UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently hosted the commander of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, presenting an overview of Scripps resources and research that serves the mission of the armed forces.
On Oct. 3, Admiral Cecil Haney visited the Nimitz Marine Facility, where Scripps’ fleet of research vessels is docked. Researchers showed him ocean instrumentation funded by the Office of Naval Research, including autonomous underwater vehicles, acoustic sensors, underwater gliders and other sensors used in science that improves military operations and national security.
The military has announced that the western Pacific Ocean will be the locale of an increased presence as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. In addition, the Navy announced this summer that the Office of Naval Research would be taking steps to accelerate the transition of basic Naval research into tools military personnel can use in combat or other missions.
The Navy’s new region of emphasis is one in which Scripps already has a long history of research and expertise. Scripps hopes to perform much of the basic science that will help the Navy characterize the region, and several researchers have undertaken or plan field projects in the region. Recent examples include a field study concluded in September in which Scripps scientists collaborated with Vietnamese colleagues to better understand dynamics in the Mekong Delta.
“Scripps is well-poised to continue its long history of naval-relevant science in the Pacific,” said Haney. “The institution’s seagoing capability, matched with its top-notch engineers and scientists, serves as a national asset in both the traditional fields of oceanography and earth sciences. It also provides development capabilities for unmanned sensors and platforms that the Pacific Fleet will increasingly be relying upon.”
Officials at Scripps and the Navy noted that the institution supports more than just military missions undertaken in the Pacific. Research contributes to humanitarian efforts and to strategic assessments of political stability within Pacific Rim and southeast Asian countries, as well as to national security globally.
“The Navy faces significant challenges as it protects America’s interests in some of the busiest waters in the world,” said Acting Scripps Director Cathy Constable. “In partnership with the Office of Naval Research, Scripps will continue its long tradition of providing the Navy with information that could give it tactical advantage in a variety of situations.”
– Robert Monroe