investment in equipment and want to maximize the return on that investment. They are reluctant to buy new equipment unless there is a need that cannot be satisfied any other way.
The technology needs of these industries are driven by (1) increasing work depths, (2) more stringent inspection requirements, (3) new environmental monitoring requirements, and (4) the need for increased operating efficiency (i.e., greater submerged endurance, better sensor resolution, increased operating speed, and an ability to operate in a wider range of sea conditions).
The majority of the marine industrial sector faces challenges similar to those of the offshore oil and gas industry, fisheries, environmental companies, and equipment and service providers. Ocean science research and technology development that lead to reduced environmental impact of offshore activities, increased efficiency in the workplace, and improved data collection, assimilation, and dissemination would be of value to a wide range of nonmilitary marine users. ONR is a leader in the development of marine technology and could play an important role in providing technology that would produce such benefits. Research and technology development sponsored by ONR could be applied to a broad range of marine industry needs besides the four areas mentioned earlier in this chapter.
For example, an important emerging need in the marine industry, both for the near-term and increasingly for the long-term, is the ability to operate systems remotely at water depths to 3,000 m, for extended periods in a cost-effective manner. Undersea power sources with greater energy and power densities are a major component of these operating systems. The need for remotely operated systems will grow with the increasing depths and costs of oil exploration; its development will greatly affect work vehicles used at depth and the vehicles used to monitor and survey pipelines. ONR 33 directs some of its research toward increasing the energy density of undersea power systems. Increased emphasis on technology transfer in this area could provide large benefits to the commercial sector.
Additional areas of future research with wide applicability outside the Navy may include (1) physics of seismic and acoustic energy interaction with seafloor topography and subsea floor; (2) analysis and modeling of atmospheric processes at a variety of spatial and temporal scales; (3) enhanced systems for shipboard environmental monitoring; (4) improved satellite image analysis; (5) improved modeling of a variety of oceanic processes (e.g., contaminant transport, air-sea interaction); (6) enhanced techniques for waste disposal; (7) corrosion- and biofouling-resistant materials; and (8) improved marine construction designs and techniques.