Around the Pier: Scripps Alum Tim Gallaudet Becomes Oceanographer of the Navy


Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, who received a doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, became the Oceanographer of the Navy in a Sept. 25 ceremony at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

Gallaudet succeeds Rear Adm. Jonathan White in the position. White is retiring after 32 years of service to the Navy.

The Oceanographer of the Navy serves as a key advisor to the chief of naval operations.  As the senior oceanographer in the Navy, who also serves as commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, Gallaudet will provide naval leadership on all issues related to oceanography, meteorology, hydrography, precise time, climate change, the Arctic, maritime domain awareness and geospatial and celestial referencing. He will also serve as the senior policy advisor for issues related to national ocean policy and governance.

Also named Navigator of the Navy, Gallaudet will provide policy and requirements guidance to ensure naval forces have state-of-the-practice positioning, navigation and timing capabilities for accurate operational maneuver and optimum weapons employment, enabling a competitive advantage across the full spectrum of naval and joint warfare.

“The Navy has made huge gains in ocean science and technology, due in part to its great partnership with the academic world and Scripps Oceanography in particular,” said White. “Tim is the perfect person to take the reins given his unique background – extremely diverse operational experience and an impressive academic portfolio that includes a doctorate from Scripps. The blend of these two things will help us succeed in the face of the ocean challenges we face as a Navy and as a nation.”

Gallaudet credits his time at Scripps, first advised by oceanographer Jim Simpson, then later by underwater acoustician Christian DeMoustier, for teaching him more than just science.

"Scripps teaches the best ocean science in the world. What better place to learn that?" said Gallaudet. "I really owe it to Scripps for helping me get into this position not only because of the education there, but I actually learned how to be a better naval officer; my advisors were not only technical instructors, they were my mentors."

Gallaudet had already joined the Navy and been commissioned an officer before he received a master’s degree in applied ocean sciences from Scripps in 1991. His wife, the former Caren Ritter, was also a Naval Academy graduate and a master’s recipient from Scripps, having earned her degree in 2001. The two now live in North Beach, Md. with their three children.

Gallaudet previously served with the Naval European Meteorology and Oceanography Center, Rota, Spain; the Naval European Meteorology and Oceanography Detachment, Souda Bay, Greece; the Naval Oceanographic Office, and the staffs of the Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and Oceanographer of the Navy as well as Deputy Oceanographer of the Navy for the Chief of Naval Operations.

When Adm. David Titley became Oceanographer of the Navy in 2009, he was the first doctorate holder in oceanography to hold that position. Now with White’s retirement, Gallaudet becomes one of two oceanography flag officers in the entire Navy, part of a community that includes only about 350 officers. The other flag officer is Rear Adm. Brian Brown, who received a master's degree from Scripps in 1988.

Leaders of the Navy’s Pacific command have noted that the branch now conducts a humanitarian campaign every eight weeks on average. Whether climate change-related natural disasters will accelerate the rate of those responses will depend on information the Navy receives from oceanographic institutions such as Scripps.

"The relationship Scripps has with the Navy is an important one,” said the 48-year-old Gallaudet. “They're instrumental in preparing us, as oceanographers, to know the ocean better than anybody, leading the Navy to have a clear competitive advantage in undersea dominance.”

– Robert Monroe






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