Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 15 Issue 01

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Volume 15, No. 1
Pages 4 - 12


Overview of Operational Ocean Forecasting in the U.S. Navy: Past, Present & Future

By William Burnett , John Harding , and George Heburn  
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“The future ain’t what it used to be.” Famous words from philosopher and National Baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra. While his words are applicable in describing most situations, they are particularly relevant to this topic—future operational ocean forecasting in the U.S. Navy. To appreciate Berra’s quote in this context, it is important to understand that operational oceanographic forecasting is a compromise between the scientifically possible and the operationally necessary and practical. Research and Development (R&D) advances provide the push of higher resolution and more sophisticated, physics-based, numerical models and prediction techniques. Meanwhile, the operational pull for accurate, rapid, and long-range, oceanographic products, based firmly on sound Navy requirements, is constrained by the personnel, communications capabilities, and computational resources available to accomplish the mission. This tension between R&D and operations likewise arises in the transitions of ocean observation systems, ocean products, and visualization systems. Numerous factors such as mission changes or technological breakthroughs can impact R&D programs and operational plans over time. Note that predictions made 10 years ago (Peloquin, 1992), regarding future operational ocean forecasts, could not anticipate the breadth of today’s web connectivity and distributed computing.


Burnett, W., J. Harding, and G. Heburn. Overview of operational ocean forecasting in the U.S. Navy: Past, present & future. 2002. Oceanography 15(1):4–12, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2002.31.

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