A few weeks back I visited the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NMOC is responsible for providing critical environmental information to our naval and joint operating forces. Although the meteorology and oceanography programs are probably the most well-known, Naval Oceanography also includes the study and practice of Bathymetry, Hydrography, Geophysics, and Astrometry & precise time. I had the opportunity to visit several of the NMOC departments and received thorough overviews of their missions and how they tie into every day operations across our Navy and the DoD.
Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) Expeditionary and Special Warfare Support Group
My visit started off with a tour of the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) Expeditionary and Special Warfare Support Group where I observed how our analysts exploit a wide variety of Navy and National sensors and data to provide tailored, fused information to support operations. The discussions and demonstrations were very technical (just how I like it!) and included: techniques to process satellite imagery to derive bathymetry and identify surf zone hazards to navigation; specialized software to display model output with satellite image overlay to identify safe lanes of ingress/egress and potential mission windows for operations; demonstration of stereo imagery analysis of littoral and riverine environments; demonstration of River Drifter data and analysis; and multi-scale analysis of Navy oceanographic models to identify seasonal monsoonal effects that have direct impact on coastal and nearshore currents and operations.
Naval Oceanography ASW Center (NOAC)
My next visit was with the NOAC’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Reach Back Cell (ASW RBC) where the NOAC-NAVO team walked with me through the watch stations and described how their work supports real-world ASW operations and prosecutions. The NAVO Oceanographers on duty gave me a great demonstration of how satellite and local oceanographic observations are used as inputs to the oceanographic prediction systems. They also demonstrated how they build tactical assessment products for Fleet users. While in the NOAC, I also met with the Naval Oceanographic ASW Team (NOAT) members assigned to deploy with COMDESRON TWO EIGHT (EISENHOWER Strike Group). The team showed me how they use the NITES IV portable computer system and all the remote expertise from the ASW Reachback Cell to support the Strike Group ASW Commander (SGASWC) afloat. While I was impressed by the entire NAOC team, I want to specifically recognize the ingenuity of AG1 Bryan Sebring who created a set of automation tools that dramatically speeds up building RBC analysis briefs that are sent to Fleet operators. His set of tools reduces a two-hour build process down to a few minutes; a significant savings in manpower and elimination of repetitive labor.
NAVOCEANO Navigation Department
After the NOAC, I visited the NAVOCEANO Navigation Department where I met with the Navy surveyors and analysts who collect and process the bottom survey data that updates maritime charts for the Navy and DOD. I was given a very thorough, end-to-end review of the survey processes and the ships and technologies used in survey operations. During this visit I met with LTJG Dan Beals of the Fleet Survey Team (FST) who showed me a beach landing product he and his team had recently completed for a future exercise in Saudi Arabia.
Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center (NOMWC)
My final visit of the day was to the NOMWC Data Fusion Cell (DFC). The DFC conducts post-mission analysis and change-detection on acoustic data collected by mine countermeasures forces. This group fuses data from all the various MCM sensor systems to extract tactical and environmental information. They can compare new sensor data to previously collected data which allows them to better identify possible threat objects on the bottom. This, in turn, provides the mine countermeasures commander a fused contact picture that greatly aids in reducing overall clearance timelines. As you can imagine, the work they do is particularly important to our ability to operate in potentially hostile waters around the world. Overall, I found my visit to be extremely useful and full of details on how NMOC executes their missions and supports our Sailors every day. I was very impressed with the quality and intelligence of the Sailors and Civilians working at NMOC. This command is not a real large group, but they have a tremendous impact on just about every mission we execute today. Thanks again to the staff at NMOC for taking the time to show me how you get it done for the Fleet!
All the best, JCHjr