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NOAA achievement medal awarded

Pictured is LTjg Jarlenski with acting NMSAS superintendent Atuatasi Peau.  [photo: BC]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Yesterday morning, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS) was honored to present the NOAA Corps Achievement Medal to LTjg (Lieutenant Junior Grade) Lauren Jarlenski.

The award, according to NMSAS officials, is for Jarlenski's "sustained superior performance as Junior Officer and Navigation Officer aboard the NOAA Ship, Pisces." 

LTjg Jarlenski reported to the NMSAS in July 2017 after serving two years aboard the Pisces — a fisheries research vessel stationed in Mississippi. 

When asked for comments yesterday, LTjg Jarlenski explained that the NOAA Corps is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which falls under the United States Department of Commerce.

"And one of the line offices is the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) under which there are approximately 16 research ships. Pisces is one of them," she said.

"When i joined, I became a part of uniform service, meaning I don't go on overseas deployment like those in the US Navy or Coast Guard. My first assignment was on board a ship, and afterwards I rotated to a land assignment which is how i ended up here in American Samoa," she continued, adding that once she completes her assignment with the NMSAS, she will rotate back to a sea assignment.

"Our job has us rotating between sea and land assignments and as we rotate and advance, we gain more responsibilities in the maritime community and also administrative tasks for NOAA," she shared.

The NOAA Corps Achievement Medal that was presented to LTjg Jarlenski yesterday is for her performance on board the Pisces.

When asked about her role on board the NOAA ship, LTgr Jarlenski said she wore a variety of hats. "Junior Officers have a variety of duties. I specifically dealt with government purchasing and government property accountability." In addition, she also served as the Medical Person In Charge (MPIC) and Navigation Officer on board, meaning she was responsible for maintaining the ship's navigation equipment.

The Pisces carries an estimated 22-32 people. There is a set number of crewmembers who are assigned to the ship but because the vessel transports scientists for research purposes, the exact number of people on board shifts.

Currently, LTjg Jarlenski serves as the Marine Operations Coordinator with the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Her job includes scheduling maintenance and repairs, as well as operations and diving aboard the RV Manuma, which fulfills various needs for the Sanctuary, including government and scientific purposes.

The Virginia native says she likes being in American Samoa.

"It's much different that what I'm used to but the weather is nice, the scenery is nice, and the people are nice. I enjoy outdoor activities and there's a lot to be had here in American Samoa," she concluded.