December 2023

OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast Report

Craig Peterson, Co-Chair OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast, Kenneth Sharp, TPC Co-Chair of OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast

OCEANS      2023- Gulf Coast, “Blue Economy: Locally Sourced, Globally Driven,” was the 4th highly successful OCEANS     ’s Conference assigned to our Gulf Coast that was sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) and the Marine Technology Society (MTS).  It was planned, organized, and executed by the joint Gulf Coast MTS/ IEEE (OES) Local Organizing Committee (LOC), and we are excited to share highlights from the recent OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast conference and expo. With over 120 exhibitors, the event featured cutting-edge technology, innovative solutions, and remarkable marine marvels. Attendees had the opportunity to explore the latest advancements in the field, sparking inspiration and collaboration.  We welcomed over 1500 passionate attendees from around the world who shared their enthusiasm for the deep blue. The event’s success was a testament to the collective dedication and commitment to the world’s oceans.

Hotel Beau Rivage

OCEANS      02 and 09 “Ocean Technology for Our Future: Global and Local Challenges,” were in-person, technically excellent and exceptionally well attended conferences. They set a standard for Gulf Coast OCEANS      Conferences and provided fantastic lessons learned for the Gulf Coast LOC. The OES Beacon Newsletter PDF Archive has valuable highlights on all past OCEANS      Conferences.  At OCEANS      2019 in Seattle, the General Chairs of OCEANS     ’s 2020 Singapore (scheduled in April 2020) and OCEANS      2020 Gulf Coast “VISIONS for the Blue Economy” (scheduled in October 2020), had met and shared the incredible efforts and excitement of their LOC’s and Local communities for their in-person OCEANS     ’s conferences. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for delegates to meet and greet through an in-person conference. The LOC’s of Singapore and the Gulf Coast showed incredible flexibility and joined forces and with IEEE (OES) and MTS leadership,            co hosting      the first ever virtual IEEE OES/MTS OCEANS conference, Global OCEANS 2020: Singapore-U.S. Gulf Coast.  This virtual conference was also unique as it combined two regional OCEANS into a single Global OCEANS. Even though the virtual Global OCEANS 2020: Singapore-U.S. Gulf Coast was deemed an incredible success, both LOC’s recognized that virtual events are not a replacement for the in-person dynamics and collaboration.   The In-person event continues to be valuable to industries across many sectors, but especially the ability to highlight the local community’s capabilities.  With the support of IEEE(OES) and MTS leadership, in-person OCEANS      2023      Gulf Coast and OCEANS      2024      Singapore (OCEANS – Singapore Conference (  ) were assigned.

Mississippi Coast Convention Center

With our theme Blue Economy: Locally Sourced, Globally Driven emphasizing the fact that all our local efforts are integrally linked to the larger world ocean, we recognize that we must all work toward sustainability together. The Mississippi coast is home to a number of U.S. Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offices, many of which are located at Stennis Space Center, and it only makes sense that the LOC invited both to serve as Federal Honorary Co-Chairs for OCEANS 2023. Their acceptance and support had incredible impact on OCEANS           2023      Gulf Coast and started with their welcomes on the OCEANS      2023      Gulf      Coast website:

Naval Oceanography is excited to welcome the breadth of government and civilian sector oceanographic expertise to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for OCEANS      2023. This event will showcase the strong partnership between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Government agencies, Academia, and Industry along the Gulf Coast. Naval Oceanography and this consortium of talented organizations tackle some of the Nation’s toughest challenges, and I look forward to a productive conference.”Admiral Ron Piret, Commander Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

This is an amazing time to be located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast!  OCEANS      2023 in Biloxi, MS will showcase many New Blue Economy opportunities, including the Gulf Blue initiative, the Roger F. Wicker Ocean Enterprise Facility, the U.S. Navy’s Gulf Coast Tech Bridge, the Commercial Engagement of Ocean Technologies (CENOTE) Act capabilities between NOAA and the U.S. Navy, Ocean Aero’s new office building in Gulfport and the Uncrewed Maritime Systems Test and Training Range located in the Gulf of Mexico.  As the Director of NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center, I welcome you to the area and share your excitement that the new Blue Economy presents.” – Dr. William (Bill) Burnett, Director of the National Data Buoy Center

The enthusiasm, expertise, and makeup of the LOC echoed the amazing cooperation National, State, and Local government agencies, Academia, and Industry, and validated the faith that our superb IEEE OES and MTS Liaisons (Jerry Carrol and Zdenka Willis) had in the LOC.  They worked tirelessly after the virtual Global OCEANS      2020 Singapore – Gulf Coast, first to modify the OCEANS      Conferences schedule to fit the Gulf Coast into the schedule without having to wait 5 to 10 years, and then to support our decisions regarding the execution of our theme, to be an IN-PERSON CONFERENCE, only, and to have Two Federal Honorary Co-Chairs.   The LOC General Co     -Chairs and IEEE OES and MTS Liaisons recognized the importance of identifying and developing potential leaders for future Gulf Coast Conferences.   OES: Brandy Armstrong, University of Southern Mississippi and MTS: Katharine Weathers, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, accepted positions as Deputy Co-Chairs and MTS: Clint Edrington, Northern Gulf Institute/Mississippi State University/     NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information and OES: Jane Moorhead, Mississippi State University, accepted leadership positions on the Technical Program Committee with OES: Ken Sharp KMS Oceanic Consultants. Brandy Armstrong and Katherine Weather were involved in every LOC policy decision and represented OCEANS      2023 Gulf Coast at OCEANS      2022 Hampton Roads.  Additionally, they organized the OCEANS      2023 Young Professional Program and Students events. Brandy Armstrong authored the OCEANS      2023 GULF Coast OES Beacon article regarding Young Professionals, Women’s Program, Student Poster Competition and      Ocean Decade Initiative.

Lively OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast Ice Breaker Reception at the Beau Rivage sponsored by Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and Mississippi Development Authority

The OCEANS 2023 Training Program, held on Day One, really delivered a first-class learning experience and delivered a comprehensive day of sessions led by industry experts in project management, cybersecurity awareness, leadership essentials, advanced technology, and interpersonal skills. Each topic was presented with expertise in its respective field. To have or not have an OCEANS      2023 Training Program was not taken lightly by the LOC. After several discussions with the young professionals’ groups of both MTS and IEEE, the LOC decided to provide training for this group (as well as any other attendees wishing the training).  Several discussions took place to determine the need for both soft skills and technical training.  The OCEANS LOC approached the Center for Higher Learning (CHL) at Stennis Space Center, Director Keith Long who compiled a list of training options and a survey sent to our young professionals.  This OCEANS      2023 Training Program developed replaced the normal tutorials at previous OCEANS      Conferences and received great interest and was well attended.

OCEANS 2023 Training Program Check In

The Three OCEANS      2023 Gulf Coast Plenaries were linked to the conference theme, “Blue Economy: Locally Sourced, Globally Driven,” in progressive manner (global, national, local), and by design allowed the LOC to structure each conference day’s events and activities. The attendance for each of the three plenaries was incredible and it is clear that the Plenary      speakers set the tone for the overall conference and helped drive its success!

Plenary – Blue Economy: Global Perspectives.

The opening OCEANS 2023 plenary was exceptional and set the tone for the rest of OCEANS      2023. It featured HON Meredith Berger Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations, and Environment) | U.S. Navy and Nicole LeBoeuf   Assistant Administrator | National Ocean Service, NOAA. These speakers detailed the importance of data collection efforts within their organizations, as well as how the data are used in their various missions. Familiar missions will include climate change, the increasing need for better understanding of the environment supporting global conflicts, solutions to degraded/depleting ocean resources, sustainable coastal development, and understanding our planet’s oceans as well as lesser-known missions such as humanitarian support, search and rescue.

OCEANS 2023 Training Program Check In

Plenary – Blue Economy: National Perspectives.

The Wednesday Plenary featured Dr. Ruth Perry, United Nations Decade of the Ocean U.S. Committee, and Dr. Steven Thur,  NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research . The Speakers brought the global issues to the national level to include initiatives spearheaded by United States agencies and United Nations allies.  They also detailed how their organization’s efforts align with the Blue Economy for sustainability and economic development.

Plenary – Blue Economy: Embrace the Gulf.

This final plenary on Thursday featured  Laura Bowie, Gulf of Mexico Alliance; Hailey Bathurst, Gulf Blue Navigator; Valerie Alley, RESTORE Act (MDEQ); Dr. Jorge Brenner, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System; Dr. James Kendall, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). These Speakers brought the scope of the Blue Economy to the Gulf of Mexico.  Topics included elements of the Blue Economy that take place or are planned for the Gulf Coast region. These programs serve as assets along the U. S. Gulf Coast that support the continued development of the Blue Economy in the region.

Opening OCEANS 2023 plenary speakers

The OCEANS 2023 Exhibit Hall buzzed – all the time! 

The Mississippi Coast Convention Center Exhibit Hall was perfect for our 120 Exhibitors. Not too big and not too small.   The Exhibit Hall was in a state-of-the art facility where all daytime meetings and activities for OCEANS      2023 Gulf Coast took place including Conference lunches and The Exhibitors Reception.  It is ideally located on the beachfront in Biloxi! The fact that it was a short bus trip from the conference hotel made it the perfect venue to keep the 1500 registrants meeting with the Exhibitors during their free time. OCEANS 2023 Innovation Theater was centrally located in the Exhibit Hall and tremendously active with presentations by Saildrone, Teledyne Marine, NOAA, Xylem, Sonardyne and ESRI.

“From the Depths of the Oceans to the Reaches of the Stars” is the theme for the OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast Gala.

Entrance to Exhibit Hall

The gala took place on Wednesday evening, 27 September     , in the ballrooms of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino. What made this gala so different and spectacular? The gala theme was taken from tag lines used by both our Honorary Federal Co-Chairs – the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and the NOAA National Data Buoy Center. Both know, understand, and center their missions around all sorts of data – from the ocean bottom to atmospheric and space weather, and recognize all are important to our planet.

We celebrated this theme with a Fireside Chat featuring two incredible explorers who have visited the extremes of our planet and beyond. We welcomed Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise, a native of Biloxi, MS, whose mission had the world on edge for its return to Earth following numerous challenges during the space flight. Joining him was Retired Navy Captain Barbara Scholley, a diving professional whose career includes expeditions to the USS Monitor and recovery efforts following the attack on the USS Cole. Fred and Barbara answered questions directed at the differences and similarities of their careers, training, and missions. The conversation included their activities in giving back and supporting industry, nonprofit, and educational institutions to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers in similar career paths.

Exhibitors Reception

Technical Sessions, Town Halls/Panels/Workshops

OCEANS      2023 Gulf Coast represented the first resumption of the live/in person only attendance format. Up to eight parallel technical tracks were run during the seven session time tracks:  two on Tuesday afternoon, four Wednesday morning and afternoon, and one on Thursday morning.     The total number of presentations including the student poster competition and general poster sessions was 244 with authors from 24 nations.

Student Poster Competition

In addition to the standard technical tracks, OCEANS     2023 Gulf Coast hosted eight local interest tracks that focused on the rapidly growing blue economy across the maritime technology sector.

The conference also hosted 14 panels and town halls on a variety of maritime technology and workforce development topics that were closely aligned with the technical program.   These topics included:

  • Operational Oceanography
  • Offshore Wind Development
  • Uncrewed Maritime Systems
  • Tech Innovations for EEZ mapping
  • Technological Innovation to Map, Explore, and Characterize the United States EEZ –
  • Ocean Observing Technology
  • Workforce Development
  • Community-Based Ocean Observations
  • NOAA’s Ocean Enterprise
  • Commercializing developing technologies
  • IOOS and Regional/National Collaboration Federal and Port Business Opportunities
  • Maritime Sensing Technologies for U.S. Navy
  • Gliders
  • American Leadership in Marine Technology

Committed Support to the OCEANS Program from related Professional Societies:

  • The Hydrographic Society in America (THSOA)
  • Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
  • Society for Underwater Technology (SUT)

Operational Oceanography  

The final day of OCEANS      2023 Gulf Coast appropriately closed with a focus and Panel on Operational Oceanography  with  Rear Admiral Ronald J. Piret, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command | U..S Navy, and Dr. William Burnett, Director | National Data Buoy Center, as speakers. The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are leaders in operational oceanography with a workforce footprint, a combination of civilian, military, and contractor personnel, spread across the country and around the world. While science and technology are always at the foundation of operational oceanography programs, the mission of each organization provides the purpose, focus, and application. With significant overlap in the collection and application of meteorological and oceanographic data, NMOC and NOAA partner together to support the Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) culminating event to the OCEANS 2023 conference and see it as an opportunity to maintain competitive technical advantage, while also supporting outreach to the broader scientific and academic communities.

Applauded by OES and MTS Presidents and LOC General Chairs

ANTX Demo Day

What’s ANTX?  It’s the Advanced Naval Technology Exercise.  It’s the process by which the Navy and their partners test new technologies in real-world mission scenarios (called vignettes) to see the advantages of integrating that technology permanently into that mission. Conference attendees were shuttled to the Port of Gulfport’s new Roger Wicker Ocean Enterprise Facility.  The University of Southern Mississippi served as host for ANTX results displays.

OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast Co-Chair Special Award 

Highly Successful OCEANS Conferences don’t happen without incredible people. Laurie Jugan the OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast Co-Chair was honored by Admiral Ron Piret and Dr. Bill Burnett with an award for her outstanding and sustained contributions to 4 highly successful OCEANS Gulf Coast Conferences and the marine technology community.




Packed Gala Attendees
Ms. Mary Coakley Munk, Navy Captain (Ret) Scholley, Fred Haise, Rear Adm. Piret (From L to R)
Technical session rooms
Technical Session: Data Information Management
Student Poster Session
Charting the Future: Navigating Uncrewed Maritime Systems Through Regulatory Waters – Panel
ANTX Demo Day Remus Display
Roger Wicker Ocean Enterprise Facility Undersea Equipment/Vehicle Test Pool
OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast Co-Chair, Admiral Piret and Dr Burnett