USS FORT MCHENRY, Gulf of Guinea — Africa Partnership Station (APS) Aerographer's Mates (AG) are collecting weather data on West and Central Africa. APS is an international effort aiming to enhance regional and maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.
AGs are the Navy's meteorological and oceanographic experts. They collect, record and analyze meteorological and oceanographic information, make visual and instrument observations of weather and sea conditions, prepare up-to-date weather maps and oceanographic data for their respective commands, and issue weather forecasts and warnings.
"Our goal is to collect environmental data in the upper atmosphere and below the oceans surface in the Gulf of Guinea to increase the U.S. Navy's weather model performance, helping to produce a more accurate forecast for APS," said Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Ryan McKinney from Strike Group Oceanography Team Norfolk (SGOT-N).
Though there is no way to control the weather, they can make scientific predictions, which help people prepare, by taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
"We also provide a daily weather forecast for safe navigation to the Fort McHenry in support of APS," said McKinney. "Our Aerographer's Mates take hourly observations looking at winds, pressure, air temperature, humidity, and sea state."
AGs work a 12 hour on, 12 hour off shift where they do more than take hourly observations and brief on weather conditions.
"We also take other readings like sea surface and sub-surface temperatures," said McKinney. One way the AGs accomplish this is to send up a radiosonde, an instrument carried by a balloon up through the atmosphere equipped with sensors to measure meteorological variables. Such variables include: pressure, temperature, humidity, and upper-level winds. The balloon is fitted with a radio transmitter for sending this information to the observing station.
"Another instrument we use is the Sippiican MK-2 bathythermograph data acquisition system where we launch a probe into the water, and we collect environmental data below the oceans surface with sensors measuring temperature and depth," McKinney continued.
Africa Partnership Station 2007 is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative, executed by a multi-national staff aboard Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2). Commander Task Group 60.4 and training teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations are embarked on board Fort McHenry to enhance cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in West and Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea on a seven-month deployment.