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NEWS | June 25, 2021

U.S. Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Changes Command

By Jonathan B. Holloway

Stennis Space Center, Miss. —— Rear Adm. John A. Okon was relieved as commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC) by Rear Adm. Ron Piret in a change of command ceremony, Friday June 25.

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) Adm. Christopher W. Grady provided remarks as the ceremony’s guest speaker, highlighting advancements in operational capabilities during Okon’s tenure as commander.

“Understanding the physical environment and battlespace conditions are the first critical steps in preparing our Navy as we navigate this era of ‘Great Power Competition’ to be ready and lethal upon arrival,” said. Grady. “John, as we reflect on your time here at CNMOC, you have performed superbly as commander.”

Humbled as a leader who has guided naval oceanography for the last four years, Okon expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the Sailors and Civilians he has served alongside.
“For four years I have lived the dream of being your commander, and I could not be more proud,” said Okon. “To command is to serve; nothing more, nothing less, and I hope I lived up to your expectations.”

Okon offered heartfelt remarks to ceremony guests and to the naval oceanography enterprise at-large, but did not shy away from hard remarks as he reflected on today’s geopolitical environment.

“The world is getting more dangerous every day as the hope that China and Russia will be responsible world leaders has given way to them as determined rivals,” said Okon. “With our edge in technology becoming razor thin, we know that the next war will be deterred or won in the information environment.”

Following the ceremony, Okon was promoted to rear admiral upper half and pinned with his second star, assisted by his wife Valerie, CNMOC Technical Director Dr. William Burnett, CNMOC Command Master Chief Jessica Mihailin, and CNMOC Executive Assistant Nikki Thompson.

“The reason why the talented and hard-working people I serve with as commander participate in my pinning ceremony is because it’s their arrival to the daily grind that allows me, and all of us, to succeed,” said Okon. “ For that, I will always include those I work with in these significant milestones of my career.”

The change of command is a Navy tradition conducted in ceremony. Piret’s remarks during the ceremony expressed his nuanced understanding of Navy operations and how naval oceanography ensures fleet capabilities.

“The very nature of our profession recognizes the inherent dangers of operating at sea. Secretary Austin recently commented, ‘the power to deter rests on the guaranteed and clearly understood ability to respond to aggression, in the time and manner of our choosing…” Piret quoted. “This is exactly what naval oceanography and information warfare is founded upon, knowing ourselves better, knowing our adversary better, and understanding the battlespace better in every aspect.”

Piret concluded his remarks by emphasizing the importance of the people who comprise all of naval oceanography and their execution of the overall mission.

“Not only are we ensuring safe operations, but we are maximizing the fleet’s ability to operate where and when it chooses,” said Piret. “Rightfully, we pursue innovation and technology that advances those efforts, but make no mistake, it is the expertise and dedication of Sailors and civilians, the human element, which has remained the cornerstone of naval oceanography’s success and sustained our relevance in maintaining maritime superiority.”

Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command is responsible for approximately 2,500 globally distributed military and civilian personnel who collect, process, and exploit environmental information to inform Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to guarantee the U.S. Navy’s freedom of action in the physical battlespace from the ocean floor to space.

Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command | 1100 Balch Blvd. | Stennis Space Center, Mississippi 39529