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Meet the Photographer - Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, NOAA (Retired) Banner

Picture of Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, NOAA (retired)

Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, NOAA (Retired), was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1924. He began his Government career in 1941 as WS 1, laborer in an Army warehouse. At the age of 17 he enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve and was assigned to the wartime Navy College Training Program as an Apprentice Seaman.

He received his commission as an Ensign USNR and the B. S. degree from the University of Washington in 1945. His last active duty tour was as Damage Control Officer on the target destroyer USS HUGHES at Bikini, during the Atom Bomb tests of 1946. He returned to the University of Washington and served for a year in the Submarine Battalion of the Organized Reserve while earning a B. S. M. E. degree.

In September 1947 he joined the U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey as a Deck Officer, and was commissioned as Ensign USC&GS in 1948. During his career Admiral Nygren served aboard numerous ships, but in particular the Survey Ships EXPLORER, PATHFINDER, PIONEER, SURVEYOR AND HODGSON, in various capacities, including Oceanographer and Commanding Officer. He was also assigned to field parties conducting Hydrographic, Geodetic and Gravity studies. This included three years of assignment to the United States Arctic regions. At one time he was the Chief of a Geodetic Party assigned to the US Air Force Missile Test Center at Patrick AFB, Florida.

Admiral Nygren was United States representative on the British Antarctic Survey Expedition in 1962, and was a member of the U. S. Inspection Team to Antarctica in 1970. Twice a temporary Captain, Admiral Nygren was promoted in 1968 to the permanent rank of Captain, then to the temporary rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half) in conjunction with his appointment as Associate Administrator of the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA).

When NOAA was created he was promoted to the permanent rank of Rear Admiral (Upper Half) and was chosen as the first Director of the new NOAA Corps. He served for ten years in this position, through two Administrations, and retired in 1981 with 36+ years active service and 38+ years of total service.

Admiral Nygren received commendations from the US Navy and the US Air Force. In 1961 he received the Karo Award of the Society of American Military Engineers and a Unit Citation. He was awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Medal and the Department Bronze Medal. Admiral Nygren served on a number of panels of the original Interagency Committee on Oceanography and the Marine Council. He was a founding member of the Advisory Committee on Undersea Features of the Board on Geographic Names. He served many years on the Committee on the Delimitation of the US Coastline, as well as numerous other committees, panels and Task Forces. He is a Life Fellow of The American Society of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers, a Fellow of the Marine Technology Society, an Emeritus Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, and a Golden Life Member of the U. S. Naval Institute. He is a registered Professional Engineer (inactive) and a Certified Hydrographer . He has a Certificate of Achievement in Oceanic Education from the University of Virginia. He is a past member of The Board of Directors of the Retired Officers Association, an active member of the Board of the National Association for Uniformed Services, and a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of the NOAA Library, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting the NOAA Library.

A canyon on the U. S. Continental Shelf and mountain in Antarctica were named after him. Admiral Nygren resides in Vienna, Virginia with his wife Janice. Four sons are involved in marine related activities. Three stepchildren reside in Northern Virginia.

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