Tripoli: Then and Now

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By Capt. Kevin P. Meyers
Commanding officer, PCU Tripoli

Having just passed the 30-year mark of service to this great Navy, I have seen quite a bit of history and experienced many memorable events. There are moments which give you pause, due to their timelessness and their place in our Navy’s heritage. The christening of a ship, for me, is one of them.

I recently had the honor to attend the christening of the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Tripoli’s sponsor, Lynne Mabus, wife of our 75th Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, deftly shattered the bottle of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow. Those in attendance or who watched the video of the event know that was a “home run” swing if there ever was one.

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Sept. 16, 2017) Ship's sponsor Lynne Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the future amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) during the ship's christening ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli's prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries by Lance Davis/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Sept. 16, 2017) Ship’s sponsor Lynne Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the future amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) during the ship’s christening ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli’s prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries by Lance Davis/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (May 1, 2017) The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. Tripoli incorporates an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced maintenance facilities, increased fuel capacity and additional storerooms to provide the fleet with a platform optimized for aviation capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (May 1, 2017) The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. Tripoli incorporates an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced maintenance facilities, increased fuel capacity and additional storerooms to provide the fleet with a platform optimized for aviation capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The Sailor in me is filled with a range of emotions; I feel all at once humbled, proud and excited. I am humbled by the sheer magnitude of this 45,000-ton mighty warship, proud beyond measure to be her first commanding officer and lead this amazing crew, and excited at our future endeavors.

During time-honored traditions like a ship’s christening, the best way to appreciate what the future holds is to fully appreciate where the past has brought us.

As a student of history, the comments by Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter, 62nd superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, in his remarks at christening were enlightening. He spoke fondly of the Tripoli Monument, which now sits on the grounds of the Naval Academy.

For a bit of context, the ship’s name, Tripoli, harkens back to our nation’s first foreign conflict, the War with the Barbary Pirates. In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson dispatched ships instead of paying tribute and our nation’s flag was raised on foreign soil for the first time. The Marine Corps Hymn celebrates the bravery of our early Marines with the line “To the shores of Tripoli.” LHA-7, the future USS Tripoli, will be the third to bear the name.

The Tripoli Monument, I learned, is actually our nation’s oldest military monument. Carved in Livorno, Italy, in 1806 to honor the heroes of that war, it was brought to the United States aboard USS Constitution. Its first home was the Washington Navy Yard, where it sustained damage there during the War of 1812. It was then moved to the west front terrace of the U.S. Capitol, facing the National Mall in 1831, and stood there until 1860 when it was moved to the Naval Academy.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 15, 2017) The Tripoli Monument is pictured at the U.S. Naval Academy (U.S. Navy courtesy photo/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 15, 2017) The Tripoli Monument is pictured at the U.S. Naval Academy (U.S. Navy courtesy photo/Released)

As I reflect on the christening of LHA-7 Tripoli and the Tripoli monument, I find it an interesting juxtaposition. The monument—with its column, sculptures and mass of stone—resting stoically on the Naval Academy campus the last 157 years and the enormous mass of steel – Tripoli. The Tripoli Monument honors the brave men who fought our Nation’s first war centuries ago, I trust the Sailors and Marines who serve aboard Tripoli will continue to honor their forbearers. What a proud day for our Navy and our nation!


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Tripoli: Then and Now

U.S. Navy Ocean Gliders: Unmanned Underwater Vehicles That Are Improving Our Understanding of the World’s Oceans

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By Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet
Oceanographer of the Navy
Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command

In the wake of multiple news reports about U.S. Navy ocean gliders, there have been numerous questions about these instruments and what they do for the U.S. Navy.

AT SEA (July 31, 2016) A littoral battlespace sensing-glider (LBS-G) is deployed from a Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) T-AGS 60-class vessel. After deployment, civilian pilots command and control Naval Oceanographic Office gliders 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Glider Operations Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
AT SEA (July 31, 2016) A littoral battlespace sensing-glider (LBS-G) is deployed from a Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) T-AGS 60-class vessel. After deployment, civilian pilots command and control Naval Oceanographic Office gliders 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Glider Operations Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Ocean gliders are autonomous underwater vehicles used to collect oceanographic data in an effort to better understand the ocean. The gliders are made by Teledyne Webb and are sold commercially. The Navy uses the gliders to collect ocean temperature, salinity and depth information, and transmit the unclassified data to Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) for assimilation into NAVOCEANO’s operational ocean models. They are used by scientists and professionals around the world working in academia, the oil and gas industry as well as the military. Gliders have been the workhorses of the operational Naval Oceanography program for nearly two decades.

In 2004, I was on one of the Navy’s survey vessels for the first deployment of a glider from a Navy ship. Afterwards, the U.S. Navy established the Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Gliders (LBS-G) as a program of record in 2010 and has been using these gliders operationally since 2012. Each glider is modular in design and buoyancy-driven, allowing it to collect oceanographic data on water pressure, temperature, salinity in the water column for up to four months without the need for active propulsion.

I fund and direct the operations of this glider fleet from NAVOCEANO at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. This fleet is the largest in the world, launched and recovered from six forward deployed military oceanographic survey vessels. NAVOCEANO’s scientists and Sailors conduct sea floor mapping from these ships to understand the undersea environment for military applications. Operations of the survey fleet is provided by the Military Sealift Command who own and operate the ships.

The gliders are piloted by personnel within NAVOCEANO’s Glider Operation Center (GOC) 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Stennis Space Center. In the event that the GOC loses contact with the instruments, they remain afloat in the ocean until located and recovered.

How do we use the data? NAVOCEANO uses the data collected for numerical modeling of ocean conditions. These models improve with glider data, which we share with regional partners to help their understanding of the environment.

Only 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. These underwater robots allow us to explore more of the ocean, and faster, at a fraction of the cost of a manned submersible or a ship.  

Why does the Navy use gliders? Only 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. These underwater robots allow us to explore more of the ocean, and faster, at a fraction of the cost of a manned submersible or a ship. The information gathered allows us to better predict ocean currents, density, sea states and tides which the U.S. Navy needs to safely and effectively operate all around the world. Once deployed, a glider can persistently sample the ocean for months freeing the ship to perform other functions.

I am extremely proud of our robust glider program. My goals for this program include expanding the current use of gliders, enabling the Fleet through the use of gliders and ocean models, and accelerating development and deployment of newer systems.

We have approximately 130 of these gliders and they are relatively inexpensive. The U.S. Navy will not only continue to use these technologies to improve our knowledge of the oceans, but we will be significantly increasing our use of gliders over the coming years so that our understanding of the ocean is the best in the world.


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U.S. Navy Ocean Gliders: Unmanned Underwater Vehicles That Are Improving Our Understanding of the World’s Oceans