United States Naval Research Laboratory
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2010)|
|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. A few of the laboratory's current specialties include plasma physics, space physics, materials science, and tactical electronic warfare. NRL opened in 1923 at the instigation of Thomas Edison, and is currently under the Office 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 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 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 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. 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.
- NRL-Stennis is located at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and specializes in oceanography, marine geology, geophysics, geoacoustics, and geotechnology.
- NRL-Monterey is located on the Naval Postgraduate School campus in Monterey, California, and is dedicated to atmospheric research.
- Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1) is located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, and operates aircraft used as airborne research platforms.
- The Chesapeake Bay Detachment in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland is 168-acre site for research in radar, electronic warfare, optical devices, materials, communications, and fire research. This facility is often used with the Multiple Research Site on Tilghman Island, Maryland just across the Chesapeake Bay.
- The Midway Research Center in Quantico, Virginia, Free Space Antenna Range in Pomonkey, Maryland, and Blossom Point Satellite Tracking and Command Station in Blossom Point, Maryland are used by the Naval Center for Space Technology.
- The Marine Corrosion Facility located on Fleming Key at Naval Air Station Key West in Florida is used by the Center for Corrosion Science & Engineering.
- The ex-USS Shadwell in Mobile Bay, Alabama is used by the Center for Safety and Survivability to develop and test techniques and equipment for shipboard fire fighting.
- NRL operates several synchrotron radiation beamlines and the Extreme-Ultraviolet and X-Ray Calibration Facility at the National Synchrotron Light Source at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.
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. 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). 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.
The NRL, the first modern research institution created within the United States Navy, began operations in 1923.
The Naval Research Laboratory came into existence from an idea that originated from 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." 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.
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.
- 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)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Office of Naval Research
- University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System
- List of auxiliaries of the United States Navy
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- Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1)
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- U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
- The Little Book of Big Achievements (PDF)
- Pushing the Horizon: 75 years of High Stakes Science and Technology at the Naval Research Laboratory (PDF)