Naval Research Laboratory Wins 2005 Roosevelts Gold Medal for Science


4/8/2006 - 23-06r
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The Naval Research Laboratory received the 2005 Roosevelts Gold Medal for Science from the New York Council of the Navy League of the United States in a ceremony held on March 22, 2006 in New York City. NRL's Commanding Officer, CAPT Daniel Gahagan, and Director of Research, Dr. John Montgomery, accepted the award on behalf of the Laboratory.

The Roosevelts Gold Medal was conceived and created by the New York Council of the Navy League in 1986. The award is presented annually, "to an individual, institution or corporation for extraordinary scientific contributions to the security of America."

NRL, cited by the New York Council of the Navy League as the "government's premier defense research laboratory," was recognized for its accomplishments as follows: "From early developments in radar and satellite time-based navigational systems, to miniature hand-launched surveillance planes ... the Naval Research Lab has been on the cutting edge in scientific research and in advanced technological development during world wars, the cold war and the current war on terrorism." The League noted that "NRL is responsible for a number of innovations that have revolutionized the capabilities of the United States Navy, and of the nation as a whole. ... NRL has made a profound difference, in times of war and in times of peace, through the creative work of scientists and engineers who serve the nation's interest. The record shows that NRL has helped make the U.S. Fleet the most formidable naval fighting force in the world." NRL also received a congratulatory letter from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, thanking NRL for having "contributed significantly to our city and nation's security and prosperity."

In receiving the Roosevelts Gold Medal for Science, NRL's Director of Research, Dr. John Montgomery, described the roles that the Roosevelts played in establishing NRL. In May 1915, when asked by a New York Times correspondent to comment on the war in Europe, Thomas Edison argued that the Nation should look to science. "The Government," Edison proposed, "should maintain a great research laboratory." Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels seized the opportunity to enlist the inventor's strong support. Edison agreed to serve as the head of a new body of civilian experts - the Naval Consulting Board - to advise the Navy on science and technology and to oversee the creation of the new laboratory, and he worked closely with Franklin D. Roosevelt, then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of President Theodore Roosevelt, succeeded his cousin in the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy and formally inaugurated NRL's opening in 1923 as the principal speaker. His remarks were not recorded, but earlier Theodore Roosevelt Jr. had told the House Subcommittee on Appropriations, "I feel strongly that the Navy must not be allowed to petrify. We will petrify unless we are constantly reaching out for new and better things. The research laboratory is in direct line with this thought." Thus, through nearly a decade of involvement on the part of the Roosevelts and of Edison, the Navy's corporate Laboratory came to be created by an act of Congress.

At the same ceremony where NRL received the Roosevelts Medal, the Navy League announced the kick-off of a campaign leading to the commissioning ceremony for USS New York (LPD 21), now under construction in Louisiana and with commissioning planned for early 2008. The name for this ship, that will have 27 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in its hull, was selected to honor the heroes and victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In receiving the Roosevelts Medal, Dr. Montgomery commented on the Laboratory's connections with the USS New York. The USS New York (LPD 21) will be the sixth U.S. Navy ship to carry the state's name. It was on the fifth -- the USS New York (BB-34) battleship -- that NRL installed and tested the first operational U.S. radar, the XAF, in 1939, thereby ushering in the era of modern warfare. By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 20 XAF radar units were in operation. Radar of this type contributed to the victories of the Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal.

NRL's connections with the USS New York continue into the future, with NRL's science and technology products to be incorporated in many ways aboard the new warship, such as:

  • SPQ-9B radar
  • Global Positioning System
  • NULKA Decoy System
  • MK-36 Decoy Launching System and Decoys
  • Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor System
  • Fire fighting systems
  • Advanced steels
  • Corrosion protection systems
  • Construction methodologies derived from the NRL-created scientific field of fracture mechanics

The Medal carries the profiles of Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, both Assistant Secretaries of the Navy prior to election as President of the United States. Institutions that have been past winners of the Roosevelts Gold Medal include Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory and the Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Talent Search.

The Navy League of the United States is a civilian organization dedicated to informing the American people and their government that the United States of America is a maritime nation and that its national defense and economic well being are dependent upon strong sea services - United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard and United States Merchant Marine.



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About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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