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NASSG Oceanographers Guide Ships Through the Storm

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071215-06
Release Date: 12/15/2007 9:57:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/SW) Leslie L. Tomaino, Nassau Strike Group Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- As the ships of the Nassau Strike Group (NASSG) prepare for deployment, they rely heavily on the expertise of its Strike Group Oceanography Team (SGOT) to help guide them through and around the various weather patterns that could be encountered.

While expressions like, "Red skies at night, Sailors delight. Red skies at morning, Sailors take warning," may have been sufficient for the ancient mariner, today's Navy requires highly skilled professionals able to read maps, graphs and decipher historical data to formulate educated conclusions on the actions of weather patterns and their potential effects on operations.

"We cannot use '' for tactical operations; does not predict weather for the ocean," explained Aerographer's Mate 1st Class (AW) Victor Gonzalez, leading petty officer for the SGOT attached to the amphibious assault landing ship USS Nassau (LHA 4). "Weather conditions are needed for the coast as well as the ocean. Where we really come into play is in the middle of the ocean or in transit."

The NASSG SGOT consists of a combination of the USS Nassau Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC) team, Navy Aerographers from the Navy's Meteorology and Oceanography Center, two Marine Corps aerographers from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU), and a technician who all work together to deliver accurate information. The SGOT also provides tactical decision aides that outline how specific sensors and weapons will perform during current conditions. Using a plethora of tools, technical systems and even basic weather balloons, the SGOT provides a wide variety of information that allow leaders to make decisions generated by weather concerns.

"The general forecast is the most recognized product we put out, and is often mistaken for the only product," said Lt. Jeremy Callahan, SGOT METOC officer. "The Impacts Forecast is the second most popular that is used by both planners and operators. Commonly called a 'Stoplight Chart,' it outlines the level of impact environmental conditions have on different operations such as Landing Craft Units (LCU) operations, rotor wing operations, and replenishment-at-sea just to name a few."

Because weather is one of the various factors that can affect a weapon's performance, Aerographers also train to how weather affects a weapon's performance in order to provide guidance in various situations.

"The knowledge that a weapon will be impacted by current conditions, or that certain areas are conducive or detrimental to sensors will help mission planners put the right asset, in the right location, at the right time," said Callahan.

The NASSG is made up of the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4); amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13); amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48); guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58); guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); the attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753); and a Marine Landing Force from the 24th MEU.

Currently preparing for its regularly scheduled 2008 deployment, the NASSG is made up of more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, and projects sea power ashore by maintaining the capability of landing amphibious forces by helicopters, amphibious track vehicles, air cushion landing craft, and assault craft whenever and wherever the need arises.

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