STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Rear Adm. John Okon, commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC), traveled to Australia earlier in March for an engagement and familiarization visit with the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) meteorology-oceanography (METOC) activities.
It was the first visit by the head of the U.S. Navy’s operational meteorology and oceanography command in more than 20 years.
“RAN/AGO and Fleet METOC are great friends. Our partnership is critical because we cannot, and should not, go it alone sensing, collecting data and predicting the physical battlespace. We must leverage each other’s capabilities to build a stronger partnership and maximize our combined resources,” Okon said.
Commodore Fiona Freeman, hydrographer of Australia and director-general Hydrography and METOC, offered the invitation after Royal Australian Navy and AGO visits to U.S. Naval Oceanography commands highlighted opportunities for further collaboration.
His four-day trip included visits to the Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO), Fleet Base East in Sydney, Australian Defence Headquarters in Canberra, AGO, and HMAS Cairns Naval Base.
Rear Adm. Okon was able to visit the lead ships of two classes of Australian oceanographic survey ships: HMAS Leeuwin (A245), lead ship of the Leeuwin class of deep ocean hydrographic survey vessels, and HMAS Paluma (A01) the lead ship of the Paluma class shallow coastal survey vessels. “These vessels are impressive and agile. The professionalism of the crews and the capability are world-class.”
Discussions focused on environmental data collection of the ocean bottom and within the water column that directly support submarine operations.
“It is clear that our respective navies and capabilities need to be not just interoperable but interchangeable. Commodore Freeman and I are committed to advancing this partnership to meet these goals,” Okon said.
Naval Oceanography has approximately 2,500 globally distributed military and civilian personnel, who collect, process and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to guarantee the U.S. Navy’s freedom of action in the physical battlespace from the depths of the ocean to the stars.