The symposium was preceded by a littoral war game designed to provide insight into the critical role that oceanography plays in achieving and maintaining battle space dominance. The war game emphasized the impact of decisions forced upon warfare commanders and gave insights about the timing involved in developing environmental assessments and predictions for influencing combat decisions.
The symposium began with several presentations by Navy personnel to set the context for subsequent discussions. Participants were divided into working groups focused on the four emphases of the symposium: harbors and approaches, straits and archipelagoes, the surf zone, and the continental shelf. The working groups summarized their findings in plenary session, emphasizing the present status and future directions of research in each area. A recommendation that emerged from several of the working groups was that physical regions (e.g., estuaries and straits) should be categorized in standard classification systems so that the research results from accessible regions can be extrapolated during combat situations to relatively unstudied environments in the inaccessible territorial waters of hostile nations.
An intriguing proposal that emerged from the symposium concerned the conduct of one or more field experiments in the littoral zone, much like the open ocean measurements conducted in the mid-Atlantic Ocean during the 1970s. These experiments would include observations and modeling of coastal marine, atmospheric, and land environments. Such exercises could be used to transfer academic capabilities and expertise to the applied and operational communities supporting littoral warfare.
The Harbors and Approaches Working Group discussed the information needs, research directions, and potential technological developments related to littoral warfare in estuarine areas. The discussions of the working group focused on three scientific topics: tides and currents, acoustic and electrical properties of the water and the sediment, and the transport of materials and other properties having scalar distribution behavior. The working group recommended the development of a classification system for estuaries, based on hydrodynamic properties, that will allow simplified prediction of warfare-relevant environmental characteristics from a few measured parameters.
The Straits and Archipelagoes Working Group recommended that a number of issues be addressed as the Navy prepares for future littoral warfare. First, like the previous working group, they recommended that a classification system be developed for the straits of the world. Existing information about straits should be compiled and published for scientific review. Process-oriented studies of straits must be designed to understand the key processes that control flow, temperature,