Introduction

It is perhaps self-evident that navies around the world are interested in ocean conditions. What may not be so obvious, however, is the variety of ways in which the ocean can affect naval operations. This chapter aims to describe oceanographic impacts on maritime operations, and how these can be assessed and forecast using operational oceanographic capabilities which have become available in recent years. Whilst its content is generally applicable to naval forces, it is presented from the viewpoint of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), which has been closely involved

Directorate of Oceanography and Meteorology, Royal Australian Navy, Sydney, Australia e-mail: [email protected]

A. Schiller, G. B. Brassington (eds.), Operational Oceanography in the 21st Century, 659

DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-0332-2_24, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

in the establishment of oceanographic observation and forecasting in Australia, as a partner in the 'BLUElink' project (Brassington et al. 2007). Jacobs et al. have recently published a more general overview of how operational oceanography is being used by navies throughout the world, which includes examples from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia (Jacobs et al. 2009). Harding and Rigney have previously published an overview of operational oceanography in the United States Navy (Harding and Rigney 2006).

In general terms, military forces around the world have given increasing attention, in recent times, to the importance of basing decision making on the most comprehensive and up to date information available. This is partly due to the increasing capabilities offered by information and communications technologies (ICT), and partly due to a change in emphasis to manoeuvre warfare, rather than positional (or attritional) warfare. The focus on manoeuvre warfare has its roots in the latter part of the Cold War, when NATO realised that it must use force-multipliers if it was to overcome the numerical superiority of Soviet forces. These force multipliers included information superiority and the manoeuvrist approach. The related concept of 'Network Centric Warfare' (NCW), as distinct from a platform centric approach, envisages the rapid collection and dissemination of actionable information, using the latest technologies, to achieve information superiority throughout the battlespace.

Environmental information, including Meteorological and Oceanographic (ME-TOC) information, is regarded by modern navies as a vital component of information superiority and NCW, allowing naval forces to optimise their weapons, sensors and manoeuvre for the prevailing and forecast environmental conditions.

For these reasons, the more technologically advanced world navies have been quick to take advantage of the recent rapid developments in operational oceanography, which have been described elsewhere in this volume. Improved oceanic observations, data management and forecast systems have all been applied to naval operations, in order to contribute to the goal of information superiority.

This approach is particularly applicable in Australia, because oceanographic conditions in the region are so complex (see Fig. 24.1 for geographic locations referred to in this paragraph). The East Australian Current affects the Tasman Sea, spawning numerous warm- and cold-core eddies (Ridgway and Dunn 2003). The Leeuwin Current flows down the west coast and across the Great Australian Bight. The Pacific-Indonesian Throughflow affects the Timor and Arafura Seas and the Northwest Shelf. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current affects waters to the south of the Australian continent. Other oceanographic phenomena in the region include upwelling events (particularly along the Queensland coast, and the Bonney coast of South Australia), internal waves, solitons, extreme tidal ranges and abundant freshwater inflows, providing strong buoyancy forcing during the Northwest monsoon. Faced with the need to operate successfully in such complex waters, the RAN has been quick to appreciate the need to maintain a state-of-the-art oceanographic capability. It is working closely with partners, notably the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), to develop such a capability.

110°E 115'E 120'E 125°E 1WE 135*E 140"E 145'E 150*E 155°E 160*E

110°E 115'E 120'E 125°E 1WE 135*E 140"E 145'E 150*E 155°E 160*E

110°E 115E 120°E 1 ¿56 130°E 135"E 140"E 145°E 150;E 155°E 160°E Fig. 24.1 Geographic locations in the Australian region referred to in the text
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