The Department of the Navy maintains a vigorous science and technology (S&T) research program in those areas that are critically important to ensuring U.S. naval superiority in the maritime environment. A number of these areas depend largely on sustained Navy Department investments for their health, strength, and growth. One such area is naval hydromechanics, that is, the study of the hydrodynamic and hydroacoustic performance of Navy ships, submarines, underwater vehicles, and weapons. A fundamental understanding of naval hydromechanics provides direct benefits to naval warfighting capabilities through improvements in the speed, maneuverability, and stealth of naval platforms and weapons. This level of understanding requires the ability to predict complex phenomena, including surface and internal wave wakes, turbulent flows around ships and control surfaces, the performance of propulsors, sea-surface interactions, and associated hydroacoustics. This ability, in turn, stems from the knowledge gained from traditional experiments in towing tanks, from at-sea evaluations, and, increasingly, from computational fluid dynamics.
Historically, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has promoted the world leadership of the United States in naval hydromechanics by sponsoring a research program focused on long-term S&T problems of interest to the Department of the Navy, by maintaining a pipeline of new scientists and engineers, and by developing products that ensure naval superiority. At the request of ONR, the National Research Council, under the auspices of the Naval Studies Board, conducted an assessment of S&T research in the area of naval hydromechanics. The Committee for Naval Hydromechanics Science and Technology was appointed to carry out the following tasks during this study: assess the Navy's research effort in the area of hydromechanics, identify non-Navy-sponsored research and development efforts that might facilitate progress in the area, and provide recommendations on how the scope of the Navy's research program should be focused to meet future objectives. Attention was given to research efforts in the commercial sector as well as international research efforts, and to the potential of cooperative efforts.