Family Donates Collection Highlighting Distinguished Career

5/13/1999 - 17-99r
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Successive generations carry on research

Dr. Harvey C. Hayes, a distinguished scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory from 1923 until 1952, pioneered the world of ocean acoustics and sparked a family interest in underwater science that has lasted for three generations. Dr. Hayes 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. He died in 1968.

Dr. Hayes was the first superintendent of NRL's Sound Division (now Acoustics Division), serving from 1923 to 1952. The development of underwater acoustics at NRL played an important role during World War II, which was noted in a letter to Dr. Hayes by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. Further affirmation of the signficance of Dr. Hayes' work came from Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz of the German Navy, During the latter part of the war, the German submarine commander remarked that "the enemy has rendered the U-boat ineffective, not by superior tactics or strategy, but through superiority in the field of science which finds its expression in the modern battle weapon: detection." Over the years, Dr. Hayes was honored with many scientific awards, a research vessel was christened with his name and an underwater mountain is also named for him.

Gordon Hayes, the son of Dr. Hayes, is donating historical memorabilia to NRL in a ceremony on May 21. The collection of medals, papers and letters, including the correspondence from FADM Nimitz, will be placed on permanent display at NRL. The younger Hayes, who was an amateur radio operator as a young man, later worked at NRL from 1942 to 1949 on the identification friend or foe program, and on radar beacons. He then went to work at the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory (now the Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUWC)) in New London, Connecticut, where, following in his father's footsteps, Gordon worked on underwater systems such as torpedo countermeasures, sonar systems like the SQS-36 and on acoustic environmental measurements.

Bernard Cole, stepson of Gordon Hayes also worked for NUWC, from 1960 to 1995. He is a recognized expert in shallow water acoustics and has worked on many programs, including OMAT, which provided measurements of the acoustic environment in the Mediterranean Sea. James Cole, also a stepson of Gordon Hayes, worked in NRL's Acoustics Division from 1978 to 1986 and, along with three other colleagues, is considered a pioneer in fiber optics sensors and fiber optic hydrophones for underwater acoustic detection.

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