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Review of ONR Technology Research Programs

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is divided into program codes, each with a separate research focus (Figure 1). Those with particular relevance to ocean science and technology development are ONR 32 (Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Science and Technology), ONR 33 (Engineering Materials and Physical Science and Technology), and ONR 34 (Personnel Optimization and Biomolecular Science and Technology). ONR 36 (Industrial Programs) is responsible for technology transfer for all ONR program codes. ONR also funds activities of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Programs at NRL are similarly divided; a program of particular relevance to the marine industry is NRL 7000 (Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Space Technology).

Most ONR-sponsored ocean research and technology development is conducted within the Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Science and Technology Department (ONR 32). The mission of ONR 32 is to provide the scientific and technological base that will maintain and expand the operational superiority of the Navy and the Marine Corps in the ocean, atmosphere, and utilization of space. ONR regards this core area as helping the Navy to “win the environment.” Conducting research and developing technology to help U.S. naval forces obtain a tactical operational advantage is a major focus for ONR. This effort includes all areas of ocean science and engineering, from sensing and systems to modeling and prediction.

Divisions within ONR have recently been vertically integrated to facilitate the transition of basic and applied research from the “lab bench,” through exploratory and advanced development to the “marketplace,” which for the Navy is the fleet. ONR is expanding its efforts to involve science and technology team



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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology 2 Review of ONR Technology Research Programs The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is divided into program codes, each with a separate research focus (Figure 1). Those with particular relevance to ocean science and technology development are ONR 32 (Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Science and Technology), ONR 33 (Engineering Materials and Physical Science and Technology), and ONR 34 (Personnel Optimization and Biomolecular Science and Technology). ONR 36 (Industrial Programs) is responsible for technology transfer for all ONR program codes. ONR also funds activities of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Programs at NRL are similarly divided; a program of particular relevance to the marine industry is NRL 7000 (Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Space Technology). Most ONR-sponsored ocean research and technology development is conducted within the Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Science and Technology Department (ONR 32). The mission of ONR 32 is to provide the scientific and technological base that will maintain and expand the operational superiority of the Navy and the Marine Corps in the ocean, atmosphere, and utilization of space. ONR regards this core area as helping the Navy to “win the environment.” Conducting research and developing technology to help U.S. naval forces obtain a tactical operational advantage is a major focus for ONR. This effort includes all areas of ocean science and engineering, from sensing and systems to modeling and prediction. Divisions within ONR have recently been vertically integrated to facilitate the transition of basic and applied research from the “lab bench,” through exploratory and advanced development to the “marketplace,” which for the Navy is the fleet. ONR is expanding its efforts to involve science and technology team

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology FIGURE 1 Organizational chart for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Source: Office of Naval Research.

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology leaders in the operational exercises of the fleet, providing an opportunity for ONR staff to gain a better understanding of the needs of their primary customers. This is also facilitated by teaming the federal funding category 6.3 (advanced development) managers with the 6.1 (basic and applied research) and 6.2 (exploratory development) managers. ONR develops many products for the Navy that have potential nonmilitary application. These products include tangible technology as well as information contained in databases and interpreted through models. ONR-supported research and development activities have resulted in a large amount of tangible technology and information, including instruments and sensors, platforms, systems engineering methods, information technology, algorithms, models and simulations, and databases, developed by ONR 32 (Steve Ramberg, ONR, personal communication, 1995; see Table D1 Table D2 Table D3 Table D4 Table D5 in Appendix D). A number of key areas with high potential for dual-use applications are described in more detail in subsequent sections. These include areas such as remote sensing, computer modeling, deep-sea technology, salvage and construction methodologies, and coatings and materials development. REMOTE SENSING Remote sensing R&D at ONR 32 is housed mainly in the Sensing and Systems Division (321), but aspects are also addressed in the Modeling and Prediction Division (322). “Sensing” includes detection of an acoustical, optical, chemical, physical, or biological parameter of interest. “Remote” sensing is often associated with satellites or aircraft, but also includes the use of underwater acoustics. Remote sensing refers to the technology that detects the signal, as well as the methodology that processes and models the signal. The Sensing and Systems Division (321) focuses on technology development in the following areas: Ocean acoustics Space and remote sensing Sensing-information dominance Coastal dynamics Sensors, sources, and arrays Ocean engineering and marine systems Undersea signal processing Littoral surveillance and systems Tactical sensing support The Modeling and Prediction Division (322) also supports a broad agenda of scientific inquiry and technology development in areas of environmental optics, physical oceanography, biological and chemical oceanography, ocean modeling

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology and prediction, atmospheric modeling and prediction, high-latitude dynamics, tactical environmental support, marine geology and geophysics, and marine meteorology. Acoustic modeling and tomography/imaging play important roles in the development of active and passive systems for mine and antisubmarine warfare. Electro-optical and electromagnetic (EO/EM) clutter models, automatic target recognition, and techniques related to adapting space sensor information are used in algorithms for environmental models. Nonacoustic undersea sensors and related signal processors are under development for application to undersea, mine, and expeditionary warfare. New technology related to ship tracking is being developed. Coastal ocean models and enhanced bathymetric mapping techniques aid in coastal operations and navigation. New acoustic sources and arrays allow better environmental characterization and target recognition. The development of specialized research platforms, including remotely operated vehicles, should result in increased capabilities in littoral areas. The development of technologies for undersea and shallow water acoustic sensors will aid in tactical data acquisition, offensive mining, mine countermeasures, and explosive ordnance disposal. New optical technologies are being used to examine ocean surface and marine boundary layers for three-dimensional modeling of the dynamics of marine populations, fate and transport of pollutants, and natural environmental changes in the ocean. COMPUTER MODELING ONR, primarily through activities at NRL, has developed an impressive ability to provide real-time predictions for the Navy using global, regional, and (to a lesser extent) coastal modeling. Predictions using high-resolution, coupled atmospheric-ocean models are being developed. These models can predict circulation and atmospheric conditions in selected local areas (e.g., off the west coast of the United States). They make use of the most powerful computational platforms available. A wealth of software has been developed to (1) visualize model predictions, (2) manage large volumes of data, (3) integrate the data with the model predictions (e.g., data assimilation), (4) efficiently transfer and tailor the data to the user’s needs, and (5) verify the model predictions. These integrated modeling and data management systems represent the state of the art. The primary academic application for atmospheric and oceanic circulation models involves research into global and regional ocean circulation and meteorology. Research into air-sea interaction and its influence on long-term climatic change represents another important academic application. In the commercial sector the most important user groups include environmental and engineering consulting companies (e.g., firms interested in pollutant transport and fate modeling, circulation, physical forcing on offshore structures, dispersion of routine discharges, and disposal of wastes at sea), data brokers and value-added suppliers

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology (e.g., data services that provide either prepackaged or customized data products, ship routing, and environmental forecasting for offshore operations), and firms that specialize in exploration, development, and transportation of offshore oil, gas, and minerals. DEEP-SEA TECHNOLOGY ONR has a long history of research and technology development for Navy application in the deep-sea environment. The primary commercial interests in this area are involved in offshore oil and gas exploration and production as well as pipeline operation and maintenance. Deep-sea mining is another potential application; activity in this area has been somewhat sporadic as the presently available technology has not made deep-sea resource development economically viable. The discussion below should be considered only a sampling of the available and emerging science and technology at ONR that is applicable for transfer to deep-sea commercial interests. ONR science and technology applicable to non-military deep-sea operations are included in the following categories: Surface/subsurface seakeeping Fabrication techniques and materials Remote vehicle design and operation Environmental characterization Operational systems support Surface/subsurface Seakeeping For the design of ships and other seagoing platforms, ONR has conducted extensive research and developed a considerable body of technology in the area of naval architecture. Available data and models relate wind, waves, and hydrodynamic flow to forcing functions applicable to structural design and analysis. Techniques for the design of deep moorings with chains and cables have been developed. Some of the available and emerging ideas include mooring deployment methods, innovative mooring designs (e.g., S-tether), expendable moorings, slack cable dynamics, and models for cable/riser strumming. ONR has also developed methods for obtaining and maintaining a precise position in the water column or on the bottom by using remote/portable tracking systems. Fabrication Techniques and Materials The construction of structures and piping for the Navy is done within ship and submarine construction programs. The Navy has developed a significant expertise in welding, particularly of high-strength materials, and materials testing

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology in support of these programs. The Navy is exploring innovative methods to reduce weight and lower cost; these methods include the use of high-powered lasers for welding and cutting and for application of surface coatings. One such application on Navy ships involves fabrication of corrugated steel panels (termed LASCOR) that provide high strength-to-weight ratios and significant fire retardation properties. Techniques under development include in situ repair and fabrication using fiber-optic delivery of laser energy. The science and technology efforts on advanced composite materials for marine applications are aimed at high-strength materials that are lightweight and damage resistant. Through considerable research into marine corrosion and biofouling, the Navy has also developed new mitigation techniques (see Table D6 and Table D7 in Appendix D) that could benefit the entire marine industry. Remote Vehicle Design and Operation With its strong background in undersea vehicle design, ONR has under way numerous efforts applicable to the development of deep submergence and remotely operated or piloted vehicles. Vehicles such as the MEDIA/JASON family and the ALVIN are examples. Additional programs support a new group of vehicles called AUVs (autonomous undersea vehicles). These new designs would be untethered, remotely controlled, autonomously programmed vehicles, with both navigational and robotic capacities. These and similar technological developments are potentially exploitable by the commercial marketplace: Sensors, including acoustic, laser, and magnetic systems Structures, including remotely operated vehicle (ROV) designs and methods, materials, and handling Cabling/communications, including fiber-optic tow cables and acoustic communications Autopilot/control, including laser gyros, fiber-optic sensors, and motion compensator systems Power/energy systems, including energy-efficient thermal and electrical systems such as “wick” combustors and lithium-seawater batteries Thrusters/propulsors, including advanced, significantly quieter and more efficient thruster designs Robotics, including manipulators, tools (e.g., rock drills), nonlinear control systems, adaptive sampling, and mini-winches Data assimilation/display, including data fusion techniques and virtual displays Simulators, including distributed and interactive Simulators for design and training

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology Environmental Characterization 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. Operational Systems Support 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. OCEAN SALVAGE OPERATIONS 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) Work systems Greater autonomy, improved training, and simulation Technologies for bottom and sub-bottom characterization include acoustical

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology systems and optical systems configured for side-scan and wide-swath mapping. Other technologies for object surveillance, location, and identification use monochromatic laser-line scanners, synthetic aperture sonar, and magnetic anomaly detection to identify mine-like objects. Research into increasing efficiency in the work environment includes underwater light propagation and miniaturization of acoustic sensors for hand-held units. Underwater life-support systems under development include self-contained breathing apparatus and rebreathing systems. Work systems currently used in the underwater workplace may be improved with research into fiber-optic lines for high-bandwidth data transmission, special couplers and optical signal processors for undersea use, and diver work tools that are powered by seawater and are resistant to corrosion and contamination. ONR is developing high-speed data communications for autonomous vehicle and other undersea naval applications and small, efficient undersea power sources. Real-time feedback control systems that adapt both to a changing environment and to knowledge “learned” in real time will provide efficient use of resources and immediate data collection. Simulators that operate in tandem over networks are in use for training and for design performance evaluation of new concepts. As simulations become more complex and the amount of required common information grows for linked simulations (e.g., background weather linked to a navigational simulator), the need for standards of intersimulator control becomes more critical. Increasingly accurate and fast replication of complex situations in “virtual environments,” possibly by linked simulators, will provide a basis for comprehensive training and mission rehearsal in the future. This technology could be of value to any company interested in underwater construction and repair (e.g., oil and gas platform construction, shipbuilding, submersible development). ONR has made no formal effort to inform these industries of the opportunities for technology transfer and the benefits it represents. The committee concluded, based on the considerable list of technological developments provided by ONR staff (Appendix D) and the apparent lack of involvement of marine industry representatives with ONR, that the amount of technology available far outweighs the amount successfully transferred. COATINGS AND MATERIALS The annual costs to the Navy for biological fouling and corrosion are $1 billion and $2 billion, respectively. To combat these two problems, ONR sponsors research on corrosion- and fouling-resistant coatings at NRL and several research universities. Many such coatings developed at NRL have recently seen wider use by the fleet. This trend should continue, especially given the increasing environmental restrictions on the use of certain, more traditional, coatings and coating solvents that may contain organotin compounds, chromates, or lead.

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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology The amount of transferable technology in the coatings area (see Table D6 and Table D7 in Appendix D), though already significant, is likely to increase because of regulatory constraints and the high-quality research supported by ONR. ONR also supports research on corrosion inhibitors and anodic protection (passivity) at NRL and several universities. Several additional projects sponsored through ONR’s Small Business Innovation Research program involve possible sensor technology for detecting various forms of localized corrosion in marine environments. The potential for technology transfer should increase in the future because of (1) the environmental concerns mentioned above (e.g., how Navy activities affect the environment or workplace), and (2) the Navy’s continued desire to prolong the life of ship systems in the extreme conditions of the marine environment. The high-quality, scientific research and the technology development supported by ONR are an important component of the Navy’s efforts to maintain combat readiness and tactical advantage. The committee recognizes that R&D supported by ONR is of vital importance for fleet effectiveness and national defense. Many of the marine research efforts described above, and the expertise they represent, do not exist outside ONR-supported programs. It is, therefore, unfortunate that few of the products discussed thus far have been successfully transferred to the nonmilitary sector. Much of the value has yet to be discovered by the commercial user. Tangible products are generally the first to be transferred, although slowly. Despite an apparent broadening of customer need for hardware and for interpreted information, there is no formal mechanism in place to transfer models and information to users outside the defense industry.

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