Gov. Phil Bryant has announced the creation of the Ocean Task Force during a ceremonial executive order signing in Gulfport. The announcement was made in conjunction with the Naval Oceanography’s Unmanned Systems Operational Demonstration at the Combat Readiness Training Center.
“The Mississippi Gulf Coast is well-positioned to grow as a major unmanned maritime systems center as the result of an increased emphasis on oceanography and survey vessels,” Gov. Bryant said. “The team of experts comprising this Task Force will create the strongest possible environment for attracting the unmanned maritime systems industry to our state.”
The creation of the Ocean Task Force reinforces Mississippi’s commitment to the U.S. Navy and the maritime industry. The purpose of the Task Force is to align Mississippi’s maritime assets to support the Navy’s efforts to maintain its battlespace competitive edge.
“It is the mission of Naval Oceanography to advance ocean science in the U.S. to ensure that the Navy maintains a competitive advantage in our ability to exploit the ocean environment,” said Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and Oceanographer of the Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet. “The state of Mississippi’s Ocean Task Force is a clear and demonstrable show of support for the Chief of Naval Operation’s Task Force Ocean. Together, we will ensure that unmanned maritime systems capabilities will be available to rapidly support multiple national maritime and security objectives.”
The Task Force, which is modeled after Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson’s Task Force Ocean, will address a growing need within private and public sectors to close a widening competitive gap around ocean science and technology. The Task Force will also develop a master plan identifying key attractors, partnerships, missing elements, research and training as state, federal and private resources become available.
Additionally, the Task Force will provide recommendations on how the state can quickly facilitate the training necessary to develop a local workforce to support the unmanned maritime systems industry. The workforce will research, develop, build and operate various types of unmanned systems to support the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, NASA, Department of Homeland Security and Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources.
“I am incredibly honored to chair the Ocean Task Force for Governor Bryant. This is a visionary step toward enhancing our nation’s advantage in the design, development, testing and application of unmanned maritime systems,” said Dr. Monty Graham, director of the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Ocean Science and Technology. “Mississippi has such a rich history founded on shipbuilding and maritime commerce, and now we plan to lead the nation into the future of science and technology in unmanned maritime systems.”
The Master Plan is due 120 days from the announcement of the Task Force. The Task Force will exist through the Gov. Bryant’s term.