Rear Adm. Jonathon White has assumed the title of “oceanographer of the U.S. Navy,” replacing Rear Adm. David Titley who retired in July. Assigned to the staff of the chief of naval operations, White is now head of the Oceanography, Space and Maritime Domain Awareness directorate (OPNAV N2N6E). He also serves as head of the Navy's Positioning, Navigation and Timing directorate and he holds the title “navigator of the Navy.” In addition, White serves as director of the Navy's Task Force on Climate Change, the naval deputy to the National Oceanic and Space Administration, and director of the Office of the DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness.
As the senior oceanographer in the Navy, White advises naval leadership on all issues related to oceanography, meteorology, hydrography, climatology, precise time, and geospatial and celestial referencing. His staff provides policy guidance and resourcing for the operational oceanography program, and he serves as the senior policy advisor for issues relating to national ocean policy and governance.
The operational oceanography program provides naval, joint, and coalition warfighters understanding of the maritime environment to ensure safety and readiness for unencumbered global operations, and it provides timing and reference information to support precision navigation, maneuvering, and targeting.
As navigator of the Navy, White provides policy and requirements guidance to ensure naval forces have state-of-the-practice positioning, navigation and timing capabilities for accurate operational maneuver and optimum weapons employment, enabling a competitive advantage across the full spectrum of naval and joint warfare.
White also assumed the oversight responsibility for the DoD and Navy's maritime domain awareness (MDA) initiatives as director, Office of the DoD Executive Agent for MDA. Under the delegated authority of the secretary of the Navy, he leads a dual-hatted organization focused on the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States.
As the director of Navy Space, White addresses the Navy's requirements for space-based capabilities and analyzes the effectiveness of various proposed or existing solutions to meet those requirements.
Task Force Climate Change addresses the implications of climate change for naval operations and informs policy, strategy, and investment plans. The ultimate goal is to ensure the Navy is ready and capable to meet all mission requirements in the 21st century.
White is the 20th person to hold the title “oceanographer of the Navy” since its inception in 1960. His previous assignment was as commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC), the operational arm of naval oceanography, headquartered at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
White graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in oceanographic technology. After working at sea as a civilian oceanographer on board a seismic survey vessel, he was commissioned through Navy Officer Candidate School in 1983, and assigned as a surface warfare officer to USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) in Mayport, Fla.
White joined the oceanography community in 1987. Since then, he has had operational shore assignments at Jacksonville, Fla., Guam, and Stuttgart, Germany, where his joint duty included maritime operations officer for Special Operations Command Europe, and strike plans officer for U.S. European Command during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo and Serbia.
White’s sea tours include Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 12 as staff meteorology and oceanography officer, tomahawk land-attack missile strike officer, and flag navigator. He completed a Mediterranean deployment on board USS Saratoga (CV 60), and deployed aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) for Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.
In addition to his command tour at CNMOC, White has commanded the Naval Training Meteorology and Oceanography Facility, Pensacola, Fla., and was the 50th superintendent of the United States Naval Observatory. Other milestone leadership tours include serving as executive officer at the Naval Atlantic Meteorology and Oceanography Facility, Jacksonville, Fla., and as executive officer at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey, Calif. He also served on the staff of the Oceanographer of the Navy in Washington, D.C.
White graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., earning a Master of Science degree in meteorology and oceanography.
In November 2007, he assumed duties as chief of staff, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. He was ceremoniously made an honorary chief petty officer and promoted to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in October 2009. Subsequently, he assumed command Nov. 13, 2009.
In August 2012, White was promoted to rear admiral (upper half) and selected to serve as the oceanographer of the Navy.