Brian Connon Joins Saildrone as VP of Ocean Mapping

The former director of the USM Hydrographic Science Research Center, Brian Connon will lead Saildrone’s Ocean Mapping division.

Saildrone is excited to announce the addition of Capt. Brian Connon, US Navy (ret.) as VP of Ocean Mapping. Connon comes to Saildrone from the University of Southern Mississippi where he was director of the Hydrographic Science Research Center. Prior to USM, Connon served 28 years in the US Navy in a variety of positions, including director of the Maritime Safety Office at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, commanding officer of the Navy’s Fleet Survey Team, and superintendent of the US Naval Observatory.

“Delivering a high-quality bathymetric product from an unmanned surface vehicle is a complex procedure, involving not just data collection, but calibration, data processing, and data quality control. Brian’s deep expertise in hydrography and bathymetry will ensure we maintain the highest standards, delivering survey-grade data from our ocean mapping division,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone CEO and founder.

Connon holds master’s degrees in Hydrographic Science from USM and Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and a bachelor’s degree in Geography from The University of South Carolina. As VP of Ocean Mapping, Connon will lead Saildrone’s ocean mapping division, growing our capabilities and infrastructure.

“Ocean mapping is important not only for safety of navigation, but also for protecting our marine resources and understanding how the ocean impacts our lives. Bathymetry is the baseline for everything we do with the ocean, from oil spill response to sustainable fisheries management,” said Connon. “Saildrone will allow us to achieve our goals of mapping the world’s oceans in a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly manner.”

Oceans make up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, but we know more about the topography of the moon and Mars than we do about the ocean floor. However, there are many new initiatives hoping to change that. Seabed 2030 is a UN-backed joint initiative between GEBCO and the Nippon Foundation to produce a definitive map of the world ocean by 2030. In 2019, The White House issued a Memorandum on Ocean Mapping of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Shoreline and Nearshore of Alaska, and in June 2020, the Ocean Science and Technology Subcommittee released the National Strategy for Mapping, Exploring, and Characterizing the US EEZ. 

These initiatives call for the exploration of priority areas and the development and maturation of new technologies to accomplish these goals. Saildrone is answering that call, by marrying our tried and tested autonomous surface vehicles with new multibeam mapping solutions.

“Saildrone is on the verge of becoming the go-to technology for achieving our collective ocean mapping goals. This is a rugged, resilient platform capable of reaching the most remote areas of the ocean under wind power and without risking human health and safety. I’ve spent my career in the Navy and academia, but the opportunity to join Saildrone was too important to pass up. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this team,” he said.

Connon is the editor of the International Hydrographic Review, the journal of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), and a board trustee for The Hydrographic Society of America (THSOA).


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