National Naval Responsibility Initiative

The Navy and Marine Corps operate on—and above, under and from—the sea. The maritime environment extends from the sea floor to space and includes the land battlespace that is reached from the sea. It is complex and challenging, and it makes Naval operations inherently difficult and dangerous even under the best conditions. The Department of Navy (DoN) has therefore historically placed great emphasis on maintaining a vigorous science and technology program in those areas where research is critically important to maintaining naval superiority.

Many of those areas, uniquely important to the Navy and Marine Corps, are simply not addressed by research investments from the other Services, or for that matter from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, other federal research establishments or even private industry. This means that the health, strength and growth of our scientific and technical capabilities in those fields depend upon the DoN.

On behalf of the DoN, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) must ensure continuing U.S. leadership in these vitally important scientific and technical disciplines. It does so through research, recruitment and education, all done with a view to sustaining an adequate base of talent and the critical infrastructure necessary to carry out research and experimentation.

How does DoN determine its National Responsibilities?

In consultation with experts drawn from the National Academies and elsewhere, ONR identifies National Naval Responsibilities. ONR looks at various scientific fields and assesses:

  • The scope of naval responsibility
  • Funding and funding trends
  • The scope, degree, stability and trend of non-Naval funding
  • The scientific and technological performer base—in academia, government and industry
  • The scientific and technological infrastructure
  • The scientific and technological knowledge-base—including graduate and post-doctoral programs in the area
  • The prospects of integration with and transition to engineering development and acquisition programs.

What does DoN do to meet its National Responsibilities?

Above all, it seeks to keep the field healthy by giving it stability. ONR finds relevant programs and allocates resources to them. It keeps key areas of basic and applied research strong, and it balances theoretical, empirical and field work to sustain a research infrastructure. It actively seeks to attract talented investigators to the field through civilian and military fellowships, and by supporting entry-level faculty. And finally the ONR establishes centers, real and virtual, of integrated research when appropriate.

What are the National Naval Responsibility Programs?

ONR-approved National Naval Responsibility initiatives include:

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