Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I would like to express my appreciation and congratulations to Captain Nicholas Perugini of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, Commissioned Corps on the occasion of his retirement. For more than 26 years, Captain Perugini has dedicated himself to the protection of our Nation's oceans and maritime commerce through his exemplary work in NOAA's charting program. He has served aboard three hydrographic survey vessels and a shore-based field party. As commanding officer of the NOAA ship Rude, Nick was in charge of the survey investigation into the grounding of the Queen Elizabeth 2. He was also a member of NOAA teams that assisted in the recovery of the TWA flight 800 and John F. Kennedy Jr. crash sites which occurred off the East Coast of the United States. Captain Perugini's commitment and leadership during these sensitive projects are an example of public service at its best. Nick consistently put aside ego and personal glory to do what is best for the Nation.
Captain Perugini now concludes his career as chief of NOAA's Marine Chart Division. A direct result of his tenure as chief was a significant advancement in the longstanding partnership between NOAA and the Coast Guard concerning safety of navigation issues. His vision and leadership led to the advances of new technologies, moving paper charting to the electronic world. Today, mariners know their location, in real time, on an electronic navigation system. This advance was not possible in the paper chart world.
With his guidance, NOAA and the Coast Guard entered into a Memorandum of Agreement, which pooled agency resources and greatly accelerated the production of Electronic Navigational Charts, ENC. He made the ENC data available to the public free, via the internet. This relationship not only saved tax dollars, but the improved navigational tools have greatly increased the safety of navigation. Captain Perugini's work has resulted in a significant reduction in marine accidents, which has saved lives, property, and our environment from degradation.
From July 1998 to August 1999, I was pleased to have Nick as a member of my congressional staff as a legislative fellow. His amazing work ethic, interpersonal skills, commitment to the job, knowledge of maritime issues, and gracious humility made him an integral part of my office. I want to thank him for his work and commitment to our Nation.
I congratulate Captain Nicholas Perugini on his exemplary career and wish him, his wife Lisa, their daughter Katie, and their son Nicholas my best. Through his tireless efforts, he has made a difference and has helped to protect the marine environment and promote safe maritime commerce that is vital to our Nation's prosperity.