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Wave of the future: ONR forum looks at amphibious operations

Office of Naval Research

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IMAGE: Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, discusses the operational need for amphibious high-water speed during the Office of Naval Research-hosted Focus Area Forum... view more

Credit: (US Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Technology to impact future amphibious naval operations was in the spotlight Aug. 27, as senior leaders from the Navy and Marine Corps spoke to a packed house at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on the topic of "Expeditionary and Irregular Warfare: The Amphibious High Water Speed Challenge."

The latest in ONR's Focus Area Forums--an ongoing series of science and technology themed meetings bringing together academia, industry and military leaders to better tackle naval challenges--included keynote speeches by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command/Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration, and Rear Adm. Mat Winter, the chief of naval research. Both leaders spoke about the urgent need for technology to advance amphibious operations and create a high speed capability to enable the Marine Corps' concept of operational maneuver from the sea.

"I don't think there's a more important capability challenge for the Marine Corps' service-defining capability, than being able to get Marines from ship to shore to objective seamlessly and expeditiously," Walsh noted. "That's what we do. We've got to have that capability, and we've got to be able to do it quickly."

The forum featured not only presentations from high-level leadership on amphibious operations and capabilities, but also allowed attendees to interact and discuss new amphibious technologies, via posters displayed about their work. Winter said the forums are a unique way for ONR to continue important dialogue started at the Naval Future Force S&T Expo held last February and to advance critical science and technology needed for the Marine Corps.

"These forums are essential to not only foundational discussions about basic research, but also how that research can advance into, ultimately, capability for the warfighter," said Winter. "The forums give our research and industry partners firsthand views on warfighter needs and leadership requirements--and also give the warfighters new insights into the art of the possible, both short- and long-term."

The event was organized by ONR's Expeditionary Warfare and Combatting Terrorism Department. Dr. John Pazik is the department head and responsible for the Expeditionary and Irregular Warfare focus area, which covers a broad spectrum of technologies. The high water speed aspects of the focus area are managed by Jeff Bradel, program manager for maneuver science and technology. While the forum was designed to spark ideas and conversation in the S&T community, panelists and discussions cut across the Naval Research & Development Enterprise (NR&DE) to frame the issues.

Bradel, who has been a key player in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, was recently recognized by the National Defense Industrial Association for his lifetime achievements in tactical vehicle technology.

"A high water speed amphibious combat vehicle is of critical importance to the Marine Corps," Bradel said. "Designing a capable system with all the desired attributes of a high speed water craft, coupled with a desire for a high performance land vehicle once ashore in a single platform, is a very challenging problem. We are seeking new, breakthrough technologies and innovative concepts in order to bring this needed capability to fruition."

Attendees were enthusiastic after learning more about ONR research efforts on high water speed technologies and seeing the commitment from Navy and Marine Corps leadership present.

Some of the topics highlighted as key areas for short and long-term development opportunities included:

  • Hull form and propulsor hydrodynamics

  • Powertrain/power generation/fuel efficiency/autonomy

  • Survivability/materials/structures

  • Human factors/habitability

To see a short video about the Focus Area Forum on High Water Speed Challenge, go here. To see the full agenda or download the briefings, click here.

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