By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez

SAN DIEGO – Most Americans rely on weather forecasts to plan their daily routine. The U.S. Navy is no different. With numerous ships, submarines and airplanes deployed in the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s area of operations, sailors stationed at Fleet Weather Center San Diego, make it their primary mission to monitor weather conditions in support of the fleet’s daily operations.

Capt. Rachael Dempsey, a 1991 Oxon Hill High School graduate and native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is one of these sailors serving at the Fleet Weather Center, providing full-spectrum weather services to shore-based commands and afloat naval units.

As a Navy commanding officer, Dempsey is a meteorology and oceanography officer responsible for looking over half the globe to forecast the weather for the forces deployed, not only for their safety, but for tactical reasons as well.

Dempsey credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Upper Marlboro. 

“You have to put effort into things,” said Dempsey. “If you work hard, you can achieve your goals.” 

Additionally, sailors serving with the Fleet Weather Center ensure naval installations, contingency exercises and operations are able to facilitate risk management, resource protection and mission success of fleet, regional and individual unit commanders.

“We are a group of people that come from all over the world, and in one way or another we were brought into the Navy,” said Dempsey. “This can be a challenging environment, and the devoted work of my sailors has helped us achieve our mission in great ways. Their dedication and commitment makes us all stronger.”

Fleet Weather Center San Diego provides U.S. and coalition ship, submarine and aircraft weather forecasts including en route and operating area forecasts. In addition, they deploy certified Strike Group Oceanography Teams and Mobile Environmental Teams from the commands to provide tactical warfighting advantage for strike and amphibious forces afloat through the application of meteorological and oceanographic sciences. 

“Naval Oceanography defines and applies the physical environment for the entire Navy fleet from the bottom of the ocean to the stars,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “There isn’t a plane that flies, a ship or a submarine that gets underway without the sailors and civilians of Naval Oceanography.”

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea. 

Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means Dempsey is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades, according to Navy officials.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Dempsey is most proud of earning the surface warfare qualification.

“Earning that qualification was special for me because I came in before the ocean option program,” said Dempsey. “I was a one-off case after becoming a Meteorological and Oceanographic Officer. I got to go into the Surface Warfare Officer program and had time at sea to get that experience. I learned so much during that tour. It made me a better and smarter person, and a better officer.” 

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Dempsey and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs. 

“After serving for 24 years, I feel very proud to continue a legacy of service,” added Dempsey. “My family has served in every branch of service throughout many generations. It’s important for me to have purpose, and that’s what my service means to me.”

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...