Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 27 Issue 03

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Volume 27, No. 3
Pages 24 - 31


Overview of Operational Ocean Forecasting in the US Navy: Past, Present, and Future

William Burnett Scott Harper Ruth PrellerGregg Jacobs Kevin LaCroix
First Paragraph

A popular cigarette advertisement from the 1960s exclaimed, "You've come a long way, Baby!" That sentiment could be applied to Naval Oceanography. The US Navy has navigated the course of developing prediction technology over many fundamental shifts in global geopolitics while addressing the evolving challenges at the forefront of the oceanography mission to ensure the safety of the nation's armed forces. Originally motivated by Soviet-era submarine programs, accurate acoustic prediction necessitated forecasting the positions of ocean fronts and eddies. Since then, the scope of Naval Oceanography has expanded to encompass a littoral focus, including applications that assist Navy SEa Air and Land (SEAL) teams, amphibious vehicle landings, and mine warfare. The fundamental physics governing the universe remains unchanged and so has the Navy's need to understand ocean physics, build numerical representations, connect to data streams, and assimilate observations in order to provide forecasts addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow. A well-planned course is no accident, and the Navy's leading edge in ocean prediction is the result. This paper provides a description of the path to this leading edge, a synthesis of the current operational architecture that enables Naval Oceanography, an analysis of the triumphs of the last 10 years that are part of today's oceanography portfolio, and a prediction of what the next 10 years holds for Naval Oceanography.


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