US Navy launches ocean research task force

Illustration: A US Navy submarine surfaces through the ice in the Arctic Circle during the latest ICEX research exercise. Photo: US Navy

The U.S. Navy is establishing a task force that will focus solely on ocean science, the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy announced on March 24.

Named Task Force Ocean, the unit is part of an effort to further assess the state of ocean science in the Navy, which encompasses its oceanographic infrastructure, technologies, technical workforce and how they are applied to naval operations.

“Cutting edge ocean science underpins the safety and effectiveness of the Navy’s operating forces,” said Oceanographer of the Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet. “One of the main drivers that launched Task Force Ocean is the need to advance ocean science that directly helps the U.S. Navy maintain its competitive advantage in the undersea domain.”

Gallaudet and Chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. David Hahn will co-chair an executive steering committee for Task Force Ocean comprised of senior leadership representatives from U.S. Fleet Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Naval Post Graduate School. The executive steering committee will develop a five-year ocean science roadmap designed to advance ocean science that supports the Navy’s mission.

The roadmap will focus on the Navy’s capability to observe the ocean environment, process the collected data into products that can be used by operational commanders, and further strengthen the Navy’s ocean science technical workforce.

“Through the implementation of the roadmap, our priority is to reinvigorate and reconstitute our technical workforce,” said Gallaudet. “We’ll be looking at everything from oceanographic survey ships, unmanned vehicles, ocean and acoustic modelling, and how we apply our products to recruiting, educating, developing and retaining our workforce.”

“It’s hard to believe that in this globally interconnected information age, only five percent of volume of the world’s oceans have been explored and only 20 percent of the world’s sea floor has been mapped to modern standards. So there’s a lot that we don’t know. We need to better understand the oceans because that’s where the Navy operates,” said Gallaudet.

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