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Rear Admiral Kohler Tours USNS Pathfinder

by Rebecca Eckhoff, Naval Oceanographic Office Public Affairs
31 October 2016

Rear Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, commander, Naval Information Forces, was welcomed aboard oceanographic survey ship USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60) at Naval Station Norfolk, Oct. 26.

The visit marked the admiral's first opportunity to tour a naval oceanographic vessel since the type command's (TYCOM's) 2014 establishment.

"Pathfinder's Norfolk port visit was a wonderful and rare opportunity to host Admiral Kohler and his staff, as our ships are always forward deployed with no homeport and are rarely stateside," said Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) Commanding Officer Capt. Greg Ireton. "It was a privilege hosting NAVIFOR as our TYCOM and being afforded the opportunity to highlight our capabilities."

Pathfinder is operationally controlled by an all-civilian crew contracted by Military Sealift Command and manned by a military and civilian survey detachment from NAVOCEANO, based at Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. Ireton and Sea Survey Component Leading Chief Petty Officer Daniel Zimmerli provided the admiral with a brief explanation of the ship's oceanographic, hydrographic, and bathymetric capabilities, as well as additional platforms used by NAVOCEANO to collect data on the world's oceans. The data collected and analyzed by NAVOCEANO provides the warfighter the best available knowledge of the maritime battlespace.

Pathfinder's master, Capt. Thomas Pearse-Drance, also provided Kohler with a tour of the bridge and explained the inner workings unique to T-AGS class ships that aid in data collection efforts.

Kohler thanked Ireton and Pearse-Drance, saying, "The crew and ship were fantastic! The Pathfinder, and those like her, are truly vital to our warfighting capabilities."

Kohler was joined by NAVIFOR Deputy Commander Mark Kosnik; Reserve Deputy Commander, Rear Adm. Daniel J. MacDonnell; and NAVIFOR Master Chief Petty Officer Toby A. Ruiz.

Pathfinder is the oldest of the six T-AGS, or Pathfinder Class, ships, and is named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, "Pathfinder of the Seas" and "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology." The ship was delivered to the Navy October 1994, and has since completed more than 200 survey missions.

NAVOCEANO, comprised of approximately 800 military, civilian, and contractor personnel, uses a variety of platforms including ships, aircraft, satellite sensors, buoys, and unmanned underwater vehicles to collect oceanographic and hydrographic data from the world's oceans.

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