The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade) provides an opportunity of elevated awareness of the need for and value of oceanographic information for decision-making. A principal challenge is how to coalesce diverse independent components into a coherent enterprise that robustly enables and sustains the full ocean observation value chain, from observations through analyses, predictions, access and dissemination, and associated services to informed decision-making and societal benefit. Operational oceanography comprises the efforts contributing value along the ocean observation value chain, regardless of frequency, space, or time scales, including efforts in response to anomalies or incidents. Recognizing underlying, as well as obvious, dependencies on various aspects of the global ocean, the UN Ocean Decade highlights the need for understanding and informed decision-making. Underlying most of the Ocean Decade Challenges and targeted Outcomes are the needs for operational capabilities and capacities to observe and predict relevant ocean components.