Inaugurating the Wave of the Future


OSTP Director John P. Holdren delivered remarks at the opening of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division's newly renovated wave testing basin on December 19, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Navy)

Imagine a giant swimming pool with 12 million gallons of water that in seconds can produce waves matching those found almost anywhere on Earth; reproduce those waves precisely on command; and in less than a minute regain its original placid surface in preparation for a new kind of wave to be generated. This is not a new training site for world-class surfers. It’s a newly renovated facility in West Bethesda, Maryland, called the Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin, where the US Navy will precisely test the performance of advanced ships, submarines, torpedoes and other marine technologies.

OSTP Director John Holdren joined officials at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) yesterday to mark the opening of the renovated MASK Basin facility, among the most advanced in the world. The 360-foot by 240-foot pool, featuring depths of up to 35 feet, will be used to evaluate the maneuverability and stability of precisely engineered scale models up to 30 feet in length. Those models can be towed at a variety of angles at speeds of up to 15 knots—a capacity that promises to reduce development costs and speed the design and deployment of new ships and other advanced systems for the high seas. 

“There should be absolutely no doubt that the investment the Nation is making here at Carderock in this upgraded facility will pay for itself many times over, as the MASK’s technical capacity gets leveraged with the ingenuity of the Navy scientists and engineers and their partners who will be working here,” Dr. Holdren said at yesterday’s ribbon cutting, which featured a dramatic demonstration of the multiple wave forms the tank is capable of producing. “I want to commend Navy leadership for having the vision—and the perseverance—to ensure completion of this important and exciting project.”

NSWCCD is an applied research and engineering center within the Navy’s extended network of labs and technical centers.  For more than 100 years it has been the lead organization for the Navy’s work in hull, mechanical, and electrical engineering, as well as in naval architecture and marine engineering.  NSWCCD employs approximately 2,800 scientists, engineers, and technicians at locations nationwide. 

Recognizing that the Nation’s defense labs are integral to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) diverse missions, OSTP has been working to develop policies and programs that can strengthen the Department’s in-house R&D capabilities, speed the development of new technologies, and reduce operating and acquisition costs.  Among OSTP’s priorities in this regard are to adequately support the labs’ research budgets and infrastructure needs and help inspire, attract, and retain a world-class workforce that is skilled in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

OSTP congratulates the Navy on the opening of the new MASK facility and looks forward to the great science and technology that is sure to emerge from the work that will be performed there in service to the Navy and the Nation.


The Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division unveiled its newly renovated wave testing basin on December 19, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Navy)

Arun Seraphin is Principal Assistant Director for National Security and International Affairs at OSTP

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