computer hardware and networking.

What inspired you to work for NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations?

I was first inspired to work as a hydrographer by my geophysics professor in college, who explained how sonar works and mentioned that there were career opportunities at sea for anyone interested in seafloor mapping. It wasn’t until I had nearly completed college that I was inspired to work for NOAA directly by two of my peers, including Sarah Thompson, who now holds the position of senior survey technician aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

What was one of your favorite missions or experiences?

My favorite experiences on the job would probably have to be my time spent surveying in small boats around Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, during the late spring. Southeast Alaska has a unique and unrivaled beauty during the late spring, and it is a privilege to work in such scenic locations.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for NOAA?

If the thought of being away from home for about three out of every four months in the calendar year sounds very daunting, I would probably advise against taking a job at sea. However, if long absences from home are not discouraging, you are guaranteed to have an excellent start to your career. Your time within NOAA will be spent traveling the coastal waters of the U.S. while making new friends and memories that will last a lifetime. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

While not on duty at sea, I spent my free time reading, writing, playing board games with co-workers, or making pencil illustrations for the Fairweather’s monthly art-gallery. While off-duty in Alaskan ports, I spend my time hiking, camping, and exploring the small towns on foot.