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CHIPS Articles: BOAT: Entry Point for New Oceanography Officers

BOAT: Entry Point for New Oceanography Officers
By George Lammons, NAVIFOR Public Affairs, Mark Shaffer and Dan Banks, Information Warfare Training Group, Gulfport - July-September 2018
GULFPORT, Miss. – Basic Officer Accession Training (BOAT) has been turning Navy officers into Naval Oceanography Officers for 26 years.

Since 1992, BOAT has been the first stop for newly accessed oceanography officers. The course, which graduates about 40 students a year, was initially designed to provide formal training in the fundamentals of meteorology and oceanography and computer support systems to newly assessed officers prior to arriving at their first duty station. And the curriculum is adjusted to accommodate new operational technology and modifications to the missions.

“The things that you’ve learned here, you are going to have to nurture and grow,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NAVMETOCCOM) commander, at the April 6, 2018 BOAT graduation. “We’ve given you all the knowledge, now you have to practice it. Your oceanography career started here.”

BOAT students also get a healthy dose of leadership training from a meteorology and oceanography perspective thanks to sessions with senior enlisted and community officer leadership. As Capt. Ron Shaw, NAVMETOCCOM Chief of Staff, told the June 8, 2018, graduates, they were “here to lead.”

Aerographer’s Mate Chief Petty Officer Richard Byerly, an instructor BOAT Curriculum Developer and the incoming BOAT Course Supervisor at the Naval Information Warfare Training Group (NIWTG) Gulfport, Mississippi, formerly Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Professional Development Center (NAVMETOCPRODEVCEN), said, “It [BOAT] gives us a chance to welcome our junior officers to our family and gives them a strong foothold before they get started.”

Sailors and civilians teach the course at NIWTG Gulfport. In its earliest days, the course was taught at the Naval Oceanographic Office, a subordinate of NAVMETOCCOM. But in 2000, NAVMETOCCOM established NAVMETOCPRODEVCEN, for continuing education and emerging training needs in the Naval Oceanography Community, and transferred BOAT to NAVMETOCPRODEVCEN. NAVMETOCPRODEVCEN became NIWTG Gulfport and a subordinate of what is now Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) June 11, 2018.

Enlisted Sailors, armed with recent fleet experience, and civilian instructors provide continuous guidance to ensure maximum acquisition and retention of critical thinking skills and complex problem solving abilities. The Naval Oceanography community as a whole, develops and alters the curriculum, based on the things that the community needs to do for the fleet.

Although most of the officers have a science/math-type academic background, the only academic requirement for BOAT is a mathematics-based physics course, so any academic degree is accepted as long as the officer has the mathematics-based physics prerequisite.

“Before BOAT, oceanography officer accessions received little or no oceanography training beyond what they had in college or in their initial post-college schools. They just went to their [first] billet,” said Aerographer’s Mate Petty Officer First Class Leigh Windham, NIWTG Gulfport instructor and outgoing BOAT Course Supervisor. “That’s why it started – because they needed an introduction to METOC (meteorology and oceanography).”

At BOAT, the new oceanographers learn or review the basics of meteorology and oceanography, the basics of the Navy’s Meteorology and Oceanography Community and the basics of AG training. NIWTG Gulfport, NAVMETOCCOM and the Navy’s enlisted weather school are all located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the class visits all the assets in the area.

From BOAT, the new officers go to operational oceanography commands worldwide. “We’re all in on you. We need you to be all in,” Okon said to the group at the April 6 graduation.

NAVIFOR's mission is to provide combat-ready Information Warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.

For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.navifor.navy.mil/, or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Forces.

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