Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command Partners with USM for Groundbreaking Research Collaboration

An artist’s rendition of an underwater uncrewed vehicle (UUV) collecting data in a coastal region. (Image credit: USM)

In a significant step toward advancing naval capabilities in seabed warfare, uncrewed systems autonomy, and ocean data science, the Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (COMNAVMETOCCOM) has partnered with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

This partnership is set to leverage cutting-edge uncrewed systems platforms, sensors, and recent advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI) to address crucial challenges in Naval Meteorology and Oceanography.

The collaboration will produce a series of demonstrations aimed at enhancing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) operational efficiency and technological capabilities in not only congested coastal areas, but at depth near the seabed.

The USM enterprise will be led by scientists and engineers from the Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise, and on the CNMOC side, scientists from the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO). Both teams will invest significant resources over the next four years including: personnel, research facilities, and access to test data from USM’s CUBEnet system, as well as Navy databases.

Dr. Kelly Lucas, USM’s Vice President of Research, highlighted the synergy between the institutions, stating, “Our combined efforts will not only push the boundaries of naval technology but also provide invaluable training opportunities for DoD personnel, ensuring our armed forces remain at the forefront of innovation.”

A core focus of the CRADA will be the exploration of trusted autonomy, advanced sensors for seabed warfare, and the integration of uncrewed systems data with USM’s newly upgraded AI-powered CUBEnet system. These initiatives promise to revolutionize the Navy’s operational capabilities in critical maritime domains.

Dr. Jason McKenna, the Principal Investigator for USM’s Center for Ocean Enterprise, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration: “This partnership marks a pivotal moment in our collaboration to enhance US Navy operational capability in the world’s most austere environments,” said McKenna. “Leveraging USM’s research capabilities with the deep domain expertise within CNMOC and NAVOCEANO will let us make significant advancements in uncrewed systems and seabed warfare technologies.”

Echoing the sentiments of optimism, Ms. Betty Jester, COMNAVMETOCCOM Chief Technical Officer, stated: “This CRADA exemplifies our commitment to fostering innovation and securing a technological edge for the Navy. Our collaboration with USM is a very real step in our ongoing efforts to ensure maritime superiority.”

Marty Doody, Chief Scientist at the Naval Oceanographic Office, noted the strategic importance of the partnership: “This collaboration is a testament to the power of merging naval operational expertise with academic research prowess,” said Doody. “The focus on uncrewed systems and sensor technology through this CRADA will not only enhance our seabed warfare capabilities but also pave the way for breakthroughs in maritime science and technology.”

Dr. Brian Cuevas, Director of the Office of Innovation Management at USM, emphasized the importance of the collaborative approach: “By fostering research collaborations with our Mississippi based DoD partners, we can accelerate the pace of translational research needed to support our warfighter, while growing high demand jobs in the state,” said Cuevas.

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