ONR Recognizes Dr. Frederick W. Williams with Dr. Arthur E. Bisson Prize for Naval Technology

4/23/2007 - 20-07r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

Dr. Frederick W. Williams, Director of the Naval Research Laboratory's Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability, is the recipient of the Dr. Arthur E. Bisson Prize for Naval Technology Achievement. The Bisson Prize, presented by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to recognize notable successes in technology achievement, honors the late Dr. Arthur E. Bisson who was the Director of Science and Technology (S&T) at the Office of Naval Research in the mid-1990s. The award was presented April 11 at ONR in Arlington, Virginia.

Dr. Williams was cited for "numerous and renowned contributions to the enhanced survivability and recoverability of Naval ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel through innovative technology..." His notable achievements include fire safety improvements to all classes of ships, and specifically Damage Control Automation (DC ARM) for the DDX, fine water mist suppression system (LPD 17 Class, DDX, LHAR), smart fire main valve (DDX), early warning fire detection system (CVN78), smoke ejection system (LPD 17 Class, DDX), new submarine hull insulation (668 Class and beyond), and for all classes of ships, a major re-write of damage control doctrine, new electrical cable specification (low smoke), and the use of smoke curtains. Areas for which Dr. Williams is directly responsible include:

Damage Control (DC) - Intensive manning requirements for ships are maintenance and damage control. NRL was tasked by ONR to reduce DC manning by 85%. The first demonstration was completed in 1998 with a 35% reduction in DC manning. In 2000, the second demonstration achieved a 60% reduction. The third demonstration of full, automated damage control took place in 2001 with fleet participation and achieved over 80% reduction in DC manning. The program's success has been demonstrated in the smart ship and ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 18, which have deployed with concepts developed on the SHADWELL.

Fire Fighting - Volume 2 of the Naval Ships Technical Manual has been written wholly from recent testing done by Dr. Williams aboard the SHADWELL. In a study of more than 500 fires on the SHADWELL, the Offensive Fog Attack technique was developed using the Navy vari-nozzle. The technique allows entry into a burning compartment that is approaching flashover and cools the fire with short bursts of fog in the hot gas cloud - preventing flashover, allowing direct attack on the fire and saving hours of fire fighting time. Using the ship's ventilation system, Dr. Williams also showed a collective protection system could eliminate smoke on the damage control deck and in medical spaces. Smoke ejection technology is being incorporated into the latest class of ship, LPD 17 (San Antonio class), and has been transferred to submarine ventilation doctrine.

Fire suppression - A problem plaguing development of new suppressants is the need to separate the physical from the chemical effects. A simple thermophysical calculation showed that water delivered optimally is more effective than halons in fire suppression. Also, water does not produce high concentrations of acid in extinguishing the fire. Fine water mist systems have now been developed under Dr. Williams' direction that will be the main means of fire protection in shipboard machinery spaces on future Navy ship designs starting with the LPD17 class ship and DDX. Work continues to adapt this technology to a low-pressure system for shore facilities and Navy housing.

Scaling and Modeling - Dr. Williams proposed two efforts, one a research section in modeling and the other a full-scale test bed. In the early 1980s he proposed that NRL establish a fire research ship for both active and passive fire research. By 1987, the SHADWELL had become a reality. To extend the test platform, the port wingwall of the SHADWELL has been transformed into the forward section of a 688 (Los Angeles class) submarine complete with submarine ventilation. Portions of the DDG51, LPD17, CVN21, LHAR and DDX have also been incorporated into the SHADWELL, a truly unique ship. Over 450 papers have been published outlining research and test and evaluations that have been conducted on the SHADWELL, giving the Navy direction in future damage control concepts.

Materials and Toxicity - A significant problem in the passive fire safety area is the use of modern materials in confined spaces and the resulting spread and toxicity from unwanted fires. Dr. Williams has guided the development of a performance standard for composite materials for submarines. This standard calls for specific fire tests to be conducted on materials in their intended configuration before introduction into Navy use. Test data, along with scaling and modeling parameters, are used to assess specific hazards associated with a proposed use. Following significant ship fires where electrical cables, MIL-C-915, were ascribed to high concentrations of acid gas and dense smoke, Dr. Williams conducted full-scale tests to better understand the smoke and acid production and to study the difficulty of fighting this type of fire. Based on this work he identified a new cable jacket material, which showed no acid production and very little smoke in full-scale tests. These new cable specifications, MIL-C-24643 (low smoke) and MIL-C-24640 (light weight/low smoke) are now used in all Navy ship construction.

Mechanisms of Combustion - Dr. Williams successfully separated a flame into its various stages, temporally and spatially, to study each individually for its impact on flame processes. With a device called the Winged Vertical Tube Reactor, for which Dr. Williams was awarded a patent, carefully controlled combustion mixtures are heated as they flow through the tube so that the visible flame stages and the separated dark zones are stacked like multihued strata. Each stratum may be examined in detail for its role in the overall flame structure. He has shown the importance of "cool flames," and discovered that the second luminous stage, now termed the "transition flame," is indeed a transition phenomenon to hot ignition and is particularly sensitive to oxygen concentration. Transition and cool flames are important, the first to heat release and the second to ignition quality and both to fire behavior. This work, conducted prior to 1983, laid the foundation for much of the later understanding of Dr. Williams' fire safety work.

Dr. Williams holds a B.S. in chemistry/biology, and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemistry, all from the University of Alabama. He began his career at NRL as an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow. Joining the Lab as a research chemist, he later became head of the Chemistry Division's Combustion Section, and later Technical Director for the ex-USS Shadwell. Dr. Williams assumed his current position in 1994.

Dr. Williams is the recipient of Harry C. Bigglestone Award for Excellence in Communication of Fire Protection Concepts, The 2003 Royal Institution of Naval Architect-Lloyds Register of Safer Ship Award, four Alan Berman Research Publication Awards, two Department of the Navy Group Achievement Awards, the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, the DCS Award, and NRL's E.O Hulburt Science and Engineering Award. In 1999, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers named Dr. Williams "Person of the Year," and in 1995 the Center, under his directorship, received the 1995 EPA Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award. He is a member of the Honorary Chemical Society, Gamma Sigma Epsilon. Dr. Williams is also the recipient of NRL's Equal Employment Opportunity Award and the Fort Washington Area Recreation Council's Lifetime Achievement Award.

A partial citation of Dr. Williams' publications includes 74 publications in refereed journals, 51 formal reports, 7 patents and invention disclosures, 151 Memorandum Reports, 699 Technical Letter Reports, 9 video reports and over 250 other reports and presentations.

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