This paper describes the techniques used to obtain sea surface temperature (SST) retrievals from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 12 (GOES-12) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Satellite Data Processing and Distribution. Previous SST retrieval techniques relying on channels at 11 and 12 μm are not applicable because GOES-12 lacks the latter channel. Cloud detection is performed using a Bayesian method exploiting fast-forward modeling of prior clear-sky radiances using numerical weather predictions. The basic retrieval algorithm used at nighttime is based on a linear combination of brightness temperatures at 3.9 and 11 μm. In comparison with traditional split window SSTs (using 11- and 12-μm channels), simulations show that this combination has maximum scatter when observing drier colder scenes, with a comparable overall performance. For daytime retrieval, the same algorithm is applied after estimating and removing the contribution to brightness temperature in the 3.9-μm channel from solar irradiance. The correction is based on radiative transfer simulations and comprises a parameterization for atmospheric scattering and a calculation of ocean surface reflected radiance. Potential use of the 13-μm channel for SST is shown in a simulation study: in conjunction with the 3.9-μm channel, it can reduce the retrieval error by 30%. Some validation results are shown while a companion paper by Maturi et al. shows a detailed analysis of the validation results for the operational algorithms described in this present article.