NOAA official tours RI facilities in hopes of expanding

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NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) paid a visit to Newport Friday to discuss ways that the federal agency might expand it’s footprint in Rhode Island.

Senator Jack Reed and acting head of NOAA, Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet (Ret.), toured Rhode Island facilities Friday with talk of future plans to expand.

Since the fiscal year of 2016, Reed has helped provide more than $4 million to assist NOAA plan a new facility at a Naval Station Newport.

The upgrades to the facility would help support the home ported ship Henry Bigelow.

“The Bigelow is one of the NOAA ships. It does surveys, it helps our economy,” Reed said.

With the Bigelow, Coast Guard, Navy and the University of Rhode Island School of Oceanography dotting the coastline, Reed said that Narragansett Bay is a great spot for a new facility.

“We have many, many resources and assets so this is an ideal location and I hope they consider it,” Reed said.

As the acting head of NOAA, Gallaudet was previously an oceanographer of the Navy, meaning he has experience in weather, the ocean and the impacts of climate change.

He said he is enjoying Rhode Island so far, but Friday’s tour will be involve some serious study.

“What I’m here to do is look at the capabilities of the Naval Station, and make an assessment on what we might want to move forward with in respect to either realigning or relocating facilities here, and also other ships in the NOAA fleet,” Gallaudet said.

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