6
Partnerships

The usefulness of partnering mechanisms such as UNOLS to support national oceanographic research objectives.

The University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) brings research scientists, ship operating institutions, and federal and state agencies together to coordinate economical and cost-effective use of the U.S. academic research fleet (see Box 1-1 for the UNOLS mission statement). As such, it provides a partnership mechanism to support national oceanographic research needs. This paradigm is related to other successful science partnerships; for example, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research promotes understanding of the atmosphere through collaboration between federal agencies and academic institutions. This chapter reviews partnership goals and benefits, the Navy business model regarding UNOLS partnering, possibilities of increasing transparency and communication with other agencies and agency divisions, and international partnering facilitated by the UNOLS consortium.

THE PARTNERSHIP MECHANISM

UNOLS ships are operated as shared-use facilities that are equally available to a wide range of science community users. Having a number of operator institutions throughout the country promotes different perspectives, innovation, institutional and state support, and a certain amount of healthy competition (Bash, 2001). The UNOLS structure also



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6 Partnerships The usefulness of partnering mechanisms such as UNOLS to support national oceanographic research objectives. The University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) brings research scientists, ship operating institutions, and federal and state agencies together to coordinate economical and cost-effective use of the U.S. academic research fleet (see Box 1-1 for the UNOLS mission statement). As such, it provides a partnership mechanism to support national oceanographic research needs. This paradigm is related to other successful science partnerships; for example, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research promotes understanding of the atmosphere through collaboration between federal agencies and academic institutions. This chapter reviews partnership goals and benefits, the Navy business model regarding UNOLS partnering, possibilities of increasing transpar- ency and communication with other agencies and agency divisions, and international partnering facilitated by the UNOLS consortium. THE PARTNERSHIP MECHANISM UNOLS ships are operated as shared-use facilities that are equally available to a wide range of science community users. Having a num- ber of operator institutions throughout the country promotes different perspectives, innovation, institutional and state support, and a certain amount of healthy competition (Bash, 2001). The UNOLS structure also 

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6 SCIENCE AT SEA promotes cooperation, through coordinated scheduling and the sharing of best practices from within and beyond the community (Mike Prince, per- sonal communication, 2009). Tasking ocean science research institutions to operate research vessels ensures that the goals of the ship operators and research community are closely aligned. PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS FOR PARTICIPATING FEDERAL AGENCIES Federal agencies bring a variety of assets to the UNOLS consortium. The Navy owns all but one of the UNOLS Global and Ocean class ves - sels, while the National Science Foundation (NSF), academic institutions, and other research entities own the Regional and smaller research ships. Partnering with UNOLS permits federal agencies to do the following (Herr, 2006): • Select the right size ship for each of their science and technology missions • Share transit costs with other agencies and institutions • Extend mission equipment outfitting to multiple agencies • Allow multiple ship missions without chartering commercial vessels The partnership allows each supporting federal agency to access the entire UNOLS fleet with its variety of ship sizes and capabilities, includ - ing the use of larger vessels for deep water and global research and smaller vessels for nearshore and coastal oceanography needs (Office of Naval Research, 2006). The ability to “right size” a research vessel for specific missions can provide significant cost savings. A 2006 Naval Research Advisory Com- mittee (NRAC) case study concluded that the Navy saved $46.3 million between 2001 and 2006 by utilizing the entire UNOLS fleet, rather than using only the Global and Ocean class vessels it owns (Herr, 2006). Other cost savings were realized by sharing transit and equipment costs with other agencies. Sharing transit, maintenance, and equipment costs with NSF through the UNOLS partnership structure reduced the Navy’s costs by $11 million in the same time frame. Agreements between the Navy and NSF have resulted in significant NSF equipment expenditures for Navy-owned ships (including conductivity-temperature-depth sensors [CTDs], Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers [ADCPs], sonars, etc.). The use of UNOLS vessels for multiple ship missions, rather than chartered commercial ships, has also provided savings to the Navy (roughly 30 percent for a Global class size vessel). Leveraging through the UNOLS

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 PARTNERSHIPS partnerships is estimated to have saved the Navy $76.2 million over 30 years (Herr, 2006; Office of Naval Research, 2006). FUTURE PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN FEDERAL AGENCIES NSF Office of Polar Programs The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) funds NSF’s portion of the UNOLS consortium. However, NSF’s Office of Polar Programs (OPP) collaborates with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to operate the Healy in support of Arctic science programs. NSF, USCG, and UNOLS formed a subcommittee within UNOLS, the Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Com - mittee, to provide advice to the USCG in order to facilitate and enhance science aboard the icebreaker fleet.1 OPP also supports research in the Antarctic using a variety of ships (including USCG ships Polar Sea and Polar Star, chartered vessels Palmer and Gould, the Russian ship Krasin, and the Swedish vessel Oden). These vessels serve multiple purposes, supporting oceanographic research and resupplying land-based research stations. The Antarctic vessels are operated by various contractors and agencies (including the USCG) and scheduled through OPP. The future Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) will be a GEO-supported vessel scheduled through UNOLS. It is likely that OPP will be a major source of support for the ARRV. The need for coordination between the high-latitude oceanographic research supported by NSF OPP and that supported by NSF GEO and other agencies is likely to increase as a result of the growing interest in high-latitude research requiring icebreaker or ice-strengthened capa - bilities. This includes research such as the role of sea ice loss in climate change and exploration of polar marine ecosystems, which are national ocean research priorities outlined in the Ocean Research Priorities Plan (Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, 2007). In recent years, there has been some progress toward integration of the polar vessels with the UNOLS fleet. Investigators can view OPP/USCG ship schedules and request these ship resources via the online UNOLS ship scheduling sys- tem. There are opportunities for further integration, such as sharing spe - cialized seagoing technicians and instrumentation between the UNOLS and the OPP/USCG fleets. 1 http://www.unols.org/info/ucharter.html#annexVI

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 SCIENCE AT SEA NOAA The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) participation in the UNOLS partnership differs significantly from that of NSF and the Navy. The NOAA-owned and operated Global class vessel Ronald H. Brown, although not a member of the UNOLS fleet, is scheduled in cooperation with UNOLS. NOAA also uses UNOLS ships to supple- ment their needs for required data collection. While NOAA’s research fleet currently has a capacity of 4800 ship days per year, in 2008 the agency identified the need for a potential additional 13,200 days per year to fulfill its mission requirements (Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, 2008). From 2000 to 2008, NOAA used an average of 538 ship days per year on the UNOLS fleet (data from UNOLS Office, 2009). In those years, UNOLS vessels had an average of 768 ship days per year of unfunded capacity (often called excess capacity), due to agency funding limitations, equip - ment availability, and weather and time constraints (data from UNOLS Office, 2009; UNOLS Fleet Improvement Committee, 2009). Identifying future NOAA missions that can be carried out on ships of the UNOLS fleet would strengthen UNOLS ships schedules and reduce unfunded ship days, increasing the efficiency of the UNOLS fleet. PARTICIPATION IN INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS International Research Ship Operators Meeting and International Marine Technicians Workshops Many of the UNOLS federal agency partners participate in the Inter- national Research Ship Operators’ Meeting (ISOM), an annual meet- ing that promotes discussions to improve services for research at sea, including ship time exchange between countries and updates on national research fleets. The exchange of knowledge, plans, and experience is espe- cially important in an era of decreasing budgets but increasing societal relevance for coastal nations. ISOM also sponsors workshops and work- ing groups, including the International Marine Technicians Workshops (INMARTECH), and ISOM members often participate in the UNOLS Research Vessel Operators Committee and Research Vessel Technical Enhancement Committee meetings. INMARTECH facilitates an international exchange of knowledge and experience between marine technicians from both academe and industry. Specialists are invited to give presentations on selected subjects, and workshop sessions are arranged to foster informal discussions among the approximately 100 participants, including attendees from UNOLS ship operator institutions.

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 PARTNERSHIPS Ocean Facilities Exchange Group and Other Partners The Ocean Facilities Exchange Group (OFEG) is a partnership of six European countries that barters research vessels and major equipment (http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk/ofeg/pages/ofeg/index.php). Much like UNOLS, the goal is to increase efficiency through bartered assets, shared transit costs, and a synchronized annual ship schedule. Although the United States actively barters ship time with several OFEG members (including the United Kingdom), further coordination of UNOLS and OFEG could increase the pool of available ships and increase scheduling efficiency. Additionally, UNOLS could more fully explore the possibilities of trading ship time with countries that are geographically distant (such as Korea, Japan, and India) to increase ship opportunities for U.S. researchers. CONCLUSIONS The UNOLS consortium management structure is sound and is of benefit to research institutions, federal agencies, and state and private interests. The federal agency partnerships that capitalize and support the academic research fleet, particularly between the Navy and NSF, success - fully provide cost savings and asset sharing. However, some U.S. fleet assets, most notably those operated by NSF’s Office of Polar Programs and by NOAA, are not fully integrated with UNOLS. This results in an apparent mismatch between research needs to support national goals and the efficient use of research ship assets, a trend that could continue in the future. NOAA’s future ship time needs could potentially be alleviated by increased use of the UNOLS fleet, and opportunity exists to better coordinate the polar fleet supported and operated by OPP and the USCG with the UNOLS fleet. UNOLS federal agency partners currently participate in international meetings and ship bartering, providing the U.S. research community access to other countries’ oceanographic research assets. Increased coor- dination and integration in the future would strengthen the worldwide community and provide more opportunities to use the UNOLS ship assets efficiently.

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