Science and Technology News

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ONR Showcases Science, Technology Priorities During SNA Symposium

By Geoff Fein, ONR Corporate Strategic Communications

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) showcased a number of technologies at the 23rd annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) symposium held in Arlington, Va., Jan. 11-13.

ONR's presence at the symposium offered an opportunity to draw attention to the Navy's top science and technology (S&T) priorities. These technologies could influence the total ownership cost of surface ships as well as enhance warfighting capabilities.

"Technologies such as the Electromagnetic Railgun and Integrated Topside (InTop) highlight ONR's continued research efforts to improve the warfighting capabilities of our future surface fleet," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr. "Additionally, the Enhanced Hybrid Electrical Drive (EHED) and the Shipboard Energy Storage Module (SESM) have great potential for reducing the total ownership cost of our vessels."

While some of the concepts on display are still in the development phase and years from making their way into the fleet, a handful of systems touted by ONR could find a home in the Navy a lot sooner. Among the technologies shown on the "ship of the future" display were ways to keep vessel hulls clean from marine debris, and a new way to transfer cargo between ships at sea.

The Robotic Hull Bio-mimetic Underwater Grooming, or Hull BUG, is a vacuum cleaner-like autonomous device that strips away barnacles and biofilms from the underside of Navy ships. By removing marine debris from hulls, the concept could possibly save the Navy upward of $1 billion annually in fuel and maintenance costs across the fleet, ONR officials said.

The robotic system was first successfully tested in April 2010.

Another technology on display would enable off-loading of container ships without access to a safe deep-water port. ONR is developing the Large Vessel Interface Lift-On/Lift-Off Crane that will allow rapid and safe at-sea transfer of standard intermodal (ISO) containers and other heavy loads in moderate seas.

To make an impact on total ownership cost, ONR is pursuing a two-pronged approach. The Enhanced Hybrid Electrical Drive (EHED) is aimed at reducing fuel consumption and ensuring power system stability. EHED's goal is to enable gas turbines and generators to operate at higher efficiency. The second effort, the Shipboard Energy Storage Module (SESM), could provide continuous power to loads on DDG 51s, for example, until standby gas turbine generators can be started. The plan is to enable single-generator operations by guaranteeing steady ship power in the event of a generator failure, ONR officials said.

S&T efforts to strengthen warfighting capabilities include a self-defense torpedo that will be deployed from surface combatants to intercept and neutralize torpedo threats in defense of large deck ships. The Anti-Torpedo Torpedo is another program that could potentially transition to the fleet soon.

Among the other capabilities on display that should enhance warfighting on current and future surface combatants was ONR's Integrated Topside program. InTop plans to reduce the number of topside apertures present on Navy ships through the use of integrated, multi-function, multi-beam arrays.

Incorporated in 1985, SNA encourages coordination and communication among military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in Naval Surface Warfare. SNA also supports the activities of surface naval forces.

The Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning, and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

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