Recent changes in the missions of the Navy and Navy-funded laboratories have emphasized fleet and design support at the expense of research in naval hydromechanics.
Budgetary considerations have further restricted the number of researchers and the scope of the research that can be performed at a single location. However, there is still a large body of enthusiasm and intellectual talent, although it is widely dispersed.
Modern means of communication provide new, unexploited opportunities to enhance scientific interactions between geographically separate groups of scientists and engineers. Databases, experimental facilities, libraries, and intellectual talent can be accessed instantaneously and without time-consuming interruptions.
Currently there are no centers of excellence for fundamental research in naval hydromechanics.
ONR should establish an institute for naval hydrodynamics (INH).
The INH should capture the best talents and the largest body of knowledge in hydromechanics from the United States and foreign countries. It should leverage existing funding and ensure a well-coordinated approach to research in hydromechanics.
The INH should be directed by a highly qualified scientific leader. The management style and philosophy should be in tune with the intellectual creativity expected of participants in the INH.
A small central facility should support the INH. This facility should be open to all INH participants.
The form of the center should be carefully determined. One attractive option would be a virtual center that uses distributed assets and extensive Internet communication. The virtual center would havea management committee and a small central supporting entity. The new NASA Astrobiology Institute organized by the NASA/Ames Research Center, the European Research Community on Flow, Turbulence, and Combustion, and the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts are models for virtual centers. Virtual centers could draw upon researchers from anywhere at any time. Although the idea is relatively new and relatively untested, it is very promising, and the committee recommends that it be given serious consideration. Alternatively, the center could be modeled after the jointly managed NASA/Stanford Center for Turbulence Research and the independently managed Institute for Computer Application Science and Engineering, at NASA/Langley.