Coast Survey spotlight: Meet John Doroba


Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


John Doroba, physical scientist

“Once I saw the mission I was hooked. It was the best job a recent graduate who loved being in the field could ask for, especially when you get to travel all around the country. Where else could I practice my love for science, utilize my education, solve real world problems that serve a purpose, and directly impact people in a positive way?”

John aboard the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada as they perform autonomous underwater vehicle operations near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
John aboard the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada as they perform autonomous underwater vehicle operations near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

What is your job title, and how long have you worked for Coast Survey?

I am a physical scientist, and I have worked for Coast Survey for 10 years.

What were your experiences prior to working for Coast Survey?

I’ve worked at Coast Survey my entire career since January 2007 except for a brief stopover in dredging and beach replenishment. I worked for our navigation response teams (NRTs), Marine Chart Division, and aboard all of our hydrographic ships and some others before trying my hand at dredging. Upon returning to NOAA, I continued to work on the ships until I landed in my current position at the Hydrographic Systems and Technology Branch. Most of my experience prior to Coast Survey comes from my time at the University of Delaware where I had two independent studies – benthic mapping of Delaware Bay and geomorphology of treefalls -and spent time on the R/V Hugh R. Sharp performing hydrographic surveys and related operations.

Why is this work important?

The people in the field are the most critical part of the Coast Survey mission. They do the surveying, respond to emergencies, search for obstructions, and collect the data for updating charts. I support them by acting as a liaison for heavily used acquisition and processing software for hydrographic surveying. It can be stressful, but failures on my part become a burden to them so I do my best to support the mission by not failing the people doing the dirty work.

What drew you to this work?

I was drawn to this work randomly. I applied for jobs before I graduated college and NOAA offered me a job with the NRTs. Once I saw the mission I was hooked. It was the best job a recent graduate who loved being in the field could ask for, especially when you get to travel all around the country. Where else could I practice my love for science, utilize my education, solve real world problems that serve a purpose, and directly impact people in a positive way?

What aspects of your job are most exciting or rewarding to you?

Doing something for others is the best reason to do something. The most rewarding part of the job is helping people. The professional apex of that was the 2017 hurricane response in Puerto Rico. To be down there surveying ports so that food, water, medical supplies, and everyday items can get to people who need them most is incredibly gratifying. It wasn’t necessarily fun, but it was a once in a lifetime experience. I’m thankful to work for an organization that provides these emergency services and allows me to be in a position to help.

What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in your field?

I would say showing interest and being willing to do things that other people aren’t necessarily willing to do is the most important thing for someone pursuing a career in hydrographic surveying. I’ve worked with some incredibly smart people and some not so smart people (myself included), but the one thing about our niche industry is that it is not easy. No matter your intelligence, you have to be able to do things other people don’t want to do. It means sleeping on a roller coaster. It means sacrificing time with friends and family. It means odd schedules. It means you can take pride in that deprivation and endure because the satisfaction that comes from struggle is not easily found. The majority of people don’t realize the effort required to get them the things they use in their everyday lives. And that’s okay because you do.

1 Reply to “Coast Survey spotlight: Meet John Doroba”

  1. I’m retired from the US Coast Guard, 20 years of service and can say I loved it!!! Until my last tour of duty in Baltimore sitting at a desk doing supply data entry info into a computer for 2 years that’s when I decided to retire.
    Before that I was on 3 of the USCG’s 378’ WHEC, and stationed at two Small Boat Stations doing SAR (search and rescue) and LE (law enforcement) and that’s what I loved doing for 18 years of my service!
    I would love the chance to get out on the water ways again. My Rate in the Coast Guard was an MK (Machinery Technician) …. I know it should be MT but I didn’t make the rules.
    If there was anyway you could use a Chlordiazepoxide Retired Veteran that has the experience of being out at sea I’d work for free….ok, almost free.
    Seriously contact me if you ever need help, I miss being out there. I’ve been in the very rough waters of the Bearing Sea, Sailed to the Persian golf via around the southern tip of Africa from Guam, from Perth around to Sydney Australia, and many other parts of the world on the USCGC’s Morgenthau 722, Rush 723, and the Chase. My experience on at the Small Boat Stations included the USCG’s 47’ MLB the first prototype on the east coast at Station Cape Hatterases, NC it is a 47 foot selfritintg surf boat, it’s Max capabilities when first introduced to us Was 20’ Breakers, 30’ seas, and 50 knot winds so they predicted. Needless to say we were chose to see if this was correct in real life situations.
    I’m telling you this so you will know I’m no stranger to trying new technology for the first time. I was part of a team that set the SOP for this vessel, and SOP for the smaller utility CG Safeboat, we called (The Floating Dumpster) an orange ridged hull with which looked like an upside down dumpster on it . This vessel replaced our olé faithful 41 UTB, Great platform! The Safeboat horrible platform for any type of SAR, Towing, or Helo Opps. Only good for Port Security by mounting a 270 sub machine gun on the front and go fast? Coast Guard got ripped off on this one!! Terrible trade off for the 41’ UTB, if you ever see one out for sale grab it perfect working platform metal hull fiberglass cabin powered by two Cummins 903s. We operated it with 4 man crew and would hold 10 survivors. I’m rambling and the comment I’m sending is just my opinion not the Coast Guards. I loved being underway in this under appriciated branch of our government while under the Department of Transportation, and now Homeland Security. if you want help contact me.

    I tried Facebook didn’t understand the etiquette so I don’t tweet, twit, or any other computer fornication .
    I’m not a computer person so if serious call me or text me. Texting is as far as I go when it comes to typing electronically to communicate with a human especially while I still have a mouth and ears.
    And yes I know I have an email address but that’s because they make me have to have one if I want to get my retirement but I don’t read my email but about once a year because I have to spend a day deleting stuff. But I will look at it a couple of times the next couple of weeks to see if you responded. If you don’t God speed and please be safe out there!!!
    240 538-8438

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *