Oceanography (OCEANO), also called METOC for Meteorology and Oceanography, is a Restricted Line community of approximately 350 officers. Oceanographers are the Navy’s geophysical warriors with expertise in all facets of meteorology, oceanography, hydrography, and precise time & astrometry.
Oceanographers enable and optimize the commander’s warfare options by understanding and forecasting the environmental conditions likely to impact military operations. They deliver timely and accurate understanding of the battlespace from below the oceans to the outer reaches of space. They also are responsible for the military’s primary master clock which provides the most precise time interval in the world and drives the Global Positioning System.
(1) Warfare Competency: Oceanographers develop expertise in the geophysical environments which impact nine key warfare elements: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Mine Warfare (MIW), Naval Special Warfare (NSW), Navigation (NAV), Aviation (AVN), Fleet Operations, Precise Time, Expeditionary Warfare (EXW) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).
(2) Leadership: Leadership is a core competency for all Navy Officers. Oceanographers are called upon to lead everything from small, 3-4 person deployable teams, to commands of over 400 military and civilians.
Initial Training Pipeline
New Oceanographers attend Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC) in Dam Neck, Virginia for 3 weeks followed by Basic Oceanography Accession Training (BOAT) in Gulfport, Mississippi for 7 weeks prior to reporting to their initial oceanography assignments. Officers may be sent to other courses, such as Division Officer Leadership Course (DIVOLC), as required.
(1) Required: Baccalaureate degree, preferably in a technical field, with a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or greater, along with completion of a full college calculus series (Calculus I and II) with a minimum of a “C” average, and a college level calculus-based physics series (Physics I and II) with a minimum “C” average.
(2) Desired: Baccalaureate degree in physics, physics based oceanography, meteorology, hydrography, earth science, or engineering.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
Open to male and female candidates, must be qualified for sea duty, world-wide assignable and eligible for a Top-Secret security clearance.
(1) Assignment: Oceanographers serve in a variety of challenging operational billets of ever increasing scope and responsibility both at sea and ashore. The oceanographer’s career path is designed to develop geophysical expertise as applied to warfare applications by interweaving sea, shore and educational tours. Sea duty assignments may include small team detachments aboard U.S. and foreign navy surface combatants and survey vessels, embarked OCEANO Officer aboard an aircraft carrier or large amphibious ship, Strike Group staff or deployed Joint Task Force at every grade. Shore tours include assignments at major production commands, forecast or reach back centers of excellence, major headquarters and Joint commands, Office of Naval Research, Naval Research Labs, and various overseas assignments. OCEANO officers are frequently the one-of-one geophysical expert at a warrior command.
(2) Advanced Education: Postgraduate education is required of all oceanographers, LCDR and senior. Most naval oceanographers complete the Air/Ocean Science curriculum at the Naval Postgraduate School as mid-grade LTs. One or two oceanographers per year may attend programs at select civilian institutions such as Woods Hole/MIT. Doctoral studies are available as needed averaging two oceanographer quotas per year, in order to meet PhD coded billet requirements.
(3) Overseas Duty: The OCEANO community is represented throughout the world from Europe to Hawaii, Asia and the Middle East.
(4) Promotion Opportunities: Promotion to LTJG and LT occur at 2 and 4 years of commissioned service respectively. The oceanography community promotion opportunities are competitive with the Unrestricted Line (URL) communities for promotion to LCDR and higher: LCDR between 9 and 10 years of commissioned service; CDR between 15 and 16 years of commissioned service; and CAPT at approximately 22 years of service. The oceanography community has two Flag Officers.