June 2, 2016 - Members of the naval oceanography community and relatives of the "Father of Modern Oceanography" peered into the future of ocean surveying while paying homage to their history during a partnership celebration held alongside USNS Maury (T-AGS 66) in Pascagoula, Mississippi May 31.
The event, hosted by VT Halter Marine, celebrated the newest ship of the multi-mission Pathfinder (T-AGS 60) class, as well as their long partnership with naval oceanography. The Pathfinder ships, constructed by VT Halter for the Navy, conduct hydrographic, acoustic, oceanographic, and bathymetric survey operations worldwide. Data and information collected by the ships are used to develop products and services that aid in defense mission planning and safe navigation.
Maury was delivered to the Navy in February.
"Maury will enable Navy and Marine Corps to remain and maintain a competitive advantage against all enemies," said Oceanographer of the Navy and Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC) Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet.
Maury, the most technologically advanced of the Navy's survey ships, is equipped with a moon pool to launch and recover unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) that can provide persistent sensing of the ocean's water column.
"Maury will pave the way for the critical next class of multi-mission oceanographic ships integrated with unmanned capabilities under the water, on the surface and in the air," Gallaudet said.
Keynote speaker Senator Roger Wicker lauded the contributions of the ship's namesake, Matthew Fontaine Maury, to the Navy and the science of oceanography. Maury is widely recognized for his contributions to oceanography, including his 1855 book "The Physical Oceanography of the Sea," his wind and current charts, and sailing directions for mariners. He is sometimes referred to as the "Pathfinder of the Seas."
In the 1840s, Maury headed the Depot of Charts and Instruments, a forerunner of today's Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.
"The 'Pathfinder of the Seas' knew there were many more secrets in the sea," Wicker said. "Today there is still much we do not know about the depths of the sea."
He added Maury and the Navy's other oceanographic survey ships are increasing knowledge of the oceans.
The senator's grandchildren and their paternal great-grandmother, who are descendants of Matthew Fontaine Maury, also attended the ceremony.
CNMOC directs and oversees the collection, processing and exploitation of accurate, relevant and timely oceanographic, meteorological, hydrographic, precise time and astrometric information. CNMOC is assigned as CTG 80.7 under U.S. Fleet Forces Command and is part of the Information Warfare community. As such, CNMOC is the Navy's physical battlespace authority.
The Military Sealift Command operates Maury for CNMOC. The surveys will be carried out by detachments of personnel assigned to the Naval Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, a subordinate of CNMOC.
VT Halter Shipyards in Moss Point and Pascagoula, Mississippi have designed, constructed and delivered more than 24 oceanographic, hydrographic and research vessels for the U.S. Navy. VT Halter Marine is the marine operations of Vision Technologies Systems (VT Systems).