Corpus Christi Caller Times | Ret. Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney II | June 27, 2017
In building a policy agenda for our nation’s future, the Trump Administration has made “America First” its guiding principle. With that in mind, our federal government must continue to invest in U.S. scientists to explore a resource critical to American strength and prosperity – our oceans.
Why invest in undersea research? That’s easy. We are the greatest maritime nation in history and our national security and economic health are inextricably linked to our unique position in the middle of the world’s ocean system.
In addition, half of U.S. territory is underwater. Put another way, when one counts the U.S. exclusive economic zone — that area seaward from our coastline to about 200 miles — America’s property holding doubles.
But even that resource-rich American property is hardly explored or routinely observed. To understand the dynamics of our submerged world, oceanographic institutions — American institutions — need to explore and observe both close to shore and far out at sea. Close to shore because it holds American resources. Far out at sea because our Navy must dominate there.
Consider the importance of ocean research to the military ships, submarines and Sailors voyaging far and wide in the global ocean on behalf of our national defense. The Navy’s operational superiority relies on our ability to maximize performance in all ocean environments. To achieve that, we must continually advance our knowledge of how the ocean works, and how to take advantage of it. Our adversaries certainly understand this and continue to make significant investments in ocean research and infrastructure.
Mapping the seafloor, for instance, is crucial to ensure safe navigation for submarines in remote or unfriendly parts of the world. Daily temperature variations affect marine life but also bend sound in the sea — and understanding these acoustics is vital to submarine stealth. Predicting internal (underwater) waves and deep ocean currents is critical to protect both submarines and commercial offshore oil operations. This is an investment in American security.
Mapping the bottom and characterizing varying ocean waters in our own exclusive economic zone leads to better fishing decisions, discovery of non-living resources and safer commercial navigation. This is an investment in understanding and the pursuit of America’s assets.
Read the full op-ed here.
Paul G. Gaffney II is a retired Navy vice admiral and former president of the National Defense University and Monmouth University.