STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss –
Naval Oceanography hosted Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) for an operational tour, capitalizing on the NavalX Gulf Coast Tech Bridge partnership, outlined by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the agencies involved, Mar. 1, 2023.
The MOA is focused on collaborative innovations in areas of: coastal sciences and technology (S&T); assured maritime access; and operational oceanography.
Reaffirming agency relationships and support of the MOA’s intent were representatives: Betty C. Jester, Chief Technology Officer at Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC); Holly C. Gardner, NavalX Gulf Coast Tech Bridge Director and Director of Strategy and Engagement at NSWC PCD; and Todd Bowers, CNMOC’s Innovation and Experimentation Lead.
“Interagency collaboration is a necessary component to future interactions being efficient enough to facilitate successful development and transition of warfighting capabilities to the Navy,” said Jester. “Advancing our [agencies in MOA] mutual goals in coastal S&T, assured maritime access and operational meteorology and oceanography will provide the advantage over our adversaries.”
CNMOC, NSWC PCD and the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center (NRL-SSC) are the agencies involved in this partnership—which seeks to ensure the Navy can swiftly acquire future technologies to meet emerging global threats.
According to Jester, the relationship between the agencies is distinct as it will leverage S&T accomplished by NRL-SSC, and research and development (R&D) executed by NSWC PCD—ultimately for operational use.
“Together, the NavalX Gulf Coast Tech Bridge partners provide support of the full-spectrum acquisition lifecycle as well as world class test ranges.” Gardner said. “This fiscal year, we are focusing on: capability development and transition; providing rapid technology insertions; and prototyping opportunities supporting technical focus areas, particularly unmanned systems and machine learning.”
Combined, the partnership and MOA have a full gamut of goals rapidly on the way to achievement, considering interagency cooperation as a vital component for that success.
“Accomplishing these goals will require increased coordination and collaboration among Navy commands, other governmental organizations, and our regional partners,” said Gardner.
“We are finding ways to leverage CNMOC’s access to operational end-users to incorporate Fleet feedback in the design-cycle to improve overall outcomes.”
The MOA will also enlist help of the Gulf Coast community to solve some of the Navy’s technical challenges.
“One of our focus areas is building strategic alliances to guide fielding of advanced technologies, where we will prioritize identification of collaborative relationships in the Naval Research and Development enterprise, along with academia, and industry,” said Gardner. “The [Gulf Coast] region has vast maritime assets with potential to enhance future naval capabilities as they move from concept, development and to the Fleet.”
The MOA’s focus areas to exchange information and expertise include:
(1) Providing surplus/excess equipment to agencies involved, by request;
(2) Adopting procedures to optimize test and training ranges of related Navy facilities;
(3) Utilizing networks of unmanned maritime system’s through partnerships;
(4) Co-procurement and/or other means of responsible Federal acquisitions;
(5) Developing policy to share unmanned maritime systems;
(6) Subject matter expert agency exchanges;
(7) Joint testing and evaluation in Gulf of Mexico; and
(8) Establishing off-base collaborative spaces/ innovations hubs for rapid collaboration.
NSWC PCD is the U.S. Navy’s premier research, development, test and evaluation Command supporting crucial mission spectrums in Mine Warfare, Naval Special Warfare, Diving and Life Support, and Amphibious and Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare Systems, as well as other missions in the Littoral Battlespace. It is the principal repository of the national expertise in these areas that are absolutely critical to the future of Navy and Marine Corps operations. NSWC PCD, located in Panama City, Fla., provides a pristine test environment and access to the Gulf Test Range along the Gulf of Mexico.
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
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.