Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Lindsay Preston // Staff Writer
Sailors have long known the importance of weather conditions while at sea. From forecasting low visibility to rough seas, the Aerographer’s Mates aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) are responsible for ensuring the safety of personnel, aircraft and the ship.
Meteorology and Oceanography division (METOC) determines weather forecasts to inform plans at sea and in the air. Their weather observations and calculations support the safety of navigation and flight operations as well as replenishments-at-sea. They collect this information using satellite imagery, radars and weather meters such as a kestrel.
“The biggest impact we have is information warfare,” said Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Caroline Petty. “By providing products throughout our Strike Group, we give warfare commanders a better picture of what will give us the advantage when performing operations and weather plays a major role on how these operations will be carried out.”
METOC records observations every half hour during flight operations and look for potential adverse weather conditions. These conditions include sea heights, wind and speed directions that effect the launching of aircraft and cloud heights that can effect turbulence and hinder visibility for pilots in the air.
“The inherent nature of the job is a continuous state of change because weather never stays the same,” said Aerographer’s Mate 3rd Class Barry Deleonlee. “We have to stay on top of our observations because it can directly affect operations.”
METOC is made up of 14 Sailors who work around the clock to update weather information up to four days or more in advance. These observations are passed down to all personnel directly involved or in charge of ship operations such as the navigator, officer of the deck, air boss and pilots. Aerographer’s Mates also provide briefs that highlight safer routes for pilots to avoid potential thunderstorms or severe cloud coverage. When low visibility is predicted or reported, the officer of the deck is able to adjust the ship’s course accordingly.
“Weather doesn’t stop or get a day off,” said Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Richard Walker. “Sailors in METOC are constantly supporting the Strike Group by detecting and informing the rest of the ship of hazardous weather.”
In addition to providing weather conditions for the ship out at sea, METOC also provides forecasts for bombing areas to help produce ranges for pilots and targeting systems.
“Not only do we want to take into account the weather around the ship but we also want to find vulnerabilities in our radar,” said Aerographer’s Mate 2nd Class Zachary Schwartz. “We relay this information to intelligence department, so their leaders can make informed decisions on how to carry out the mission effectively and safely.”
The environment can play a determining factor in the success of a particular mission. Incorporating weather and ocean forecasts into operational decision-making allows leaders to account for, and even take advantage of environmental conditions.