Scientific research and technological development applicable to deep-sea operations include techniques for bottom mapping and sub-bottom profiling (as well as existing databases), understanding sediment and its properties, and modeling suspended sediment distribution. Ocean bottom seismometers are available for monitoring seismic activity at potential operating sites. Programs for in situ measurement and modeling of the ocean environment discussed earlier complement these activities.
The broad category of operational systems support highlights technologies that have the potential to improve efficiency and enhance safety and environmental compliance of ongoing or future undersea and surface operations. These technologies would include system monitors and sensors for metering flow using nonobtrusive methods or for detecting leaks or determining status and projecting failure. ONR efforts in the area of condition-based maintenance (i.e., maintenance systems capable of adjusting to real-time system needs as opposed to simply following predetermined schedules) could be applied to reduce operating costs and forecast potentially catastrophic failures. ONR is developing advanced hydrodynamic design methods that can be used to increase efficiency and lower the cost and weight of pumps and pump systems. Other technologies under development include long-lived power and energy sources that can operate in the deep ocean, including both thermal (wick and H2/O2) and electric (rechargeable batteries and fuel cells) systems.
The greatest obstacle to future developments in remote vehicles is clearly the lack of cost-effective power and energy systems that can operate for long periods underwater. ONR breakthroughs in this area would constitute a major contribution to deep-sea technology development.
Technology for marine salvage and related activities can be divided into five areas covering the following capabilities:
Bottom and sub-bottom characterization
Object surveillance, location, and identification
Work environment and life support (including deep-water diving tables)
Greater autonomy, improved training, and simulation
Technologies for bottom and sub-bottom characterization include acoustical