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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology
operates or directs one or more Federal Laboratories shall make available sufficient funding . . . to support” technology transfer. The level of funding actually committed to facilitating technology transfer is therefore variable and is one indicator of the Navy’s commitment to accomplish this important goal on a year-to-year basis.
Despite enactment of legislation and programs to encourage and even mandate technology transfer, the defense industry as a whole has not had a high success rate in defense conversion (Naval Research Advisory Committee, 1993). The most successful technology transfer efforts have involved aerostructures, as the needs of the commercial aerospace market are similar to those of the defense market. In areas without such a clear link to defense, there has been less success in transferring technology (Naval Research Advisory Committee, 1993). Most marine industries fall into the latter group. Information about the needs of the private marine sector does not commonly reach the Navy’s primary producer and sponsor of marine R&D, the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Likewise, information about marine technologies currently available and under development at ONR is not adequately conveyed to nonmilitary interests. This lack of two-way communication, matching the “solutions” that potentially exist at ONR with the “problems” of the marine industry in the nonmilitary sector, forms a major impediment to effective technology transfer.
In response to a request from the Office of Naval Research (Appendix A), the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) of the National Research Council (NRC) formed the Committee on Alternative Uses of Naval Technology. The committee was requested to produce a report detailing (1) how ONR now interacts with industry, (2) how those avenues of interaction may be improved, and (3) future areas of technology research that may be appropriate for ONR to pursue, which might have applications to interests outside the Navy. The committee did not discuss specific areas of future basic research for ONR to pursue because the OSB has provided such advice in more than 12 recent reports to ONR (e.g., NRC, 1991, 1992a,b, 1993a,b,c,d,e, 1994). The committee focused its efforts on establishing the future technology needs of a major segment of the nonmilitary, industrial sector. The phrase “ocean science and technology development” is used throughout this report to denote hardware, software, patents (in process and issued), as well as scientific research and resultant knowledge.
Members of the committee have considerable knowledge of marine science and technology issues (Appendix B). The committee invited several ONR researchers, as well as representatives of key marine industries, to present their perspectives on the status of marine research and technology transfer. Three meetings were held to provide a forum for this exchange of information. The first meeting included presentations by ONR personnel regarding marine technologies currently available and under development. The second meeting assembled representatives of several marine industries and agencies to give their views on technology needs in the near future and the current status of ONR technology