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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
items and $22.9 million for all other categories. For six of the eight years the program had separate funds for operational support of facilities and these too were divided between oceanographic ($9.1 million) and all other ($5.3 million). It was a program of considerable significance for those years, and to its everlasting credit it provided the first block grant (fiscal year 1959) for ship operations support, as a format for future ship support. In spite of major difficulties in adapting the old ship for biological cruises, the Anton Brunn served well for two years in the Indian Ocean and during a third year off the west coast of South America. The Eastward gave biologists an opportunity to learn oceangoing techniques and to work effectively with other disciplines. With its interinstitutional programs, Eastward could be said to have led the way toward the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS). And finally, Alpha Helix managed to have a second career as a general purpose ship for the University of Alaska.
In 1968 further consolidations were needed to create a better structure for ocean sciences inside NSF. It is of interest to note, however, that ocean-related activities were scattered far more widely and variously among the agencies around town. Congressional cries for a more coordinated effort and a single or predominant agency culminated in passage of the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act of 1966, which established yet another council and a Commission on Marine Sciences, Engineering and Resources, the Stratton Commission.
The January 1969 report from this study group recommended the formation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and, among many other items, that a small group of (academic) institutions be designated by the federal government as University-National Laboratories (UNLs) and be equipped to undertake major marine science with broad continuing support. Also, support for these UNLs should not preclude support for other existing institutions. Understandably this recommendation set off wild hopes, fears, and expectations among the academic oceanographic institutions (see paper by John Byrne and Bob Dinsmore, this volume). Would there truly be substantial sustaining support for a few? And what would happen to all the others?
The debate about how to respond to the report was underway in October 1969, when William McElroy, who became the third NSF Director in July, set in motion a major reorganization of NSF based on provisions of the National Science Foundation Act of 1968. Four assistant directorships were established: Research, Education, Institutional Programs, and National and International Programs. The latter became the home of Antarctic Programs, International Decade of Ocean Exploration, and Oceanographic Facilities and Support (OFS) among others. OFS became the site for developing the UNOLS concept, which derived from the commission report's UNLs. UNOLS stands for University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, as you know, and it attempts to achieve some of the goals set forth by the Stratton Commission.
Early in the UNOLS debate while Scripps still clung firmly to the hope of achieving national laboratory status, Paul Fye at WHOI read the handwriting on the wall and decided to take a lead position with respect to whatever this UNOLS thing was going to become. He lent Art Maxwell of his staff to the planning process and recruited Capt. Robertson Dinsmore, then retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard, as a member of WHOI's facilities operations. Art Maxwell had been a participant on Dick Bader's facilities panel; Bob Dinsmore had spent his last Coast Guard tour in Washington on the oceanographic scene. Thus, when UNOLS became a reality, Paul Fye was in position to host the executive offices and offer Bob Dinsmore as first executive secretary. He wisely declined federal support for Bob's salary, saying the executive secretary of UNOLS should belong to the community. It was Bob who put UNOLS together as an operating organization. His knowledge of ships, oceanography, and above all the Washington scene, was invaluable to the process.
I leave the rest of the NSF organization story to Sandra Toye and the UNOLS story to John Byrne and Bob Dinsmore.