United States Naval Research Laboratory
|Naval Research Laboratory|
Emblem of the NRL
|Type||Research and development|
110 military (2010)
|Part of||Office of Naval Research|
|Commander||CAPT Anthony Ferrari|
|Director of Research||Dr. John A. Montgomery|
The United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is the corporate research laboratory for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps and conducts a program of scientific research and development. NRL opened in 1923 at the instigation of Thomas Edison. In a May 1915 editorial piece in the New York Times Magazine, Edison wrote; "The Government should maintain a great research laboratory... In this could be developed...all the technique of military and naval progression without any vast expense." In 1946, upon the establishment of the Office of Naval Research, NRL was placed under the direction of the Chief of Naval Research. NRL receives no funds directly from the US Federal Government's budget, but instead relies upon research & development grants from other government agencies (e.g. ONR, DARPA, ASD/R&E) for income. NRL's research and development expenditure was approximately $1.2 billion per year as of 2008[update].
The laboratory is divided into four research directorates, one funding directorate, and one executive directorate. All the directorates are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and many have other facilities elsewhere.
At the end of fiscal year 2006, NRL employed 2643 persons - 35 officers, 76 enlisted, and 2532 civilians. In the research staff, there are 806 employees with doctorate degrees, 320 with master's degrees, and 442 with bachelor's degrees.
The four research directorates are:
- The Systems Directorate is responsible for performing a range of activities from basic research through engineering development to expand the operational capabilities of the US Navy. There are four research divisions: Radar, Information Technology, Optical Sciences, and Tactical Electronic Warfare. The Information Technology Division has a world-class information security R&D group, which is where the IETF's IP Security (IPsec) protocols were originally developed. The directorate has locations in Chesapeake Beach, Tilghman Island, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River
- The Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate carries out a range of materials research with the aim of better understanding of the materials in order to develop improved and advanced materials for use by the US Navy. There are seven research divisions: Laboratory for the Structure of Matter, Chemistry, Material Science & Technology, Laboratory for Computational Physics and Fluid Dynamics, Plasma Physics, Electronics Science & Technology, and the Center for Biomolecular Science & Engineering. The directorate has additional locations at Naval Air Station Key West and Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. Additionally, the Directorate also operates the National Synchrotron Light Source at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the test and training platform the ex-USS Shadwell in Alabama.
- The Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate performs research in the fields of acoustics, remote sensing, oceanography, marine geosciences, marine meteorology, and space science. There are six research divisions: Acoustics, Remote Sensing, Oceanography, Marine Geosciences, Marine Meteorology, and Space Science. The directorate has additional locations at Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, and Monterey, California. Additionally, the Oceanography division operates at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi as well as the Extreme-Ultraviolet and X-Ray Calibration Facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.
- The mission of the Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST) is to preserve and enhance a strong space technology base and provide expert assistance in the development and acquisition of space systems for naval missions. The center has additional sites at Pomonkey, Maryland, Blossom Point, Maryland and the Midway Research Center, Virginia. There are two research divisions: Space Systems Development and Spacecraft Engineering.
The two support directorates are:
- The Executive Directorate operations are directed by the Commander of the NRL, who typically is a US Navy Captain. In addition to management functions, the Directorate also manages the Institute for Nanoscience, founded in April 2001 as a multidisciplinary research at the intersections of the fields of materials, electronics and biology. Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, which provides airborne research facilities to NRL as well as other agencies of the US Government, is also run out of the Executive Directorate.
- The Business Operations Directorate provides program management for the business programs which support the scientific directorates of NRL. It provides contracting, financial management and supply expertise to the scientific projects.
The NRL, the first modern research institution created within the United States Navy, began operations in 1923.
Thomas Edison's vision
The Naval Research Laboratory came into existence from an idea that originated from Thomas Edison's published statement in May 1915, "The Government should maintain a great research laboratory... In this could be developed... all the technique of military and naval progression without any vast expense". This statement addressed concerns about World War I in the United States.
Edison then agreed to serve as the head of the Naval Consulting Board that consisted of civilians who had achieved expertise. The focus of the Naval Consulting Board was as advisor to the U.S. Navy pertaining to science and technology. The board brought forward a plan to create a modern facility for the Navy. In 1916 Congress allocated $1.5 million for implementation. However, construction was delayed until 1920 because of the war and internal disagreements within the board.
The Laboratory's two original divisions - Radio and Sound - performed research in the fields of high-frequency radio and underwater sound propagation. They produced communications equipment, direction-finding devices, sonar sets, and perhaps most significant of all, the first practical radar equipment built in the United States. They performed basic research, participating, for example, in the discovery and early exploration of the ionosphere. Moreover, the NRL was able to work gradually toward its goal of becoming a broadly based research facility. By the beginning of World War II, five new divisions had been added: Physical Optics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Mechanics and Electricity, and Internal Communications.
World War II years and growth
Total employment at the NRL jumped from 396 in 1941 to 4400 in 1946, expenditures from $1.7 million to $13.7 million, the number of buildings from 23 to 67, and the number of projects from 200 to about 900. During World War II, scientific activities necessarily were concentrated almost entirely on applied research. New electronics equipment - radio, radar, sonar - was developed. Countermeasures were devised. New lubricants were produced, as were antifouling paints, luminous identification tapes, and a sea marker to help save survivors of disasters at sea. A thermal diffusion process was conceived and used to supply some of the U-235 isotope needed for one of the first atomic bombs. Also, many new devices that developed from booming wartime industry were type tested and then certified as reliable for the Fleet.
As a result of the scientific accomplishments of the war years, the United States emerged into the postwar era determined to consolidate its wartime gains in science and technology and to preserve the working relationship between its armed forces and the scientific community. While the Navy was establishing the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as a liaison with and supporter of basic and applied scientific research, the Navy encouraged NRL to broaden its scope since it was the Navy Department's corporate research laboratory. NRL was placed under the administrative oversight of ONR after ONR was created. A parallel shift of the Laboratory's research emphasis to one of long-range basic and applied investigation in a broad range of the physical sciences.
However, rapid expansion during the war had left NRL improperly structured to address long-term Navy requirements. One major task - neither easily nor rapidly accomplished - was that of reshaping and coordinating research. This was achieved by transforming a group of largely autonomous scientific divisions into a unified institution with a clear mission and a fully coordinated research program. The first attempt at reorganization vested power in an executive committee composed of all the division superintendents. This committee was impracticably large, so in 1949, a civilian director of research was named and given full authority over the program. Positions for associate directors were added in 1954.
Scope of NRL
Since World War II, the areas of study at the Laboratory have included basic research concerning the Navy's environments of earth, sea, sky, and space. Investigations have ranged from monitoring the Sun's behavior, to analyzing marine atmospheric conditions, to measuring parameters of the deep oceans. Detection and communication capabilities have benefited by research that has used new portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, extended ranges to outer space and provided a means of transferring information reliably and securely, even through massive jamming. Submarine habitability, lubricants, shipbuilding materials, firefighting, and the study of sound in the sea have remained primary concerns, to which have been added recent explorations within the fields of virtual reality, superconductivity, biomolecular science and engineering, and nanotechnology. The Laboratory has performed space research - from atmospheric probes with captured V-2 rockets, through the direction of the Vanguard project (America's first satellite program), to inventing and developing the first satellite prototypes of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Today, NRL is the Navy's lead laboratory in space systems research, fire research, tactical electronic warfare, information security, microelectronic devices and artificial intelligence.
In 1992, the previously separate Naval Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NOARL), with centers in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and Monterrey, California, was merged into NRL. NRL now is additionally the lead Navy center for research in ocean and atmospheric sciences, with special strengths in physical oceanography, marine geosciences, ocean acoustics, marine meteorology, and remote oceanic and atmospheric sensing. 
Since World War II, the Laboratory has conducted basic and applied research pertaining to the Navy's environments of earth, sea, sky, space, and cyberspace. Investigations have ranged from monitoring the Sun's behavior, to analyzing marine atmospheric conditions, to measuring parameters of the deep oceans. Detection and communication capabilities have benefited by research that has utilized previously unused portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, extended ranges to outer space, and provided a means of transferring information reliably and securely, even through massive jamming.
Additionally, scientific developments in submarine habitability, synthetic oil and lubricants, shipbuilding materials obtained through research in fracture mechanics, firefighting through the development of Aqueous Film-Forming fire fighting foam (AFFF), and the study of sound in the sea have remained steadfast concerns to naval operations, to which have been added recent explorations within the fields of virtual reality, superconductivity, biomolecular science and engineering, and nanotechnology.[clarification needed]
The Laboratory has performed research into space-from atmospheric probes with captured V-2 rockets, through direction of the Vanguard project (America's first satellite program), invented and developed the first satellite prototypes of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Today, NRL is the Navy's primary laboratory in space systems research, as well as in fire research, tactical electronic warfare, information security microelectronic devices, and artificial intelligence.
NRL has researched the development of gamma-ray radiography and radar, the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph Experiment (LASCO) and Dragon Eye, a robotic airborne sensor system. The laboratory first proposed a nuclear submarine in 1939, and developed over-the-horizon radar in the late 1950s. The details of GRAB 1, deployed by NRL as the nation's first intelligence satellite, were recently declassified. The laboratory is responsible for the identification, friend or foe (IFF) system. In the late 1960s, NRL researched low-temperature physics, achieving for the first time a temperature within one millionth of a degree of absolute zero in 1967. In 1985, two scientists at the laboratory, Herbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karle, won the Nobel Prize for work in molecular structure analysis. The projects developed by the laboratory often become mainstream applications without public awareness of the developer; an example in computer science is onion routing. The Timation system, developed at NRL, provided the basis for the Global Positioning System.
In 2010, the Laboratory employed its resources in researching efforts on new Navy strategic interests. While continuing its programs of basic research that help the Navy anticipate and meet future needs, NRL moved technology from concept to operational use when high-priority, short term needs have arisen-for pathogen detection, lightweight body armor, contaminant transport modeling, and communications interoperability, for example.
- History of radar
- Robert Morris Page one of the main American radar scientists
- Interactive Scenario Builder
- Clementine spacecraft
- National Research Libraries Alliance
- Fleet Electronic Warfare Center (FEWC)
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