The scientific and technical advances in ocean modelling, ocean data assimilation and the ocean observing systems over the past decade have made the grand challenge of ocean forecasting an achievable goal with the implementation of the first generation systems (Dombrowsky et al. 2009). Implementation of these components into a truly operational forecasting system introduces a number of unique constraints that can lead to reduced performance. These practical constraints, such us the limitations in the coverage and quality of critical components of the ocean observing systems in real-time as well as the constraints of completing forecast integrations within a fixed schedule are unavoidable components for any forecast system and require additional strategies to achieve robustness and maximise performance. We begin by defining commonly used terms such as operational and forecasting in this context. We then review the design choices that can be taken with each component of an ocean prediction system when implemented as an operational system to achieve the most reliable performance.
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