Captain Van Gurley Retires from Naval Oceanography Command
Capt. John "Van" Gurley retired from the U.S. Navy on July 12 in a traditional Navy ceremony at Stennis Space Center after 26 years of active duty service.
A native of Orlando, Fla., and Mississippi Coast resident for nearly the past decade, Gurley most recently commanded the Naval Oceanography Operations Command (NOOC) at Stennis Space Center until a change of command immediately prior to his retirement ceremony.
During the change of command, Rear Adm. Brian Brown, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, hailed Gurley's command of the NOOC, saying his "strategic vision and operational expertise" propelled the organization to "new levels of excellence."
Retired Rear Adm. David Titley, prior Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, served as guest speaker for the retirement ceremony. He praised Gurley's ability to think strategically and overcome challenges, as well as the lasting impact of his career.
"He has not only been part of the Navy, but shaped the Navy," Titley said. "I decided early on, the more times I can have Van work for me, the better off I'll be."
Originally a submarine warfare officer, Gurley sered at sea in the Pacific on USS La Jolla before becoming an oceanography officer in 1992. As a Navy oceanographer, he served in a variety of seagoing and shore-based tours, including deployed operations in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Arabian Gulf theaters.
His prior leadership tours include command of the Naval Oceanography Anti-Submarine Warfare Center at Stennis Space Center as its first commanding officer, and officer-in-charge of the Naval European Meteorology and Oceanography Detachment in Naples, Italy. Other shore assignments include executive assistant for the Oceanographer of the Navy in Washington, D.C.; and special assistant on the personal staff of Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.
In his remarks, Gurley looked back on a career he "couldn't have imagined," and called the Navy the passion of his life for the past 26 years. He said he will miss "the teamwork, the commitment to the mission, seeing Sailors exceed all expectations, and the close Navy family."
He also thanked his wife, Kim, who has taught kindergarten at East and South Hancock Elementary Schools since 2004, and his sons Kyle, Kevin and Nathan. The Gurleys will be relocating to the Washington, D.C., area where he will join Metron Scientific Solutions as a senior manager.
NOOC is the operational arm for Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, overseeing seven subordinate commands, including more than 1,100 Sailors and civilians, ranging from anti-submarine warfare commands in Mississippi and Japan, to meteorology support in San Diego and Norfolk. Located at Stennis Space Center, Miss., it provides operational Naval Oceanography support to the fleet, aligned through nine warfare areas.