Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vanessa White

GULFPORT, Miss. – Cailtin Slife, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate, is part of Naval Oceanography, ensuring the U.S. Navy maintains freedom from the ocean floor to the stars at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center.

Sailors and civilians working throughout Naval Oceanography collect, measure, and analyze the elements of the physical environment (land, sea, air, space). They synthesize a vast array of oceanographic and meteorological data to produce forecasts and warnings in support of the safety of flight and navigation.

Slife, a 2010 Frederick High School graduate, currently serves at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, headquartered at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Slife earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014 from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a master’s degree in 2017 from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2022.

“I would like to thank my parents,” said Slife. “Specifically, my dad because he got me into science. My family is military, so I looked into joining the government as a scientist. My mom and dad are retired Army, and my sister and brother are active duty.”

“Naval Oceanography operates simultaneously at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of warfare in every theater around the globe,” said Rear Adm. Ron Piret, commanding officer, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “We pride ourselves in our ability to characterize the battle space and predict environmental changes over time. Every ship that sails, every aircraft that takes flight, every submarine that dives beneath the ocean’s surface has to go to sea with the information that Naval Oceanography provides.”

Naval Oceanography personnel demonstrates expertise in Hydrography, Geospatial Information and Services (GIS), datum issues, and Tactical Decision Aids (TDA). They combine knowledge of the operating environment with a thorough understanding of warfighting capabilities to assess and predict environmental impacts to friendly and enemy platforms, sensors, and weapon systems.

As a Navy civilian, Slife is part of a team taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities, and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The ocean is the most basic resource for food, water, and climate control,” said Slife. “We have an opportunity to protect it and act since that is the front line of our country. It also allows us to work with the rest of the world and learn more about it.”

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize the importance of accelerating America’s advantage at sea.

“Maintaining the world’s best Navy is an investment in the security and prosperity of the United States, as well as the stability of our world,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “The U.S. Navy—forward deployed and integrated with all elements of national power—deters conflict, strengthens our alliances and partnerships, and guarantees free and open access to the world’s oceans. As the United States responds to the security environment through integrated deterrence, our Navy must continue to deploy forward and campaign with a ready, capable, combat-credible fleet.”

Slife and the sailors and the civilians they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“I am most proud of getting my Ph.D. because it was a lot of work,” said Slife.

Slife takes pride in serving the country as a Navy civilian.

“Being a government civilian is an opportunity to give back to an organization that provides so much to our country, and it is an opportunity to support people who donate their whole lives to our country,” added Slife.

Naval Oceanography directs and oversees more than 2,500 globally-distributed military and civilian personnel who collect, process, and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to make better decisions, based on assured environmental information, faster than the adversary.

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