FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 29, 2010
By: Office of Naval Research
Corporate Strategic Communications
ARLINGTON, Va. – Distinguished by a rich history of trailblazing research and discovery, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) commemorates its 64th anniversary on Aug. 1.
Established in 1946 as the Department of the Navy’s science and technology provider, ONR was the first federal agency devoted to funding basic research at American universities. Now, with more than six decades of scientific achievements, ONR’s chief of naval research, Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, reflected on some of the organization’s many accomplishments as it continues to invest in and deliver future naval capabilities.
“The Office of Naval Research has made some pretty incredible scientific discoveries and inventions throughout its history,” said Carr, who as chief of naval research leads ONR; ONR Global, the organization’s international arm; and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Navy’s corporate lab.
“Over the decades, ONR has helped to connect science and technology to the warfighter, making sure we always maintain an edge. Advances have spanned the spectrum from directed energy and hypersonics to better protective coatings and paints, and improved learning tools. I am very proud to lead us into an even more exciting future that not only supports our nation’s forces but society at large,” Carr said.
A walk through history illustrates how ONR executed then President Harry S. Truman’s charge to "plan, foster and encourage scientific research in recognition of its paramount importance as related to the maintenance of future naval power, and the preservation of national security.”
During the early 1950s, ONR-sponsored research led to the first molecular beam machine, currently used by doctors in precision surgeries and procedures. In 1960, ONR launched the first U.S. intelligence satellite. That same year, it also funded the historic record-setting 35,800-foot, deep-sea dive of the research vessel Trieste off the coast of Guam.
Building upon its investment in undersea exploration, ONR also funded SEALAB I, II and III, creating experimental habitats to prove humans could exist underwater for extended periods of time. In addition, research at NRL in the 1960s led to the launch of the first GPS satellite into orbit in 1972.
In 1981, ONR funded the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Pressure System, the Navy's first global numerical weather prediction system. Today, the Department of Defense and civilian forecasters use the system for daily weather guidance worldwide.
In 1985, when researchers led an expeditionary team to the wreckage of the Titanic, ONR’s sonar technology was used to detect the ship at a depth of nearly 12,500 feet in the Atlantic Ocean, helping to open a new age in remotely and autonomously piloted underwater vehicles.
Beyond oceanographic exploration, ONR is also focused on meeting emerging challenges. During 2007, ONR’s infantry immersion trainer became fully operational. The trainer creates a virtual environment that heightens a warfighter’s ability to recognize threats and make split-second decisions before deploying to face real combat.
Just one year later in 2008, ONR successfully conducted a record-setting fire of an electromagnetic railgun. The railgun uses high-power electromagnetic energy instead of explosive chemical propellants to launch projectiles farther and faster than any existing gun.
ONR’s exploration into directed energy weapons, include high-power lasers, has been under way since the 1960s. Current directed energy weapons programs include the Free Electron Laser and the Maritime Laser Demonstration system, both of which will provide the capability to fight at the speed of light.
In addition to managing its own technology portfolio, ONR is responsible for policy and direction concerning patents, inventions, trademarks, copyrights and royalty payments (intellectual property) for the Department of the Navy. This year, the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers recognized the Navy’s research patent portfolio as the strongest among all international government agencies. The ranking underscores not only the volume of world-class scientific work, but also the close coordination with ONR’s talented legal team to ensure patents are well structured and valid.
“Technologies being pursued today will enable the naval forces of tomorrow to respond when called and win our nation’s battles,” Carr said. “To achieve that goal, we must continue to build partnerships between the academic, research and acquisition communities. As we look ahead, we are challenging our partners to invest in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) innovators of the future. We must continue to fuel the STEM pipeline if the U.S. wants to maintain its technological edge.”
About the Office of Naval Research
The Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel with additional employees at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
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