SPACE CENTER -
At a time when the United States is looking more and more
to a technologically advanced military, The University of
Southern Mississippi's Department of Marine Science is providing
a means to enhance that leading edge.
years ago, Southern Miss began a partnership with the U.S.
Navy to provide an advanced degree program in hydrographic
science, the study of mapping the sea floor. The military
applications of this discipline dictate the movement of naval
forces in combat and peacetime. Large vessels like aircraft
carriers require adequate bottom clearance for safe navigation.
Surveying the underwater landscape in and around target areas
can tell the Navy where forces can safely maneuver.
Admiral Thomas Q. Donaldson V is commander of the worldwide
Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC), which
is headquartered at Stennis
Donaldson was named hydrographer of the Navy in April 2001.
Both officers and civilian employees of CNMOC have graduated
from the Southern Miss program.
is a win‑win situation," Donaldson said. "People
get the training they need immediately without major disruption
to their personal or professional lives. In return, the Navy
gets trained people without the expense of sending key performers
away to school for a year or more."
Southern Miss program based at the Stennis
naval personnel attend an intensive one‑year program
just a few hundred feet from their normal duty stations.
Wiesenburg is chair of the Southern Miss Department of Marine
Science at Stennis and one of the authors of the hydrographic
science partnership with the Navy. He sees this type of cooperative
venture as an increasing trend in higher education.
AMatching specific educational opportunities
with targeted student needs assures the long‑term success
of both a university and its clients,@
Wiesenburg said. ASouthern Miss's presence
at Stennis allowed us to deliver graduate education where
it was needed most and where it could be put to use immediately.
some of the top minds in hydrography was a key component of
the program from its inception. Faculty moved to Southern Miss from
the established Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Department
at the University
of New Brunswick
in Fredericton, New
Brunswick, and the Graduate School
of Oceanography at the University
of Rhode Island
AWe're very proud to have Dr. David Wells
as a guiding force in the formation and delivery of our program,@ Wiesenburg said. Known internationally
as one of the leading minds in the field of hydrography, Wells
was one of the authors of the first definitive work on global
positioning systems (GPS). Today, he continues to teach such
courses as ASatellite
Geodesy and Positioning,@
exploring the science of the size and shape of the earth and
man=s relative position on it.
Dodd, a 1994 graduate of the geodesy and geomatics engineering
program at UNB, coordinates the Hydrographic Science Program
at Southern Miss=s
Stennis site. AThe program has evolved to provide both
national and international students with an advanced education
in a program that has received the highest level of accreditation
from the international bodies that are responsible for
hydrography and the safety of navigation throughout the
Dodd said. The Southern Miss hydrography academic program
was awarded category A certification by the Féderation
Internationale des Géométres/International Hydrographic
Organization (FIG/IHO) International Advisory Board in
level of expertise in the increasingly technical field
has already paid dividends to the Navy.
sent three military members from the first graduating
class to aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf
and they stepped into some of the most important roles
on their ships,@
Donaldson said. AOne of them
was awarded a Bronze Star for performance in combat operations.
Our civilian graduates now include 15 international leaders
in ‘Class A’ hydrography at Stennis
33 graduates already back at work in their various posts
within the Naval Oceanographic Office, the graduates are
asked to put their knowledge to work as part of the Navy's
Fleet Survey Team (FST). The Navy established the FST
to fill a need for fast charting of “hot” areas, including
areas where the Navy has – or will have – a significant
presence, or where existing chart accuracy is questionable.
FST consists of three meteorological and oceanographic
officers and two to four civilians. Lt. Cmdr. Brian Connon
was one of the first recipients of the Southern Miss master=s
degree in hydrography and one of the first naval officers
assigned to the FST.
think the biggest take‑away from the Fleet Survey
Team experience was the value of an applied degree,@
Connon said from his current position as Flag METOC officer
for Commander, Carrier Group Five, aboard the USS Kitty
hands‑on environment and small class size of Southern Miss
really made a difference in preparing me for a future
in hydrography. We learned the business from the bottom
up and can now take that education, apply it to the U.S.
and provide war fighters with that extra edge.
completion of their Fleet Survey Team tour, naval officers
transfer to fleet billets either on major afloat staffs
or as the meteorology and oceanography officer aboard
an aircraft carrier or large deck amphibious ship, said
Capt. Philip G. Renaud, commanding officer for the Naval
Oceanographic Office at Stennis.
AWe prefer that the FST officers transfer
to battle group staffs so that they can influence battle
group commanders in critical war-fighting decision‑making
characterization, precise targeting, mine warfare,
and safety of navigation,” he said. The FST officers also
have familiarity with military survey ship operations
and can advise fleet and battle group commanders regarding
their coursework, hydrography students also have an opportunity
to participate in ongoing hydrographic research at the
Hydrographic Science Research Center (HSRC), also located
Roman, CAPT USN (Ret.), is the new director of the HSRC.
Roman said he envisions a continued relationship with
the U.S. Navy and an expansion of research opportunities
with other government and commercial clients.
AThe advances in hydrographic science that
result from our research directly benefit both the Navy
and the wider national and international hydrographic
Roman said. AHydrographic
surveying, data processing and visualization, navigation,
marine resource management, and even homeland security
are some of the many activities our research will benefit.@
division of the College
of Marine Sciences,
the Department of Marine Science is strategically located
at Stennis Space
Center in Hancock
to the world=s largest
population of oceanographers and hydrographers. The department
officers both master=s and doctoral
degrees in marine science and a master's degree in hydrographic