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NEWS | Nov. 21, 2022

USNS Mary Sears Hosts U.S Ambassador to Australia

By LCDR Bobby Dixon, Director of Public Affairs

Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS 65) hosts U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy during the ship’s scheduled visit to Sydney, Australia, on Nov 8, 2022.

The port visit highlighted the strong U.S. commitment to the region built on shared values and principles and helped strengthen the alliance between the U.S. and Australia.

"Mary Sears was an incredible scientist, a pioneer in the field of oceanography, and a role model for countless women in science, technology, engineering, and math who followed in her footsteps," said U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. "It was a pleasure to step aboard the survey vessel named in her honor, which continues the work of providing the U.S. Navy with the environmental information it needs to keep our region and the world safe."

Ambassador Kennedy toured USNS Mary Sears and received a Naval Oceanography overview from Commander Jonathan Savage during her time onboard. The visit was Ambassador Kennedy’s first to an oceanographic survey vessel and her first visit to a U.S. Navy ship since taking office as U.S. Ambassador to Australia in July 2022.

“We were excited to have USNS Mary Sears come to Sydney and host U.S. Ambassador Kennedy onboard.” said Rear Adm. Ron Piret, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “It was greatly appreciated for the Ambassador to visit and recognize the importance of the work USNS Mary Sears and Naval Oceanography do for the security and stability throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.”

This visit enhanced the trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS”—referencing Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—focused on strengthening the ability to support mutual security and defense interests in the Indo-Pacific region through information exchange.

The Indo-Pacific is a contentious and contested region, where strong western allied partnerships can be a solution.

Naval Oceanography hosted representatives from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organization (AGO), and representatives from the U.S. Embassy for an in-depth tour of Naval Oceanography’s survey ship USNS Mary Sears and a reception on board. The ship reception is a final event following a multi-day visit that included strategic dialogues with AGO, office calls with key RAN leadership, and visits to Australian Meteorology and Oceanography organizations.

The namesake of USNS Mary Sears was born on 18 July 1905 in Wayland, Massachusetts. During World War II, Sears left her job as a research assistant at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to join the war effort.

As a Navy lieutenant in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), she was later appointed head of the Navy Hydrographic Office’s new Oceanographic Unit where her research proved critical to the survivability of U.S. submarines. Her intelligence reports, “Submarine Supplements to the Sailing Directions,” predicted thermoclines—areas of rapid water temperature change; meaning submarines could hide in thermoclines to escape enemy detection by surface sonar.  The most detailed account of CDR Sears' life can be found in a new book called "Lethal Tides" by author Catherine Musemeche.

The U.S. and Australian Navy share an interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, overflight, and other lawful uses of the sea, and continue to develop advanced, joint military capabilities, promoting security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command directs and oversees more than 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 make better decisions, based on assured environmental information, faster than the adversary.
 
Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command | 1100 Balch Blvd. | Stennis Space Center, Mississippi 39529