Boxer Forecasters Predict Safety First

Story Number: NNS090120-06Release Date: 1/20/2009 5:20:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson, USS Boxer (LHD 4) Public Affairs

USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer's (LHD 4) aerographer's mates contribute hourly weather information to Boxer's leadership for operational planning.

Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG), currently deployed to the Western Pacific Ocean in support of global maritime security, uses weather forecasters, led by an Oceanography and Meteorological Officer, to successfully plan and execute operations safely.

"My job is to provide weather and oceanography support to the strike group," said Meteorological and Oceanography Officer Lt. Eric MacDonald. "Forecasters gather and analyze weather information, how it will affect pilots and aircraft during flight operations, as well as how the ocean conditions will affect the ships."

Weather forecasts enable leaders to conduct operations during favorable weather conditions, minimizing safety hazards to people and equipment.

"Weather intelligence is one factor that helps preserve Navy assests by mitigating risks," continued MacDonald, "Most importantly, human life and equipment."

MacDonald leads 10 weather forecasters in the non-stop process of gathering weather data to conduct up to eight real-time weather briefs each day.

"I gather meteorological and oceanographic data and prepare it to brief the leaders that make the strike group go," said Aerographer's Mate 2nd Class Brian Heiler. "Every operation has to take weather into account, so this is a high-profile job."

Weather and sea conditions are constantly changing, creating challenges for aerographer's mates.

"Predicting the weather is a very difficult and complex job because the weather is never constant," said Heiler. "We often use upper-air balloons to gather information like wind direction, speed and humidity. That information helps us determine how the weather fluctuates."

Aerographer's mates also collect information about sea conditions and patterns in addition to the weather conditions.

"Oceanography plays an important role for us because amphibious assault ships like Boxer need the right sea conditions to launch Marines and equipment onto beaches," said Macdonald.

Boxer is the lead ship of the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Goup (BOXESG), which is comprised of Amphibious Squadron Five, the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USCGC Boutwell (WHEC 719), USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, Naval Beach Group One, Assault Craft Unit Five, Assault Craft Unit One, Beach Master Unit One and Fleet Surgical Team Five.

The 13th MEU is comprised of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), Combat Logistics Battalion 13 and Battalion Landing Team 1/1.

For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit

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