NRL Scientist Commemorated in Launch of Namesake
USNS Howard O. Lorenzen
- Accept the Challenge
- About NRL
- Doing Business
- Public Affairs & Media
- Public Affairs Office
- News Releases
- 2015 News Releases
- 2014 News Releases
- 2013 News Releases
- 2012 News Releases
- 2011 News Releases
- 2010 News Releases
- 2009 News Releases
- 2008 News Releases
- 2007 News Releases
- 2006 News Releases
- 2005 News Releases
- 2004 News Releases
- 2003 News Releases
- 2002 News Releases
- 2001 News Releases
- 2000 News Releases
- 1999 News Releases
- 1998 News Releases
- 1997 News Releases
- 1996 News Releases
- NRL Videos
- Email Updates
- Social Media
- NRL Events
- Popular Images
- Public Notices
- Field Sites
- Visitor Info
- Contact NRL
Complete with the ceremonious champagne christening, the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25) is the second ship in U.S. Navy history to honor an NRL scientist for contributions made to Naval and civilian scientific research. Operated by the Military Sealift Command the missile range instrumentation ship, equipped with a new dual band phased array radar system and other advanced mission technology, will replace the USNS Observation Island launched in 1953.The 12,575 ton, 534 foot USNS Howard O. Lorenzen will be home to a crew of 88 and will host embarked military and civilian technicians and mariners from other U.S. government agencies. Computer-Aided Image: Naval Sea Systems Command
In a career that spanned 33 years at the Washington, D.C., based Naval Research Laboratory, Howard Otto Lorenzen developed the distinction as the "Father of Electronic Warfare" for his development of radio countermeasures that could exploit detected or interrupted electromagnetic transmissions for military purposes, intelligence gathering and electronic countermeasures — a pioneering concept that was the genesis of modern day electronic warfare.
"Lorenzen understood and the Navy realized the value and relevance of not only detecting enemy radio and electronic transmissions, but that recording, analyzing and deciphering these transmissions and developing intuitive countermeasures would prove to be an integral and vital function to the future of national security," said Pete Wilhelm, Director, NRL Naval Center for Space Technology.
Beginning his NRL career in 1940 as a radio engineer under the leadership of radar pioneer, Albert Hoyt Taylor, Lorenzen got his first taste of electronic countermeasures when he unintentionally jammed the signal of radar being tested at the lab's Radar Division. As the U.S. entered World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lorenzen's research focused on developing electronic means to detect, locate, jam and otherwise deceive enemy radar and other electronic locating equipment, ushering in a new era of warfare to benefit U.S. military countermeasures.
As the war progressed, Lorenzen, assigned to the lab's Special Developments Section, continued to expand on the idea of electronic countermeasures, or ECMs, developing radio detection and recording devices to defeat guided German missiles by analyzing the control signals sent to Henschel 293 flying bombs and using the information to disrupt or distort radio command signals.
NRL's experience during the war made it evident the importance of electronic countermeasures in Naval operations. After the war, Lorenzen continued to develop new, and tweak existing, ECM technologies organizing NRL's Countermeasures Branch and toiling with recovered German and Japanese wartime electronic devices. Lorenzen developed the first U.S. magnetic tape-recorder for intercept work and tunable microwave intercept receivers equipped in Navy ships, shore stations and aircraft.
During the 1950s and throughout the Korean and Vietnam military conflicts, ECM technology advanced by Lorenzen and his team of engineers provided new techniques and systems of electronic signal interception, signal source location including high-frequency direction finding, recording, analysis, jamming and deception. It was Lorenzen's project engineer and prodigy, Jim Trexler, who first started calling Lorenzen "Father." Trexler was the first to reveal that terrestrial radio signals reflected from the moon could be intercepted back on Earth using a giant parabolic antenna. An immediate outgrowth was the Navy's Communication Moon Relay (CMR) system, "moon bounce," that provided our Navy with satellite communication a decade before artificial space satellites were operational.
In June 1960, after a U.S. U-2 spy aircraft was shot down over the Soviet Union, Lorenzen's most notable achievement became the Galactic Radiation and Background payload, GRAB, the earliest space-based reconnaissance satellite and the first U.S. Navy electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite used to obtain information on Soviet air defense radars that otherwise could not be observed from U.S. military aircraft.
Situated 500 miles above the Earth, safe from surface-to-air missiles, the GRAB satellite's circular orbit passed it through energy beams from Soviet radar whose pulses traveled straight and far beyond the horizon into space. GRAB received each pulse of a radar signal in a certain bandwidth, as sensed by its tiny antennas, and transponded a corresponding signal to collection huts at ground sites within its field of view. Operators recorded transponded information on magnetic tape and couriered it to NRL for evaluation. NRL evaluated, duplicated, and forwarded the tapes to the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md., and the Strategic Air Command at Offut Air Force Base, Omaha, Neb., for analysis and processing.
In the mid-1960s as Cold War tensions were ramping up, Lorenzen inspired his team to again think of new, innovative means to thwart enemy attacks on U.S. military targets. In September 1966, his branch was upgraded to division status and Lorenzen was named superintendent of NRL's new Electronic Warfare Division with the chief role to develop advanced guided missile defenses for Navy aircraft and state-of-the-art electronic warfare (EW) components for the USS New Jersey.
In 1970, Deputy of Defense Secretary David Packard aligned space system acquisition responsibilities with those for weapon systems acquisitions and authorized the military departments to pursue departmental need for space systems. NRL turned to Lorenzen to repeat in space what he had accomplished in EW - design total systems for military operational support — and in 1971 named Lorenzen superintendent of NRL Space Systems. Lorenzen served as superintendent of NRL space systems until his retirement from NRL in June 1973.
Christened in formal ceremonies at VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., the 12,575 ton, 534 foot ship will be home to a crew of 88 and will host embarked military and civilian technicians and mariners from other U.S. government agencies. Missile range instrumentation ships provide a platform for monitoring missile launches and collecting data that can be used to improve missile efficiency and accuracy.
The USNS Hayes, named after NRL scientist Harvey C. Hayes, launched in 1970 and is the only other U.S Navy ship commemorating an NRL scientist. Hayes, a distinguished scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory from 1923 until 1952, pioneered the world of ocean acoustics and is recognized as the first person to accumulate any substantial amount of data at sea and was later responsible for one of two operational sonar equipments used by the Navy at the outbreak of World War II.
|Susan Lorenzen Black, daughter of the late Dr. Howard O. Lorenzen, christened the Navy's newest missile range instrumentation ship named in her father's honor at a ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss., at VT Halter Marine shipyard.||Peter Wilhelm (center), Director, Naval Center for Space Technology is joined by NRL scientists Dr. Herbert Eppert (left), Superintendent, Marine Geosciences Division and Dr. Edward Franchi (right), Associate Director of Research, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Technology at christening ceremonies of the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen.|
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.
Comment policy: We hope to receive submissions from all viewpoints, but we ask that all participants agree to the Department of Defense Social Media User Agreement. All comments are reviewed before being posted.