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Building a "Base at Sea" to Support U.S. Military Operations

FAU's SeaTech - Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering - where the research is taking place.
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (SPX) Aug 24, 2006
Florida Atlantic University's SeaTech - Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering in Dania Beach, which is part of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, has been awarded a $2 million grant by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to investigate, design and build a prototype of a rapidly-deployable, multi-mission platform to be used as an enabling technology for seabasing.

This innovative concept of a "base at sea" will enable and sustain operations equivalent to the size of a Navy unit or larger - a substantial expansion of today's amphibious operations capabilities.

The Navy's doctrine for warfare by 2015 includes plans to use mobile, scalable, offshore facilities to support shore-based Navy, Marine, Army and Air Force operations which will be central to future war operations, and will eliminate the need for a land base when conducting military operations. Since its inception in 1997, SeaTech has received 471 grant awards totaling more than $55 million.

This two-year project is headed by Dr. Frederick Driscoll, principal investigator and assistant professor of FAU's Department of Ocean Engineering. Driscoll will lead a team of researchers from FAU, two Navy laboratories and industry partners, Oceaneering International and Marine Applied Physics Corporation.

"The necessary science and technology for operating such sea bases poses both significant ocean engineering challenges and the need for innovation in ship design, cargo transfer, sea-keeping and hydrodynamic performance," said Dr. Manhar Dhanak, director of FAU's SeaTech, chair of FAU's Department of Ocean Engineering and co-principal investigator of the project. "Development of various ocean technologies is integral to enabling these mobile bases."

Dr. Karl von Ellenrieder also is a co-investigator of the project and an assistant professor of FAU's Department of Ocean Engineering.

ONR, under the National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering University Research Initiative, is sponsoring this program. The program involves student internships at the Center for Innovation in Ship Design (CISD) which is hosted at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division. The initial concept was developed by the CISD Innovation Cell on seabasing, sponsored by the ONR, which ran from February through September 2003. The idea was further developed by FAU summer interns working at CISD in 2004.

"It is extremely gratifying to see the transformation from a paper design to a model system and now to a functioning prototype," said Driscoll.

"Florida Atlantic University is tackling real-world problems to improve life and safety at home and across the globe," said Dr. Larry F. Lemanski, vice president for research at FAU. "Our researchers are designing and developing various cutting-edge technologies to support the military in areas such as homeland security, including surveillance, simulation, imaging and secure communications programs, as well as therapies in the war against bioterrorism."

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