COVID-19 News

Navy meteorologists, oceanographers guide COVID-19 hospital ships

USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) arrived safely in New York last week and USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) arrived safely in Los Angeles the week prior to help ease hospital crowding related to COVID-19. While the Navy’s hospital ships prepared to receive patients, Naval Oceanography’s team of meteorologists and oceanographers ensured these ships were safe from hazardous weather as they traveled to their destinations.

On March 20, Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) rapidly configured two ship-following coupled ocean/atmosphere mesoscale prediction systems (COAMPS) for the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort. The center of these high-resolution weather models is the location of each hospital ship as it transited to Los Angeles or New York, providing specific weather, wave and ocean predictions for their humanitarian efforts.

“Ship-following COAMPS highlights Naval Oceanography’s culture of innovation. No other operational command in the world is able to provide an afloat unit, a tailored and relocatable high-resolution model, and forecasts. Whenever and wherever the Navy operates, Naval Oceanography stands ready to deliver its advanced capabilities,” said Rear Admiral John A. Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

The Pentagon activated USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort, staffed with active-duty and reservist medical personnel, to treat non-coronavirus patients along both coasts to relieve local hospitals amid surges in coronavirus patients.

Ship-following COAMPS is the Department of Defense’s only high-resolution, coupled atmosphere and ocean prediction system. FNMOC operates the ship-following COAMPS to provide continuous coverage of atmospheric model data to ships at sea that are not operating within normal or static forecast model locations.

“FNMOC is the foundation for Fleet safety. Every forecast starts with FNMOC environmental prediction products and services,” said FNMOC Commanding Officer Capt. Thomas Moneymaker.

FNMOC, located in Monterey, Calif., and Stennis, Miss., is the Navy’s premier numerical weather prediction center. FNMOC fulfills this role through a suite of global and regional meteorological and oceanographic models, extending from the top of the atmosphere to the sea floor.

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.

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