Office of Naval Research

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is an organization within the United States Department of the Navy that coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps through schools, universities, government laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations.

Office of Naval Research Official Logo
Office of Naval Research Official Logo


ONR Headquarters is in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. Accordingly, the nearest Washington Metro stop to ONR offices is Ballston, which is served by both the Orange Line (Washington Metro) and the Silver Line (Washington Metro).

Additionally, ONR Global has offices overseas in Santiago (Chile), London, Prague, Singapore, and Tokyo.


ONR was authorized by an Act of Congress, Public Law 588, and subsequently approved by President Harry S. Truman on 1 August 1946, with the stated mission of "planning, fostering, and encouraging scientific research in recognition of its paramount importance as related to the maintenance of future naval power and the preservation of national security."

Today, ONR carries out its mission by funding (through grants and contracts) world-class scientists, technologists, and engineers who perform basic research, technology development, and advanced technology demonstrations. More than 50 researchers have won a Nobel Prize for their ONR-funded work.

Continuous investment in new and innovative technology enables ONR to build and maintain the world's most capable Navy. Its focus is long term, yet it is highly responsive to near-term Naval needs. ONR's balanced S&T Portfolio is allocated to meet the broad spectrum of warfighter requirements: 10% Quick Reaction 30% S&T Acquisition Enablers 10% Leap Ahead Innovations 40% Discovery & Invention (Basic and Applied Science) 10% Other.


Command Structure

ONR reports to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy through the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. The Chief of Naval Research is Rear Admiral David J. Hahn and the Vice Chief of Naval Research is Brigadier General Christian F. Wortman, United States Marine Corps, who also serves as Director of United States Marine Corps Futures Directorate and Commanding General of the United States Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

ONR executes its mission through

In 2007, a Naval S&T Strategic Plan was developed to describe how ONR will enable the future operational concepts of the Navy and the Marine Corps. This plan was updated in 2009 and 2011. By design, it is a broad strategy that provides strong direction for the future, but it is aimed to retain sufficient flexibility and freedom of action to allow ONR to meet emerging challenges or alter course as directed by senior Naval leadership.

Science and Technology Departments

ONR has six science and technology departments that fund basic research programs, primarily through U.S. universities; technology research programs, primarily through government and nongovernment laboratories; and, advanced technology demonstration programs, primarily through U.S. industry and companies. The six departments support efforts span from combating terrorism to oceanography and from sea warfare to life sciences.

Additionally, ONR has an Office of Transition that supports technology transitions to the Navy and Marine Corps; a Small Business Innovative Research Office that encourages small businesses to develop and commercialize products in support of ONR’s mission; a Future Naval Capabilities Program that works to provide technologies to close warfighting gaps; and a Corporate Programs Office that supports cross-disciplinary research and education programs.

ONR Corporate Programs: Research & Education

In general, corporate programs are designed to increase the numbers and capabilities of engineers, scientists, and government personnel available to carry out efforts that support national defense and to provide evolutionary and often revolutionary technological capabilities to the United States Navy and Marine Corps. To accomplish this, ONR supports many Corporate research and education programs:

  • Naval Research Enterprise Intern Program (NREIP)
  • Multidisciplinary Research Program of the URI (MURI)
  • Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) of the URI
  • DoD Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCOR)
  • Young Investigator Program
  • DoD National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program of the URI
  • Summer Faculty Research Program
  • Faculty Sabbatical Leave Program
  • Naval High School Science Awards Program
  • HBCU (Historically Black Colleges/Universities)Future Engineering Faculty Fellowship Program
  • Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP) (Run by ONR, funded by the American Society for Engineering Education)

Naval Research Laboratory

Founded in 1923, NRL employs over 2,500 scientists and engineers.[1] NRL is the corporate research laboratory for the Navy and Marine Corps and conducts a broad program of scientific research, technology and advanced development. It has a prestigious history, including the development of the first U.S. radar system,[2] developing synthetic lubricants (for modern gas turbine engines), over-the-horizon radar,[3] the first U.S. surveillance satellite, and the Clementine mission. A few of the Laboratory's current specialties include plasma physics, space physics, materials science, and tactical electronic warfare.

ONR Global

The U.S. Office of Naval Research Global provides worldwide science & technology-based solutions to current and future Naval challenges. ONR Global combines the expertise of over 40 scientists, technologists, and engineers with a physical presence on five continents. The ONR Global team is committed to working with the broad global technical community and the operational Fleet/Force commands to foster cooperation in areas of mutual interest and to bring the full range of possibility to the Navy and Marine Corps.

ONR Global regional offices are located in:

  • RAF Blenheim Crescent, London, U.K. (Europe)
  • Santiago, Chile (Latin America)
  • Tokyo, Japan (Asia/Pacific)
  • Australia (Asia/Pacific)
  • Singapore (South Asia/Singapore)
  • Prague, Czech Republic (Europe)

ONR Global is a supporter of the Global Security Challenge at the London Business School.


Sea Fighter FSF1
Sea Fighter (FSF-1), August 2005.

ONR's investments have enabled many firsts, including the launch of the first U.S. intel satellite; the development of SEALAB I/II; the validation of the GPS concept and launch of the first GPS satellite; the first global atmospheric prediction model; GWOT support through various quick response programs; and, most recently, the Electromagnetic Railgun, the Infantry Immersive Trainer and Super-conducting Motors. Others include:

The ONR has also sponsored symposia such as the Symposium on Principles of Self-Organization at Allerton Park in 1960.[6]


US Navy 030322-N-1035L-006 The guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) launches a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) toward Iraq

Tomahawk TLAM launching

See also

ONR projects and programs

Related organizations and agencies


  1. ^ "About NRL - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory". Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Development of the Radar Principle - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory". Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Over-the-Horizon Radar - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory". Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  4. ^ "United States Department of Defense". Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Office of Naval Research". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Frontispiece". International Tracts in Computer Science and Technology and their Application. 9 (Principles of Self-Organization). 1962.

External links

Coordinates: 38°52′51″N 77°06′31″W / 38.8808°N 77.1086°W

Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition)

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) (abbreviated ASN RDA) is a civilian office of the United States Department of the Navy. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) requires Senate confirmation, and engages in duties as directed by the United States Secretary of the Navy.The office was created in 1990 by merging the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Shipbuilding and Logistics) and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Engineering and Systems). The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) is responsible for all of the acquisition functions and programs for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, subject to the guidelines propounded by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) is also in charge of the Office of Naval Research.

President Donald Trump has nominated James Geurts, a former Air Force officer and career civil servant, to be the ASN RDA.

Chief of Naval Research

The Chief of Naval Research is the senior military officer in charge of scientific research in the United States Navy. The Chief of Naval Research has a rank of Rear Admiral, and is in charge of the Office of Naval Research.The Chief of Naval Research has responsibility for basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development components of the Navy's research and development programs (the first three of the seven categories used in the Department of Defense research and development budget, often referred to as 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3, respectively), as well as the Navy's intellectual property policy. The Chief of Naval Research also coordinates with other research and development agencies within the Department of the Navy, such as the Naval Warfare Centers of the Naval Systems Commands.Other positions in the Office of Naval Research leadership include the Vice Chief of Naval Research (a one-star admiral), the Assistant Chief of Naval Research and Commanding Officer of ONR Global (both captains), and the Executive Director and Assistant Vice Chief of Naval Research (both civilians). The Chief of Naval Research reports directly to the civilian Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition), and is thus not organizationally subordinate to the Chief of Naval Operations, the senior military officer in the entire Navy.

Earth Observing-3

Earth Observing 3 (EO3) GIFTS-IOMI is a proposed NASA New Millennium Program joint mission with the US Navy's Office of Naval Research. GIFTS-IOMI or Geosynchronous Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer — Indian Ocean METOC Imager was the instrument selected by NASA to perform as EO3's latest weather observing instrument. The EO3 project ended with the cancellation of NMP in 2008.

GM Defense

GM Defense is a division of General Motors providing military products.

GM Defense is the military product division of General Motors focusing on the defense industry needs with hydrogen fuel cell and other advanced mobility technologies. GM Defense projects include SURUS (Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure) an autonomous modular platform joint project with the United States Army.ZH2 are modified Chevrolet medium and full size pickups modified for military needs. The ZH2, fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell and electric drive, has a stealthy drive system which produces a very low smoke, noise, odor and thermal signature. This allows soldiers to conduct silent watch and silent mobility missions on the battlefield. General Motors, the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are cooperating to incorporate automotive hydrogen fuel cell systems into the next generation of Navy unmanned undersea vehicles, or UUVs. Hydrogen fuel cell technology could augment ships and subs on patrol.

Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee

The Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee (U.S. Army designation; earlier Army designation: HO-1) was a unique direct-lift rotor aircraft, using contra-rotating ducted fans for lift inside a platform upon which the single pilot shifted body weight for directional control. The platform was developed starting in 1953 under an Office of Naval Research (ONR) contract to Hiller Aircraft, and flew successfully beginning in 1955.

International Shark Attack File

The International Shark Attack File is a global database of shark attacks. It began as an attempt to catalogue shark attacks on servicemen during World War II. The Office of Naval Research funded it from 1958 until 1968. During that time, a panel of shark experts developed a standard system for collecting accounts of shark attacks from around the world. The file was temporarily housed at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, until a permanent home was found at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. It is currently under the direction of members of the American Elasmobranch Society, including George H. Burgess. The file contains information on over 5,300 shark attacks, and includes detailed, often privileged, information including autopsy reports and graphic photos. The file is accessible only to scientists whose access is permitted only by a review board.

A similar project called Global Shark Attack File is accessible to everybody as an XLS file that can be sorted by date and location of the shark attack.

Malcolm Ross (balloonist)

Malcolm David Ross (October 15, 1919 – October 8, 1985) was a captain in the United States Naval Reserve (USNR), an atmospheric scientist, and a balloonist who set several records for altitude and scientific inquiry, with more than 100 hours flight time in gas balloons by 1961. Along with Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather (USN), he set the altitude record for a manned balloon flight.

Mina Rees

Mina Spiegel Rees (August 2, 1902, Cleveland, Ohio – October 25, 1997, New York City) was an American mathematician. She was the first female President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1971) and head of the mathematics department of the Office of Naval Research of the United States. Rees was a pioneer in the history of computing and helped establish funding streams and institutional infrastructure for research. Rees was also the founding president and president emerita of the Graduate School and University Center at CUNY. She received the Public Welfare Medal, the highest honor of the National Academy of Sciences; the King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom (UK) and at least 18 honorary doctorates.

Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory

The Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory (short: Penn State ARL or simply ARL), is a specialized research unit dedicated to interdisciplinary scientific research at the Penn State, University Park campus. The ARL is a DoD designated U.S. Navy University Affiliated Research Center. It is the university's largest research unit with over 1,000 faculty and staff. The Laboratory ranks 2nd in DoD and 10th in NASA funding to universities.ARL maintains a long-term relationship with the Naval Sea Systems Command and the Office of Naval Research.


R/P FLIP (FLoating Instrument Platform) is an open ocean research platform owned by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) and operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The platform is 108 meters (355 ft) long and is designed to partially flood and pitch backward 90°, resulting in only the front 17 meters (55 ft) of the platform pointing up out of the water, with bulkheads becoming decks. When flipped, most of the ballast for the platform is provided by water at depths below the influence of surface waves, hence FLIP is stable and mostly immune to wave action similar to a spar buoy. At the end of a mission, compressed air is pumped into the ballast tanks in the flooded section and the platform, which has no propulsion, returns to its horizontal position so it can be towed to a new location. The platform is frequently mistaken for a capsized ocean transport ship.

RV Roger Revelle (AGOR-24)

R/V Roger Revelle is an auxiliary general-purpose research vessel (AGOR) operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography under charter agreement with Office of Naval Research as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) fleet.

Rubicon Foundation

Rubicon Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization devoted to contributing to the interdependent dynamic between research, exploration, science and education. The foundation, started in 2002, is located in Durham, North Carolina and is primarily supported by donations and grants. Funding has included the Office of Naval Research from 2008 to 2010. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has provided pro bono services to assist in copyright searches and support.The Rubicon Foundation projects make it easy for recreational divers, aviators, and researchers worldwide to find the answers to questions on diving medicine, aerospace physiology, and space medicine, as well as historical information.


The SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) educational program was inspired by the 1997 book, Build Your Own Underwater Robot and other Wet Projects, by Harry Bohm and Vickie Jensen. A SeaPerch is an educational tool and kit that allows elementary, middle, and high-school students to construct a simple, remotely operated underwater vehicle, or Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and other readily made materials. The SeaPerch program is a curriculum designed program that teaches students basic skills in ship and submarine design and encourages students to explore naval architecture and marine and ocean engineering concepts. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant (MITSG) College Program created the SeaPerch initiative in 2003, and it is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, as part of the National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering (NNRNE) to find the next generation of Naval Architects, Marine Engineers, Naval Engineers, and Ocean Engineers.

Skyhook balloon

Skyhook balloons were high-altitude balloons developed by Otto C. Winzen and General Mills, Inc. They were used by the United States Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR) in the late 1940s and 1950s for atmospheric research, especially for constant-level meteorological observations at very high altitudes. Instruments like the Cherenkov detector were first used on Skyhook balloons.


TacSat-4 is the fourth in a series of U.S. military experimental reconnaissance and communication satellites. The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is the program manager. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsored the development of the payload and funded the first year of operations. The Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) funded the standardized spacecraft bus and the Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) funded the launch that will be performed by the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC).

The spacecraft was completed by the end of 2009, and was launched on September 27, 2011, on a Minotaur IV rocket into a highly elliptical orbit.

Thorvald A. Solberg

Rear Admiral Thorvald A. Solberg (17 February 1894 – 16 May 1964) was a senior officer in the United States Navy, and the Chief of the Office of Naval Research from 1948 to 1951.

USNS Henson (T-AGS-63)

USNS Henson (T-AGS-63) is a Pathfinder class oceanographic survey ship. It is the fourth ship in the class. Henson is named after Matthew Henson, who accompanied Robert Peary, most famously on an expedition intended to reach the Geographic North Pole in 1909.

Henson participated in the search for the remains of the USS Bonhomme Richard off the coast of Flamborough Head, England, during the week of 10 September 2010. The survey crew is composed of oceanographers from the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) who planned and coordinated the U.S. Navy's participation in the search. Representatives from the U.S. Naval Academy, Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval History and Heritage Command will also be aboard Henson to assist in the search and identification of found artifacts.

USS Bowen

USS Bowen (DE-1079/FF-1079) was a Knox-class frigate of the United States Navy. She was named for Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen, Sr. (1883–1965), former chief of the Naval Research Laboratory and the Office of Naval Research, who was deceased at the time of her commissioning. Admiral Bowen's son and namesake, Harold G. Bowen, Jr., who also retired as a vice admiral, presided over the U.S. Navy's 1969 inquiry into the Pueblo incident.

United States Naval Research Laboratory

The United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is the corporate research laboratory for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. It conducts basic scientific research, applied research, technological development and prototyping. The laboratory's specialties include plasma physics, space physics, materials science, and tactical electronic warfare. NRL is one of the first US Government scientific R&D laboratories, having opened in 1923 at the instigation of Thomas Edison, and is currently under the Office of Naval Research. NRL's research expenditures are approximately $1 billion per year.

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