John Watson, OES Vice-President for OCEANS
When you read this, I will just be signing-off as your OES Vice-President for OCEANS (VPO). As we move into 2023 your new VPO will be Dr. Venugopalan Palliyal of NUS in Singapore – known as Venu to colleagues and friends. My four years as VPO, since Jan 2019, have certainly been momentous. Who could have predicted the onset of COVID and its impact on all our lives, not just its effect on OCEANS? We had only finished with 2019 Seattle when COVID struck an unprepared world and the whole structure of how we deal with and connect with each other changed. This affected the whole world of conferences and symposia; from our point of view, the impact on OCEANS was profound and the concept of “virtual” conferences came to the fore.
The impact of COVID unfortunately meant that we had to revise and reshape the whole concept of OCEANS. In 2020, we lost Singapore and Gulf Coast, and in 2021, Porto and San Diego as stand-alone in-person events. However, in 2020 Singapore and Gulf Coast morphed into one single online GLOBAL meeting. In spite of all the difficulties it was hailed as a success. Following the success of that model, Porto and San Diego did the same thing in 2021. In these events we had to get used to the “virtual” concept of running a conference. We had to get accustomed to all preparatory meetings (e.g., local organizing committees) being held online using a variety of platforms like Zoom, Teams, GoTo Meetings, etc. Live attendance at OCEANS could not take place, so presentations were either given online or with pre-recorded video. However, there were some advantages to the virtual concept, and it is likely that future OCEANS will retain some form of virtual content.
In 2022, both Chennai and Hampton Roads did go ahead more or less as planned, but embracing the “hybrid” concept, where presentations were a mix of in-person and virtual. Because of COVID restrictions in India, this unfortunately meant that the delegates were primarily from India with very few from the rest of the world. Hampton Roads has just finished and once again deemed to be a major step forward.
Moving into 2023, we have Limerick on the west coast of Ireland to look forward to in June, followed by a return to Gulf Coast in September 2023. The Limerick LOC (co-Chairs Daniel Toal and Edin Omerdic) are well ahead in their preparations for what looks like being a memorable conference. The early program looks exciting and, coupled with some traditional Irish hospitality, I think we can anticipate a great conference. We have been to Gulf Coast on several occasions; they are always well-liked and well-attended events, and the 2023 event is likely to be no exception. The co-Chairs are Capt. Craig Paterson and Dr. Laurie Jugan.
But of-course these two 2023 OCEANS, and the ones that follow, are no longer my responsibility and fall under Venu’s remit. So, I would like to wish Venu all the best in his new role, and offer my thanks to all of you who have supported my efforts as OES VP OCEANS. As I have said before, the OCEANS conference is the flagship event in the OES calendar (and also for MTS) and is well-respected the whole world over; and I hope it will continue to be at the forefront of the OCEANS community. It has been an honour for me to serve as OES VP OCEANS.