For Immediate Release: Oct. 31, 2013
By David Smalley, Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va.- Officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) mark another successful chapter in training new generations of scientists at sea today, as the research vessel Endeavor has returned to port in Narragansett, R.I., after its latest voyage.
As the Navy's science and engineering workforce ages-50 percent will be retirement eligible by 2020-ONR has stressed the importance of providing sea-based experience and training to future scientists, including through the Chief Scientist Training Program, sponsored jointly with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.
"We're training the next generation of sea-going scientists, which is essential for the future of naval research," said Tim Schnoor, a program officer at ONR's Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department. "The training program is great for the Navy and nation, and an invaluable opportunity for graduate and post-doctoral ocean scientists to lead research teams and conduct vital research at sea."
The scientists on R/V Endeavor conducted a range of experiments off the New England coast during the week-long event, including photography and filming of particles at work in the ocean, and analysis of ocean currents that could have a direct impact on the safety and effectiveness of naval operations.
In addition to the research itself, the program trains early-career scientists to manage the extensive workload demanded of chief scientists-those who lead teams of researchers at sea-including: organizing delivery of different research tools to the ship; supervising paperwork such as passports and customs forms for multiple people involved; learning vessel capabilities; and coordinating numerous details of the voyage with the ship's crew.
"This program will help to facilitate years of cutting-edge ocean research-and help ensure that our investments in ocean science are carried out in the most effective, efficient and safe manner possible," said Dr. Andrew McDonnell, assistant professor of oceanography at the University of Alaska, who took part in the voyage.
The effort aligns with the Chief of Naval Operations' Navigation Plan, which stresses the need to develop capabilities for future naval operations.
It also aligns with Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder's support for scientific partnerships as a way to not only help reduce costs, but also share the benefits of multiple intellectual inputs. R/V Endeavor, for example, is based at the University of Rhode Island, but owned by NSF. ONR's six research vessels are also available for the program.
"We get a large payoff for a relatively small investment of time and resources," said Schnoor.
ONR has a long tradition of sponsoring sea-based training and scientific exploration. As far back as October of 1946, mere months after the command was established, 91 lucky science-inclined high school boys were selected for the first Navy Science Cruiser at-sea course.
"This program offers scientists opportunities to test compelling research ideas, work collaboratively and acquire samples critical for developing future oceanographic field programs," said Dr. Clare Reimers, a professor at Oregon State and the program coordinator.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) 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 Lab in Washington, D.C.