Nearly 1,600 attendees, professionals, and students from more than 30 countries were treated to cutting-edge science, technology and innovation at the OCEANS 2022 Hampton Roads Conference and Exposition, Oct. 17 – 20.

OCEANS 2022 converged technical expertise between the U.S. Navy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and various professional organizations, with a region characterized for its significant federal and maritime technological activity.

The conference, entitled “Resilient Coasts: Adapting Today to Secure Tomorrow”, featured plenary speakers and panels, nearly 500 technical paper presentations, a student poster competition and a global network of more than 100 exhibition booths.

Dr. Dan Sternlicht, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) distinguished scientist for littoral sensing technologies, was one of the conference’s general co-chairs.

“OCEANS is the premier marine technology and ocean engineering conference and since 1979, has evolved through joint leadership of the Marine Technology Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Oceanic Engineering Society to serve our defense, commercial, government, and academic constituents,” said Sternlicht. “The growth of our young ocean science professionals is also of highest priority, with the Office of Naval Research supporting the student poster competition. This conference facilitates bringing scientific, research and development, regulatory, policy, innovation, and commercial technologies into industry and public awareness, and fosters good stewardship of the oceans and the Earth’s water resources.”

OCEANS 2022 was also historic as it accomplished several firsts. On Dec. 5, 2017, the United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, to be held from 2021 to 2030, to provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the oceans and ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. Serving as an international forum, OCEANS 2022 was the beginning of that support. Additionally, both the Navy and NASA helped to co-chair this conference in a combined effort with NOAA for the first time ever.

NSWC PCD played a prominent role in Navy representation by providing various support to include committee organization and coordination, providing plenary speakers and panelists, technical session chairpersons, photo support and human resources personnel to speak with the next generation of oceanic scientists and engineers.

Dr. Peter Adair, NSWC PCD technical director and one of the plenary speakers, shared why Panama City brought such a large presence.

“As a Navy Lab, it’s important to attend conferences like OCEANS 22 since we are all about innovation, diversity of thought and learning about different technical perspectives.  We have our internationally recognized experts here so having the ability to foster relationships with our technical peers and bring that shared knowledge back to apply to our mission areas is key, while we also become better recognized as the leader in the littoral battlespace,” said Adair.  “Anecdotally, our representation here has some historical perspective as Panama City hosted the first OCEAN [as it was called then] conference over 50 years ago.”

In 1970, NSWC PCD, known then as the U.S. Navy Mine Defense Laboratory, held the inaugural OCEAN conference in Panama City, Fla., where the Navy Lab’s history was tied to the OCEANS legacy. Ray Toll, OCEANS 2022 co-chair, shared how the Navy impacted the entire event.

“As a retired U.S. Navy captain, I was most proud of how the Navy engaged in this conference. Led by Dr. Marty Irvine [Executive Director, Submarine Forces and OCEANS 2022 honorary chair], Dr. Adair, and Dr. Sternlicht, this unprecedented conference brought the unique skills and intellectual capital of the Navy’s ocean science professionals to Hampton Roads,” said Toll. “NSWC PCD’s involvement brought in the Naval Sea Systems Command network and Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet, combining that with NASA [co-chair Laura Rogers] and NOAA provided a holistic government presence. It really was quite impressive and appreciated by all, including U.S. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.”

Two OCEANS conferences are slated for 2023. OCEANS 2023 Limerick, Ireland, June 5 – 8, and OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast, Miss., September 25 – 28.