STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- The Aerographer's Mate (AG) rating turns 87 on July 1, and Aerographer's Mates throughout the Navy are celebrating the day as a part of the Centennial Year of Naval Aviation (CONA).
"This Centennial Year of Naval Aviation is a special year for AGs. We have been a part of Naval Aviation for our entire history and since its very early days, have been forecasting the weather for aviators on ships and shore installations- everywhere the Navy sends aircraft," said Master Chief Aerographer's Mate Keith Edwards, command master chief of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.
The rating, originally called Aerographers, was established in 1924, 12 years after the Navy's first flight, and six years after the creation of the Navy Weather Officer. The name was changed to "Aerographer's Mates" in 1942. Enlisted forerunners to AGs were quartermasters with an aviation specialty. But in 1923, Lt. Francis Reichelderfer, head of the Navy's weather service, recognized the Navy's need for a special enlisted rate that offered advancement potential for the Navy's weather service to prosper.
The term, "Aerographer," came from Dr. Alexander McAdie, founder of the Navy's weather service, who reportedly coined the term aerography as the study of the atmosphere from the viewpoint of an aviator. McAdie created the Navy Aerological Organization in 1918. During World War I, the Navy planned to man aerographic stations to provide winds-aloft measurements bi-hourly, particularly at blimp bases.
The need for a more active aerology branch became apparent shortly after the war ended. The Navy planned for units at Navy and Marine Corps air stations, on the aircraft carrier USS Wright, as well as on seaplane tenders in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. Early weather observers were transferring into other programs or out of the Navy almost as soon as they finished their training, so the Navy established the new rating July 1, 1924. The first Aerographers, lured by the promise of quick promotion, were strikers from a variety of backgrounds.
Today there are approximately 1,000 AGs. The rating has expanded from aviation weather forecasting to include maritime weather forecasting, unmanned underwater vehicle operation and sonar imagery analysis in mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and hydrography. In addition to deploying on aircraft carriers, AGs now deploy on a wide variety of ships, operate from forward bases with Special Operations teams, participate in mine warfare operations and exercises, and survey foreign ports and coastlines in support of cooperative operations and disaster relief.
"As the Navy has changed and adapted to new technologies, we have had to adapt as well," Edwards said. "Conditions in the natural environment have such a big impact on operations, our role in forecasting these conditions and understanding the way the natural environment acts is vital to the fleet's safety and success."
For more news from Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnmoc/.