Ladner is the 14th Technical director of the Naval Oceanographic Office located at Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Coast.

On Thursday, Rodney “Wade” Ladner, who serves as the Technical Director of the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), spoke with Y’all Politics about his position at NAVOCEANO and discussed his team’s responsibilities and duties.

The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), the largest subordinate command within the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, is located at John C. Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi. NAVOCEANO is responsible for providing oceanographic products and services to all elements of the Department of Defense.

Through his position as the senior civilian at NAVOCEANO, Ladner ensures the technical and long-term programmatic viability of the command, overseeing and directing the development and implementation of new technical approaches to existing processes and products, applying novel operational concepts, and modifying programs to meet new and emerging requirements.

“We provide the U.S. Navy a tactical advantage over our adversaries by giving them detailed information about the ocean,” Ladner said.

“Everything in the ocean is affected by the ocean,” the Technical Director stated. “And having a better understanding of the ocean gives our Navy fleet, especially the submarines, a tactical advantage.”

The Technical Director explained that the U.S. Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command gives the Naval Oceanographic Office the operations to execute. 

Ladner said that their focus is solely Naval Oceanography and added that NAVOCEANO is a fairly large command mostly made up of civilians.

“We have about 750 career civilians here,” Ladner said. “Only a few Naval officers and a couple of enlisted that only work in our Operations Department.”

Ladner said that they operate six ocean survey ships that span 100 meters long or 329 feet wide.

“Three of those [ships] have what we call hydrographic survey launches, which are smaller boats that can be launched and recovered over the side,” Ladner stated. “And then we have a whole bunch of unmanned underwater vehicles that we operate as well.”

He also spoke about the 24/7 Glider Operations Center at NAVOCEANO. Ladner said that at the center, there are pilots who guide gliders in the ocean.

“All of that is done right here from Stennis Space Center,” Ladner continued.

The Technical Director said that their ships are capable of any operational, oceanographic type survey. These surveys include physical oceanography, chemical oceanography, seismic type surveys.

“Predominately mapping the sea floors,” Ladner added.

Technical Director Ladner joined NAVOCEANO in 2001, serving as a technical expert and providing leadership and systems engineering support for the Navigation Department. In 2006, he promoted to Director of the Data Management Division within the Navigation Department. 

Prior to his current position, Ladner served as the Director of NAVOCEANO’s Hydrographic Department from 2015 to 2019 and Deputy Director/Technical Lead of the Hydrographic Department from 2012 to 2015.

Prior to joining NAVOCEANO, Sverdrup Technologies Inc. and Planning System Inc. employed Ladner at Stennis Space Center.