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NEWS | July 1, 2022

NRL Celebrates 99 Years of Innovation; Looks Ahead to Second Century of Discovery

By U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Centennial celebration culminates with the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 2, 2023. The coming months are an opportunity for the nearly 3,000 NRL employees to highlight past, present, and future scientific achievements and imagine the technological breakthroughs and innovations in its second 100 years.

“For nearly a century, NRL employees have been at the forefront of innovation and research, and we are excited to honor this centennial as we look to the next 100 years," said Peter Matic, Ph.D., NRL’s Centennial Celebration Coordinator. “We are planning and coordinating events to celebrate this momentous occasion and share our legacy with a wider audience in the coming year.”

NRL is recognized worldwide for its technical leadership in basic and applied research spanning disciplines from the seafloor to outer space.

“The researchers at NRL unravel the impossibilities of today while delivering advanced capabilities to meet tomorrow’s challenges,” said NRL Commanding Officer Capt. Gregory Petrovic. “The talented men and women at NRL have delivered many firsts for our nation and the Navy. The list of breakthroughs and achievements is already long, and NRL will continue its legacy of delivering innovative capabilities to the Fleet and American people in the next century.”

In its first century of operation, NRL developed surveillance, meteorological, and GPS satellites; operational radar; and information security used aboard ships. Other notable achievements, among many, include pilotless first unmanned radio-controlled flight, the concept of using nuclear power for submarines, and more accurate weather modeling and forecast systems.

The lab is also home to numerous award-winning scientists, including the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1985 awarded to Jerome Karle, Ph.D., for his contribution in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structure; the National Medal of Technology in 2005 to Roger Easton for his extensive pioneering achievements in spacecraft tracking, navigation and timing technology that led to the development of the NAVSTAR-Global Positioning System (GPS); and the Thurlow Award in 1995 to William Burns, Ph.D., for his contribution to the development of the fiber-optic gyroscope.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels broke ground and established the U.S. Navy’s first modern science-and-technology-research facility on Dec. 6, 1920. Daniels was inspired by American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison when Edison said, “The Government should maintain a great research laboratory, jointly under military and naval and civilian control.”

Edison editorialized his idea for a center of innovation that could develop “military and naval progression” to modernize warfighting and prevent catastrophes in a New York Times Magazine article on the contemporary sinking of RMS Lusitania in 1915.

“For a century, NRL spearheaded research that has not only made our Navy and country stronger, it has also impacted the lives of billions of people, and has lived up to the spirit of what Edison envisioned,” NRL’s Director of Research, Bruce Danly, Ph.D. said. “As we look to our 100th year, the Lab and its scientists continue expanding our knowledge and developing the tools needed for All-domain Naval Power.”

Learn more about NRL's centennial and join in the celebration by visiting or search #USNRL100 on social media.

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

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