STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- Oceanographer of the Navy and Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (COMNAVMETOCCOM) Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet spoke to 15 students who will be the first class in the nation to earn a certification in Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS), May 11.
"All of you should be very proud of where you are because this program is going to take off," said Gallaudet. "This program is comparable to Project Mercury. So in essence, what you're doing here now is similar to getting the first astronaut on the moon. In a year from now, you will be very impressed with how far you've come."
The program is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and kicked off two weeks ago at The University of Southern Mississippi at Stennis Space Center. The goal is to offer training in the safe and effective use of underwater and ocean surface UMS.
The inaugural class includes civilian and military personnel from the Naval Oceanographic Office, Fleet Survey Team and Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center based at Stennis Space Center; Naval Oceanography Special Warfare Center based in San Diego, California; Submarine Development Squadron 5 based in Bangor, Washington; Naval Undersea Warfare Center based in Newport, Rhode Island; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based in Norfolk, Virginia.
Program Instructor Dr. Vernon Asper said, "The curriculum presents an enormous amount of information in a very short time period so the students will definitely be challenged. We started with the basics of density and buoyancy, and then learned how computers interface with the environment. Our next steps will involve hands-on work, which will eventually lead them to build their own unmanned underwater vehicle."
The program was launched amid COMNAVMETOCCOM preparations for a Gulf of Mexico Unmanned Systems Operational Demonstration that will take place at the end of May. The final week of the course will be conducted in conjunction with the demonstration, and the graduating class will be presented their Tier 1 certifications by Gallaudet. Tier 2 level classes are being structured. The next Tier 1 class begins in the fall with dates still to be determined. Enrollment will be open to U.S. federal employees and contractors.
Hosted by COMNAVMETOCCOM, the Gulf of Mexico Unmanned Systems Operational Demonstration provides an opportunity for U.S. Navy, academia and industry to demonstrate existing unmanned capabilities, showcase local infrastructure and explore collaborative opportunities in support of national defense.
COMNAVMETOCCOM 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 faster than the adversary.
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