The world changed forever on 11 September 2001. Not since the War of 1812 has the U.S. mainland been attacked by foreign enemies.
Although the attacks were a horrific shock to all Americans, they served to accelerate the Navy's plans to deal with asymmetric threats. The service's ability to deter such attacks--and the shift in focus from open-ocean and deep-water operations to the world's littoral zones--has been in the forefront of Navy planning for years. And the need for coalitions of nations to combat elusive foes has never been greater.
The naval oceanography community has been in lockstep with this change. Hydrographic surveying efforts have been focused more on the coastal areas, shifting from the Cold War emphasis on the deep ocean. Military hydrographic survey teams have been formed to develop expertise in the officer corps as well as to increase survey capacity. A new oceanographic survey ship, USNS Mary Sears, is preparing to come on line and join seven others already forward-deployed in direct support of Navy missions. The community also continues to develop and refine numerical weather prediction models and increasingly higher resolution forecasting. In fact, one of the most sophisticated of those models, the Coupled Ocean-Air Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS), became available for use by the general public last year.
In the fight against weapons of mass destruction, the Naval Atlantic Meteorology and Oceanography Center at Norfolk, Va., supports the Department of Defense Joint Task Force for Civil Support, under the U.S. Joint Forces Command, with chemical and biological dispersion model predictions for the United States.
The Navy calls on its skilled forecasters to quickly produce precise forecasts of meteorological and oceanographic conditions, and to interpret the impact that environmental factors have on tactical operations and weapons systems. Navy forecasters serve on the forward-deployed ships and battle groups that have been fighting the war on terrorism. The need for producing forecasts quickly cannot be understated. Information superiority and battlespace dominance must be achieved early in any engagement, so the goal is to develop a rapid and optimized assessment of the battlespace environment--officially designated a Rapid Environmental Assessment, REA.
The Navy Oceanography community also supported the effort to raise the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru off the coast of Hawaii. Members of the community based at the Naval Oceanographic Office in Mississippi and at the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center, Pearl Harbor, pinpointed the wreck with USNS Sumner, an oceanographic survey ship, and provided high-resolution weather and ocean forecasts for the recovery effort.
The words of former Chief of Naval Operations retired Adm. James Watkins are as true today as they were in April 1984: "The impact of the ocean environment upon tactical and strategic forces and their operations and system performance must be understood and accounted for to most effectively employ our Navy."
In order to accomplish its many missions, the Navy heavily relies on all five of the "core competencies" under the purview of the Oceanographer of the Navy. They are:
Meteorology: The study of atmospheric conditions and their effects on surface and air operations, on weapon systems, and on electromagnetic and electro-optical sensors and systems.
Oceanography: The study of ocean characteristics (sea state parameters, dynamics, chemistry, biology, geophysics, and acoustics) and their influences on surface and underwater naval operations.
Geospatial Information and Services (GI&S): The basic reference framework for battlespace visualization. What it is, basically, is information produced by multiple sources using common interoperable data standards. It may be presented in the form of printed maps, charts, and publications; in digital databases; in photographic form; or in the form of digitized maps and charts or attributed centerline data. Geospatial services include tools that enable users to access, manipulate, and configure data, and also include instruction, training, laboratory support, and guidance for the use of geospatial data. The Navy oceanographic community's hydrographic survey efforts directly support GI&S.
Precise Time and Astrometry (PTA): Precise time invokes the process of establishing and maintaining the nation's precision time reference--the Master Clock, which uses resonating atoms to measure time to within a billionth of a second per day--and of disseminating time for both military and civil use (for example, the Global Positioning System). This includes time interval, the establishment of a standard for the precise duration of the second, which for application purposes must be constantly assessed and adjusted.
Astrometry is the science of precisely determining the position and motion of the sun, moon, stars, and planets for use in navigation and guidance systems. The U. S. Naval Observatory (reporting to the Oceanographer of the Navy) administers the programs in precise time and astrometry, publishes navigation almanacs, and determines earth orientation in space. These data are essential for precision navigation and targeting over land and sea, in the air, and in space.
Navigator of the Navy
Last year, the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vern Clark, directed that the Oceanographer of the Navy also be designated Navigator of the Navy. The CNO's decision was to have a single Navy point of contact for standards as it transitioned from paper chart navigation to digital GI&S.
Creating the new position sent a strong message to the fleet regarding the continuing requirement for accurate and timely navigation in a joint, cross-warfare area. The oceanography community was selected as the optimum venue for the new Navigator of the Navy mission because of the community's experience in hydrography, GI&S, and precise time, all of which are key elements in surface ship, submarine, air, and missile navigation.
Warfighters need to view operational activities in four dimensions (latitude, longitude, and depth/altitude, plus precise time) and the parameters of that operational space or cube will have to be digitally standardized, to meet future mission requirements.
The 4D Cube
A new concept called the 4D Cube has been developed that encompasses the complete and concise set of essential relevant elements of knowledge, information, and data. The 4D Cube has to be both scalable and relocatable, depending on the needs of the moment. It also has to be precisely defined for each application, and it would be knowledge-oriented.
The elements that make up the 4D Cube are the following:
It is located in an absolute geospatial and temporal frame of reference;
It is updated at the frequency and timeliness required;
It is shared;
It is measurable and descriptive; and
It is unique and unambiguous.
The 4D Cube gives everyone the same image of the operating cube in a common, universal format. As a consequence, all future military systems need to be designed within the 4D Cube.
The principal concerns addressed in the Oceanographer of the Navy's "Strategy for Research and Development" for operational oceanography, created in 2000, were important operational issues--asymmetric, time critical, littoral, resource-optimized, joint/combined operations, and knowledge superiority. The Navy oceanography community has been taking steps to address all of those concerns.
Encapsulated, the stated vision of operational oceanography is:
To ensure our capability to deliver optimal knowledge of the environment, for any naval operation or mission, anytime, anywhere.
Oceanography and other environmental sciences have been essential to naval operations since the Navy's earliest beginnings. In 1830, the Navy established a Depot of Charts and Instruments in Washington, D.C., to make systematic observations of the sun, moon, and stars so that the instruments used at sea to determine longitude and latitude could be calibrated using more accurate data than was then available in various star charts and almanacs.
The Navy's depot took on oceanographic studies and was renamed the U.S. Naval Observatory and Hydrographical Office in 1854. Its superintendent, Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury, had begun collecting critical oceanographic data in 1844--currents, tides, storms, sea temperatures, soundings, and sea creature and iceberg sightings.
Today, more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel assigned to Navy activities around the world work in various aspects of the Navy's multifaceted operational oceanography program. Those activities include two major supercomputer centers--one in Monterey, Calif., and one at the Stennis Space Center, Miss.--over 30 oceanography centers, facilities, and detachments as far away as Keflavik, Iceland, and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and aboard dozens of ships at sea.
Also in the Navy oceanography program are astronomers and support personnel at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., and at the observatory's stations in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Anderson Mesa, Ariz.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and in Cerro Tololo, Chile.
The co-location at the Stennis Space Center of the commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, the Naval Oceanographic Office (also known as NAVOCEANO), and two divisions of the Naval Research Laboratory creates the largest concentration of physical oceanographers anywhere in the world. The Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey is also co-located with the Meteorology Division of the Naval Research Laboratory.
The Oceanographer of the Navy is a principal official under the chief of naval operations. The Oceanographer's lower-echelon commands provide meteorological support for Navy and Coast Guard units, meteorological products to the U.S. Marine Corps, and oceanographic and precise time support to all elements of the Department of Defense.
The Chief of Naval Research (CNR) funds basic oceanographic and meteorological research and exploratory development. Applied research--the development of new sensors and tactical support systems--is funded both by the chief of naval research and the Oceanographer of the Navy and is conducted by Navy laboratories and Navy Systems Commands, and private sector contractors.
Operational support to ships, aircraft, and shore stations is provided by various activities under the direction of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. Direct support to staffs, ships, and commands afloat and ashore is provided by officer and enlisted meteorology and oceanography (METOC) personnel assigned to fleet units.
Shore activities of the naval oceanography community include the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, the Naval Oceanographic Office, the Naval Ice Center as part of the National Ice Center, six theater METOC centers (in Yokosuka, Japan; Pearl Harbor; San Diego; Norfolk; Rota, Spain; and Bahrain); four facilities (Naples, Italy; Jacksonville, Fla.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Whidbey Island, Wash.); 39 detachments, and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor.
There is a Navy METOC office at every Navy asset--ship and shore--that conducts any kind of air operation. A Navy forecaster provides a weather report for every Navy flight evolution.
There are approximately 420 oceanography officers, 1,400 enlisted personnel in the Aerographer's Mates rating, and over 1,400 civilian personnel in the naval oceanography community. These men and women provide a wide range of services to the modern fleet and support the fleet from a variety of platforms. Their expertise includes area weather forecasting, aviation flight forecasting, amphibious assault beach forecasts, environmental support for mine warfare, electromagnetic forecasts for radar performance, ocean acoustics forecasting (for concealing and hunting submarines), electro-optic forecasts for visible and infrared detection systems, and specialized forecasts for specific weapon systems and special operations warfare. In short, they help the warfighter in taking tactical advantage of the environment.
The six regional centers coordinate environmental services over the entire world--weather forecasts and optimum routing services for ships at sea, and customized services to nearby type commanders (air, surface, submarine, and special operations) and shore activities. There are oceanographic detachments at all naval air stations and a number of other shore commands.
METOC personnel are also assigned as permanent crewmembers on aircraft carriers, selected amphibious assault ships, and staff command and control ships. As part of mobile deployment teams, they embark on smaller ships for specialized missions, and support a wide variety of shore-based exercises and operations.
The Oceanographic Fleet
To enhance the Oceanographer's ability to work effectively in the first decades of the new millennium, the Navy is transitioning to a "modernized" Navy survey and research fleet; that transition is now almost complete. The new oceanographic survey ships allow Navy oceanographers to deploy anywhere--in any ocean, at any time--to more efficiently collect the enormous amount of precise data needed to generate products to meet the U.S. Navy's high technology warfare needs.
Similarly, research vessels operated by academic research institutions, but built with Navy money, have been upgraded or newly constructed to conduct multipurpose, multidisciplinary scientific investigations with the most sophisticated equipment available.
Two coastal survey ships (T-AGSs), USNS McDonnell and USNS Littlehales, have been operational since 1991. Each is 208 feet long and displaces 2,000 tons. Five multipurpose military oceanographic survey ships (of the T-AGS 60 class) are deployed globally: USNS Pathfinder, USNS Sumner, USNS Bowditch, USNS Henson, and USNS Bruce C. Heezen. Each is 328 feet long and displaces 4,700 tons. A sixth ship of the class, USNS Mary Sears, was launched in October 2000 and will be on line this year.
A parallel modernization program for Navy-built research ships is also near- ing completion. In addition to the five AGORs, built for the Navy and operated by the academic community, a new research ship, Kilo Moana, to be operated by the University of Hawaii, will employ the unconventional SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) design. Lockheed Martin's Atlantic Marine shipyard in Jacksonville, Fla., is the builder of the ship, which was launched in November. Delivery is expected in 2002.
Training and education are emphasized throughout the naval oceanography community. All METOC officers are required to earn a master's degree in air/ocean science, most of them at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. A two-year master's degree program in oceanography sponsored by the Secretary of the Navy also enrolls one student per year in the curriculum administered jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Although Navy oceanography is a relatively small community, approximately 25 percent of all doctoral jobs in the Navy are filled by METOC officers.
The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command instituted the Masters of Hydrography in partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi. The program, which couples state-of-the-art academic and operational resources, will create a core of highly trained personnel, enabling the METOC community to stay at the forefront of new technology and initiatives in hydrography.
In a parallel effort, the Naval Oceanographic Office has established Fleet Survey Teams, each consisting of three officers and two to four civilians, to fill a need for fast charting in areas where the Navy has or will have a significant presence, or where accuracy of current charts is questionable. The teams serve as a force multiplier for hydrographic surveying. Since their establishment a year ago, the teams have surveyed Gaeta Bay, Italy, Apra Harbor, Guam, and the waters off Ingleside, Texas, to meet operational Navy fleet requirements.
The Navy's enlisted oceanography personnel (in the Aerographer's Mate or AG rating) receive initial training at the AG "A" school, taught at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. This 14-week school introduces new personnel to the basics of meteorology and oceanography; the tools and equipment used in environmental measurements and analyses; environmental codes, graphs, and charts; weather observation procedures; and some rudimentary forecasting skills.
After a minimum of one tour of operational duty, enlisted oceanography personnel are sent to the AG "C" forecasting school, a 32-week school that provides intensive training in physics and atmospheric dynamics, forecasting skills, and tactical factors. Graduates become certified weather forecasters. Follow-on fleet-level training--such as the Joint METOC Tactical Applications Course and the Tactical Oceanographic Workshop--allow AGs to further hone their skills and keep up with the latest techniques and technological advances.
The foundation of the Navy's weather forecasting effort is the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. The center runs high-resolution global and regional atmospheric and coupled oceanographic analysis and forecast models on its state-of-the-art supercomputer center and distributes them to the Navy's weather network.
"Fleet Numerical" receives global environmental data through links with Department of Defense and/or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data-distribution systems. Numerically generated products are distributed on Navy and joint command-and-control systems via the Navy theater meteorology and oceanography centers. These centers then develop value-added products and services tailored to specific military operations in their areas of responsibility.
In addition to its standard product suite, Fleet Numerical is uniquely capable, working in support of global military and humanitarian contingencies, of providing high-resolution forecast products on short notice for any region in the world. The Fleet Numerical supercomputer center also serves as a backup for NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), which generates CONUS numerical weather prediction products for the National Weather Service. In 1999, following a fire in its computer center, Fleet Numerical ran weather prediction models for NCEP.
The Naval Oceanographic Office is responsible for collecting, processing, and distributing oceanographic, hydrographic, and other geophysical models, data, and products. It also processes NOAA polar-orbiting satellite data and has been designated a National Center of Expertise for sea-surface temperature measurements.
The Naval Oceanographic Office, which boasts one of the world's most powerful supercomputer centers, uses its supercomputing power for the oceanography side of the house. Moreover, because it is both an operational data-processing center and a DOD Major Shared Resource Center, research and development programs using the large array (with more than a teraflop of computing power) of Cray and Silicon Graphics supercomputers can be easily adapted to run Navy operational METOC models.
The Naval Oceanographic Office's Warfighting Support Center (WSC) provides near-real-time tailored oceanographic products to support military operations. Those products include global ocean-front and eddy analyses, preprocessed multichannel sea-surface temperature (MCSST) analyses (from polar-orbiting satellites), satellite altimetry and scatterometry data, high-resolution ocean model output, data and imagery from intelligence satellites, and support data for Special Operations Forces.
In addition to the MCSST model, the Naval Oceanographic Office also runs a wave model known as WAM. WAM generates a gridded field that supplies wave heights, periods, and direction for forecasts up to 48 hours.
The latest development in ocean acoustic forecasting is the Modular Ocean Data Assimilation System (MODAS). This modular toolkit can acquire and merge various types of information (including climatology and remotely sensed satellite data) to provide highly accurate temperature and salinity forecasts, as well as ocean currents and tides. A modified design has recently been released to the submarine force.
Tailored ice forecasts and analyses are provided to a multitude of customers by the National Ice Center, located in Suitland, Md., and jointly operated by Navy, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Ice Center provides sea and lake ice analyses, as well as forecasts, for the Arctic and Antarctic regions, U.S. coastal waters, and the Great Lakes.
The Meteorology and Oceanography Command's six theater METOC centers provide a broad range of services within their various areas of responsibility. These centers manage and prioritize the dissemination of basic numerical forecasts, provide full-spectrum meteorological and oceanographic services, and generate tailored forecasts to support theater and other special requirements. Routinely prepared reports include high winds and seas warnings, area and local forecasts, en route ship weather forecasts, routing services, tactical forecasts, and ship track routing recommendations.
The center in Pearl Harbor and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) with the U.S. Air Force issue tropical cyclone warnings to DOD and other U.S. commands and agencies in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as for the Eastern and Central South Pacific.
The Navy's permanent meteorology and oceanography assets afloat are the Operational Aerography, or OA, Divisions embarked aboard major aviation-capable combatants and command ships. They interpret weather and ocean conditions to ensure optimum use of weapons and sensors and operational safety, and provide tailored on-scene products and services to the assigned task force/group and allied units in Navy, joint, or coalition military and humanitarian operations.
Permanently embarked Navy personnel or deployable assets--Mobile Environmental Teams or METs--are the primary sources of on-scene Navy meteorological and oceanographic support for forces both afloat and ashore in-theater.
The Mobile Environmental Teams, the Navy's principal deployable METOC assets, provide short-term, on-scene services to units and activities that lack permanent METOC personnel in OA Divisions.
The METs are assigned their own portable sensing, processing, and display equipment and have the ability to set up a Navy Automated Weather Station at remote sites to provide direct readout and/or transmission of the data via satellite. They also deploy with portable systems that enable them to carry out a variety of assignments: receive, display, and manipulate geostationary meteorological satellite imagery; acquire and display the latest gridded data fields available from Fleet Numerical's numerical model analyses and forecasts; and receive enhanced ocean satellite imagery from the Warfighting Support Center.
Teams routinely deploy to ship and shore sites with self-contained satellite and communications receivers and software suites they can use for acoustic, electromagnetic, and weather forecasts based on in-situ environmental measurements.
Cooperative Programs With Other Nations
The Navy maintains a robust program to leverage the meteorology and oceanography activities of other civil agencies and to participate in international initiatives. These include leadership in the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, which integrates ocean research and education efforts through federal, academic, and industry partnerships; participation in the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System, the converged NOAA-DOD-NASA operational satellite system; and close liaison with: (a) the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government on issues of ocean science, engineering, and policy; and (b) the International Hydrographic Organization, established to support both safety in navigation and the protection of the marine environment.
The Naval oceanography community is also cooperating with the President's Commission on Ocean Policy, established by Congress and organized in 2001 to examine and make recommendations on all aspects of the ocean. NOAA emerged from the last such commission in the 1960s. Oceanographer of the Navy Rear Adm. Richard D. West co-chairs the Defense Department Task Force on the commission with Rear Adm. Michael F. Lohr, the DOD Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs.
The Oceanographer of the Navy is also the Naval Deputy to NOAA, reflecting the close working relationship between the two agencies. The Navy also works closely with the U.S. Air Force through the NAVAF-21 Charter to ensure DOD needs for operational METOC support are met effectively and efficiently. The key partnerships among these agencies include the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor (Navy/Air Force) and the National Ice Center headquartered in Washington, D.C. (Navy/NOAA/Coast Guard).
The Navy's METOC partners are not limited to government and educational institutions. In the past year the Oceanographer of the Navy and The Weather Channel formalized an agreement that will foster cooperation between the two organizations and allow them to jointly examine new methods and technologies for producing and presenting forecasts.
The Navy has cooperative agreements in place for collecting survey data with nearly 30 countries. These programs are cost-effective ways to leverage allied efforts to meet U.S. requirements for data in littoral regions. The Hydrographic Cooperation Program (HYCOOP) focuses on hydrographic data collection for the production of nautical charts and related products; the Oceanographic Cooperation Program (OCOOP) focuses on oceanographic data collection to satisfy mutual mine warfare or antisubmarine warfare requirements. Under both programs, the partner nation provides the survey platform and some equipment and operating personnel; the U.S. Navy contributes technical expertise and specialized equipment for cooperative use during the surveys.
Just as changes in world politics are driving increased opportunities for cooperative oceanographic agreements and survey access, technological evolution is driving changes in the requirements for data obtained through these agreements. A significant example of this evolution is the requirement for digital nautical data to be used in electronic charting navigation systems. The naval oceanography community is keeping pace with technology by incorporating requirements for digital data within new cooperative oceanographic agreements.
The Navy's operational oceanography program, a critical component of U.S. national security, continues its primary focus on support to the warfighter. Its cadre of well-educated and dedicated professionals are deployed worldwide, and METOC personnel are intimately involved in all aspects of the Navy's operational planning and execution. The community's dynamic emphasis on research and development ensures that future operational capabilities will meet the challenges of modern precision warfare. And its proactive involvement in international and interagency programs securely makes it a preeminent world leader in the field of ocean sciences.
Even though the world has changed, the naval oceanography community has been and continues to be positioned to meet the challenges of the dangerous new world to keep Sailors and Marines both safe and effective by providing the critical "knowledge of the battlespace" essential for combat success in naval and military operations. *