Marine data collection is a general term used when referring to all types of survey or marine scientific activity, i.e., military surveys, hydrographic surveys and marine scientific research. Military Survey refers to activities undertaken in the ocean and coastal waters involving marine data collection (whether or not classified) for military purposes. Military surveys can include oceanographic, hydrographic, marine geological, geophysical, chemical, biological, acoustic, and related data. Hydrographic Survey includes determination of one or more of the several classes of data -- depth of water, configuration and nature of the natural bottom, direction and force of currents, heights and times of tides and water stages, and hazards to navigation -- for the production of nautical charts and similar products to support safety of navigation.
Marine Scientific Research (MSR) refers to activities undertaken in accordance with part XIII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the ocean and coastal waters whose purpose is to expand general scientific knowledge of the marine environment. MSR activities undertaken include: physical and chemical oceanography, marine biology, fisheries research, scientific ocean drilling and coring, geological/geophysical studies, as well as other activities with a scientific purpose. The results of marine scientific research are generally made publicly available. US Navy-sponsored marine scientific research is normally conducted by civilian research vessels under the sponsorship of the Office of Naval Research.
Territorial Sea is a belt of sea adjacent to a coastal State measured seaward from baselines determined in accordance with international law up to a maximum breadth of 12 nautical miles. The coastal State enjoys full sovereignty of water and airspace in the territorial sea. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, extending up to 200 nautical miles from the baselines determined in accordance with international law. The coastal State enjoys sovereign rights over resource-related matters, and has jurisdiction over artificial islands, marine scientific research, and matters related to protection and preservation of the marine environment in the EEZ. The high seas include all parts of the sea that are not included in the EEZ, territorial sea, internal waters, or archipelagic waters of a State.
The distinction among MSR, military surveys and hydrographic surveys are important because. Under UNCLOS, Coastal States may regulate MSR in their EEZ. The US Government, though, recognizes military survey and hydrographic survey as high seas freedoms separate from MSR. Thus, military survey and hydrographic survey are not subject to coastal State consent otherwise applicable to MSR in foreign EEZs and on foreign continental shelves. Currently, not all nations accept this interpretation. Therefore, to promote universal acceptance of this interpretation, DON must consistently distinguish between military or hydrographic surveys and MSR.
World War II thrust the United States into global affairs, and its many sea campaigns not only drew public interest to the ocean but highlighted our lack of understanding of it. Most members of the small marine science community turned to military oriented work in uniform, in the civil service, or at universities and related institutions. Academic ships, as well as those of the federal government, were put on Navy research and surveying tasks. The Navy needed oceanographic help in everything from submarine warfare to amphibious landings. This assistance contributed to the war effort and demonstrated to the nation that marine science was more than an abstract endeavor and could contribute to the public good on many levels.
Since World War II, the United States has been a world leader in most areas of oceanography. Vannevar Bush's Science: The Endless Frontier is still the classic statement of the essential ingredients of scientific excellence. He noted that "without scientific progress, no amount of achievement in other directions can ensure our health, prosperity, and security as a nation in the modern world. This essential new knowledge can only be obtained through basic scientific research." The plan of Vannevar Bush for government support of university science led to the formation of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which is charged with ensuring the development of strong academic research programs in scientific fields of interest to the Navy. The Cold War and the threat from both surface vessels and, particularly, submarines led ONR to conclude that expanding and strengthening the basic science of the ocean were in the national interest.
The postwar and post-Sputnik periods from 1960 to 1980 were marked by growing national awareness of the world and an intense interest in science. In marine science, interest broadened globally , leading to such major ocean-related programs as the International Geophysical Year, the Deep Sea Drilling Project and the International Decade of Ocean Exploration. While originally responsible for the postwar academic expansion of oceanography, the Navy is progressively concentrating its support in a more limited number of Navy-relevant areas, but continues to provide some oceanographic research vessels to U.S. academic institutions and provide research opportunities for use of specialized platforms.
Oceanographic research studies with national security implications include hydrodynamics, marine life, the interaction of seawater with ocean boundaries, ocean acoustics, and geoacoustics. Knowledge of the exchanges of energy, heat, and mass at the ocean-atmosphere interface is important to climate and weather prediction. Oceanographic research has advanced from the past era of exploration to one of increased observation and description of oceans systems and interactions with the atmosphere.
The US research, exploration, and monitoring fleet consists of more than 400 vessels ranging in size from the 470-foot JOIDES RESOLUTION ocean drilling ship, to small boats that support coastal and inshore water activities. Vessels in this inventory have an average length of 92 feet and are 23 years old. Approximately 21 percent of the vessels are large ocean-going vessels (over 130 feet).
The inventory of vessels is sorted into five organizational categories: University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), federal, state, academic, and commercial. UNOLS vessels include U.S. Navy and NSF-owned vessels in operation with various universities. Federal vessels are those owned and operated by federal agencies, including the Navy and USCG. Academic vessels are non-UNOLS vessels operated by academic institutions and nonprofit, private oceanographic research institutions such as Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institutions and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Commercial vessels are vessels owned by for-profit organizations, including vessels chartered or leased by federal, state or academic institutions. For smaller vessels with a limited operational range, the homeport region approximates the vessel's operational region. For some large oceangoing vessels, the operational region surpasses their homeport region. These larger vessels have a global reach, and occasionally operate for significant periods of time conducting missions through multiple regions.
UNOLS was created in 1972 with the objective of coordinating and reviewing access to and use of facilities for academic oceanographic research. UNOLS plans to reorganize the five categories of vessels into four new classes based roughly on length and capabilities: Global, Ocean, Regional, and Local. The Global Class will include vessels longer than 230 feet that are able to work worldwide in ice-free waters. These vessels carry more than 30 scientists and can conduct missions longer than 50 days. The Ocean Class is a new class of vessels for interdisciplinary research, similar in design to the Global Class, but without the global range. These vessels are expected to be from 180 to 230 feet in length and will have greater capabilities than the currently existing Intermediate Class vessels. Regional Class is the smallest class, which is expected to depend primarily on federal funding for their construction. These vessels are expected to range from 130 to 150 feet. Regional Class vessels will carry about 20 scientists for up to a month and have laboratory space for multidisciplinary research. Local vessels are vessels under 130 feet, and their characteristics and number will reflect the research priorities of the sponsoring institutions with input from the UNOLS community. The main factor for the new vessel classification will be the operational capabilities of the vessels and not the length.
The missions supported by these vessels range from water-quality monitoring in the Great Lakes to deep-ocean drilling for geophysical research. The type of deployment mission dictates the vessel's characteristics. Some vessels have a unique role that cannot be replicated by any other vessel in the fleet. For example, the 360-foot FLIP is designed to be towed to a station and "flipped" into a vertical position to act as a research platform. Other vessels frequently support multidisciplinary investigations and cannot be classified within a defined mission (e.g., fisheries, geophysics survey).
Between 1946 and the founding of the National Science Foundation in 1950, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) was the federal government's only agency whose principal mission was the support of research. Congress passed legislation establishing the ONR on Aug. 1, 1946. An immediate legacy of Vannevar Bush's comprehensive assessment of national science policy, ONR was the first permanent federal agency devoted to the support of scientific research. ONR is also a mission agency; it has a responsibility to sponsor scientific work in the interest of the Navy and Marine Corps. ONR owns several famous research vessels and platforms, including the famous submersible ALVIN, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
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