Executive Summary

In this report, naval hydromechanics is defined as the study of both the hydrodynamic and hydroacoustic performance of naval ships, submarines, underwater vehicles, and weapons. For brevity, the report often uses just the term “hydromechanics,” but the reader should clearly understand that this includes hydroacoustics, which is of unique importance to the Navy for reasons that are explained herein. During the Cold War, the Department of the Navy benefited greatly from a steady flow of new ideas in naval hydromechanics. The new ideas generated from research sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and research in the Department of the Navy research centers were incorporated into platforms and weapons to improve their speed, maneuverability, and stealth. Continued advances in naval systems can be expected from more recent, current, and future research in hydromechanics. These advances should enable faster, more agile, and stealthier platforms and weapons suitable for operation in both the littorals and the deep ocean.

Because ship and submarine hydromechanics are so specialized, they are not priority areas for other agencies, nor are they the focus of industrial research efforts. Thus the Department of the Navy must provide the necessary support if it wishes to ensure that U.S. naval forces always benefit from superior technology. Accordingly, the committee recommends as follows:

  • To enable the Department of the Navy to maintain superiority in naval hydromechanics and to allow the necessary resources to be devoted to this aim, ONR should designate naval hydromechanics as a National Naval need.1

The committee is concerned that ONR support for research in ship and submarine hydromechanics and, in turn, the output of new ideas and technology have declined over the past decade. The current

1  

As stated by Fred E. Saalfeld to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), National Naval Programs (now called National Naval Needs) are those science and technology areas that are uniquely important to the naval forces and whose health depends on ONR investment. See the preface for additional discussion.



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An Assessment of Naval Hydromechanics Science and Technology Executive Summary In this report, naval hydromechanics is defined as the study of both the hydrodynamic and hydroacoustic performance of naval ships, submarines, underwater vehicles, and weapons. For brevity, the report often uses just the term “hydromechanics,” but the reader should clearly understand that this includes hydroacoustics, which is of unique importance to the Navy for reasons that are explained herein. During the Cold War, the Department of the Navy benefited greatly from a steady flow of new ideas in naval hydromechanics. The new ideas generated from research sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and research in the Department of the Navy research centers were incorporated into platforms and weapons to improve their speed, maneuverability, and stealth. Continued advances in naval systems can be expected from more recent, current, and future research in hydromechanics. These advances should enable faster, more agile, and stealthier platforms and weapons suitable for operation in both the littorals and the deep ocean. Because ship and submarine hydromechanics are so specialized, they are not priority areas for other agencies, nor are they the focus of industrial research efforts. Thus the Department of the Navy must provide the necessary support if it wishes to ensure that U.S. naval forces always benefit from superior technology. Accordingly, the committee recommends as follows: To enable the Department of the Navy to maintain superiority in naval hydromechanics and to allow the necessary resources to be devoted to this aim, ONR should designate naval hydromechanics as a National Naval need.1 The committee is concerned that ONR support for research in ship and submarine hydromechanics and, in turn, the output of new ideas and technology have declined over the past decade. The current 1   As stated by Fred E. Saalfeld to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), National Naval Programs (now called National Naval Needs) are those science and technology areas that are uniquely important to the naval forces and whose health depends on ONR investment. See the preface for additional discussion.

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An Assessment of Naval Hydromechanics Science and Technology system relies partially on funding made available from major acquisition programs, which in turn produces dramatic variations in the funding for naval research. This arrangement adversely impacts ONR's ability to maintain a research program focused on the long-term S&T problems of interest to the Department of the Navy—guaranteeing a pipeline of new scientists and engineers and developing products that ensure naval superiority. The work associated with variable funding from major acquisition programs is naturally oriented to the needs of the acquisition programs and therefore tends to be shorter-term and less adventuresome in scope than is required to produce revolutionary changes in technology. Today's 6.1 research will support new ship concepts a decade from now. The committee therefore sees the need for a stable base of funding outside of the acquisition programs for ONR, specifically for work in naval hydromechanics at the 6.1 level. Based on its judgment, the committee recommends as follows: ONR should implement the following changes in research policy as it relates to hydromechanics: Funding for 6.1 should be less focused on immediate needs and more focused on broad, long-term research on fundamental problems in naval hydromechanics such as linear and nonlinear wave dynamics, including wave breaking, air entrainment effects, and air/sea interactions; all aspects of cavitating and supercavitating flows, including inception, noise, and damage; drag reduction and other aspects of flow control; surface and submerged wakes; hydrodynamic sources of noise; internal wave generation and propagation; and vortex dynamics and turbulence unique to naval surface and subsur face vehicle/sea interaction. The 6.1 resource base should be stable and should be protected from the larger funding fluctuations associated with major acquisition programs. In the 6.1 area, ONR should promote a culture of bottom-up research, which can bring novel developments and lead to solutions for unanticipated problems that may arise in the future. The committee is concerned that the Department of the Navy does not have an integrated, long-term plan for science and technology (S &T) programs aimed at developing and exploiting new platform concepts for ships and submarines. It therefore recommends as follows: ONR, in conjunction with the relevant Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Naval Sea Systems Command/Program Executive Office organizations, should formulate and maintain an integrated 6.2/6.3 plan for technology development and demonstration aimed at new platform concepts for ships and submarines and using the results of long-term basic research under ONR sponsorship. Key features of this plan should include (1) significant advances in a 15-year time frame, (2) clearly articulated goals in the related hydromechanics areas of signature reduction, drag reduction, propulsive efficiency, and seakeeping/maneuverability, and (3) the examination of concepts that could achieve these goals. Demonstrations necessary to ensure the validity of predicted performance should be described. The investment required and the resulting payoffs in terms of improvements in stealth, speed, cost, and payload capability should be assessed. The plan should guide 6.2/6.3 research and development efforts. The planning process should involve experts from the industry that engineers and builds naval systems; these experts must have long-term vision. The plan should also (1) require and accommodate innovative and competing approaches, (2) foster collaboration between the Department of the Navy, academia, industry, and, where appropriate, foreign organizations, (3) identify opportunities for areas of fundamental research, and (4) stimulate concepts for spin-off to commercial applications.

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An Assessment of Naval Hydromechanics Science and Technology Continuous channels of communication should be established between the research, design, and operations communities to ensure the effective use of research results and to inform researchers of specific problems as they arise. It is anticipated that improved communications at the Department of the Navy and between the department and the industrial and academic communities will lead to a stronger research program with significant future payoffs for the Department of the Navy. The committee expressed concern about various aspects of the Department of the Navy's research centers. There are numerous facilities and they are large, but they do not have the world-class instrumentation needed to do cutting-edge hydromechanics research. Few of the facilities appear to have been qualified to the careful level required for high-quality research. Some of the facilities appear to be idle more than one would expect in view of the research needed to match the imaginative developments that are occurring in commercial ships. If the Department of the Navy were to provide a financial incentive for commercial organizations to use these facilities, much as NASA does with its wind tunnels, a higher quality of facility and better support might become available to both military and commercial users of the facilities. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) at the centers is expanding in importance and effort, yet world-class computing facilities are not available and some of those doing CFD work on naval problems are not in the mainstream of modern CFD developments. This concern is not limited to CFD researchers. Overall, while several of the researchers in the Department of the Navy's centers are highly regarded in the research community, that number is small compared with total staffing, and they are spread across a number of different facilities. The Department of the Navy hydromechanics research centers are a national asset and should be supported accordingly. Therefore, the committee recommends as follows: The Department of the Navy should take the following steps to ensure that high-quality S&T is conducted at the hydromechanics research centers: The Department of the Navy should consider retiring some of the less advanced facilities at thecenters so that the rest can be improved and supported by better technical know-how and more manpower. Facilities that have shown no significant work or major instrumentation upgrades for a long time (say, 10 years) should be considered for decommissioning. The Department of the Navy should aggressively pursue advanced measurement techniques (e.g.,noninvasive, holographic, ultrasonic, and velocimetry techniques). The maintenance and upgrade of hydromechanics facilities at the Department of the Navy centers should be funded from a separate source not linked to the S&T program. The fundamental basis for experimental work at the Department of the Navy's centers should be strengthened. Experts from the different centers should be involved in intercenter scientific committees promoting the scrutiny and discussion of issues such as design and upgrade of facilities, qualification and documentation of the characteristics of an adequate facility, development and acquisition of new instrumentation and measurement techniques, physical interpretation of data, and evaluation of the scientific merit of the proposed experiments and the results obtained. Funding allocations should be based not only on the merit of proposed work but also on a track record of significant contributions from past work. The high quality of the Department of the Navy centers can be maintained by regular internal and external peer review and an emphasis on the refereed publication of research results. A more active collaborative relationship between university and center researchers should be facilitated to take advantage of the strengths of both and to create a stronger overall research effort. Top-notch researchers from universities and other research institutions should be involved in research at

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An Assessment of Naval Hydromechanics Science and Technology the centers. The centers should use university researchers as active members of working teams in technical and scientific matters, design, facility upgrades and modifications, instrumentation design, and data presentation and interpretation of results. In addition, facilities and their use should be subjected to periodic evaluation by external experts. The quality of the research and technical management staffs should be improved over time by providing a more attractive research environment for the best and brightest university graduates. The committee is also concerned about the declining base of expertise and the lack of emphasis on naval hydromechanics in the research community that supports the Department of the Navy's needs. It therefore recommends as follows: ONR should establish an institute for naval hydrodynamics (INH) subject to the following guidelines: The INH should capture the best talents and the largest body of knowledge in hydromechanics from the United States and foreign countries. It should leverage existing funding and ensure a well-coordinated approach to research in hydromechanics. The INH should be directed by a highly qualified scientific leader. The management style and philosophy should be in tune with the intellectual creativity expected of participants in the INH. A small central facility should support the INH. This facility should be open to all INH participants. The form of the center should be carefully determined. One attractive option would be a virtualcenter that uses distributed assets and extensive Internet communication. The virtual center would have a management committee and a small central supporting entity. The new NASA Astrobiology Institute organized by the NASA/Ames Research Center, the European Research Community on Flow, Turbulence, and Combustion, and the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts are models for virtual centers. Virtual centers could draw upon researchers anywhere at any time. Although the idea is relatively new and relatively untested, it is very promising, and the committee recommends that it be given serious consideration. Alternatively, the center could be modeled after the jointly managed NASA/Stanford Center for Turbulence Research and the independently managed Institute for Computer Application Science and Engineering, at NASA/Langley. The committee believes that if the resources to support the initiatives recommended above can be found from new sources or budgetary rearrangements, the Department of the Navy will be in a good position to maintain its technical superiority in hydromechanics in the decades ahead.