Defense Funding Awarded to Four Scripps Oceanography Researchers

May 29, 2012 - via Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Four Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, researchers will receive Navy funding to acquire and deploy instruments in support of studies ranging from coastal oceanography to deep-ocean acoustics. The awards mark the continuation of a partnership between Scripps and the Navy that predates World War II.

The Department of Defense (DoD) awarded a total of $54.7 million to academic institutions for the purchase of state-of-the-art research equipment. The awards are made by the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) to improve current capabilities, or develop new capabilities, to perform cutting-edge national security research.

Scripps awards will total nearly $4.5 million for six research projects. They complement some $25 million that the Navy awarded Scripps for research and ship operations in 2011. A portion of the funding supports the purchase of instruments and components from manufacturers in several states that work with Scripps.

Oceanographer Eric Terrill won support for a REMUS 600 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) configured with specialized sensors. The waters offshore of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier will serve as a research and engineering test bed and allow for cost-effective ocean testing of AUV technology to water depths of 600 meters (1,970 feet). A variety of operating conditions are easily accessible from the pier, which has proven to be a highly cost-efficient facility for development of new sensors, techniques and procedures for operating unmanned underwater vehicles. The instrument can also be tested in the San Diego Harbor at Scripps' Nimitz Marine Facility in Point Loma, home of the Scripps Navy-funded fleet of seagoing research vessels.

The REMUS 600 platform and sensor development program will leverage expertise developed over the last decade in operating the smaller REMUS 100 developed for shallow water oceanography. The 600 system is a larger and longer-duration unmanned underwater vehicle, and will be used in coastal oceanography research programs. The AUV is manufactured by Hydroid, a firm in Pocasset, Massachusetts.

"The newer and larger vehicle will allow us to extend our ocean sampling over a much wider region of coastal waters and provide a platform for the testing of new sensors to measure ocean and seafloor conditions," said Terrill. "Time and again at-sea, basic science research programs have had the side benefit of developing new technologies and scientific results that assist the Navy in defining future capabilities."

Terrill and Navy officials added that as the Navy increasingly relies upon unmanned underwater technologies to support its missions, it is important that organizations such as Scripps have access to these technologies to efficiently develop new sensors, operating strategies and data synthesis tools to support forecast models.

"Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC), and their subordinate commands, use the same or similar technologies in their operational surveys and measurement of the operational environment," said William Burnett, technical director, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. "This award provides potential opportunities to test new technologies and concepts that could lead to sensing and platform improvements, ultimately enhancing oceanographic and meteorological support to Navy operational capabilities."

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Author:Robert Monroe

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