Defending the waters

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A look at the work of the Naval Research Board

During the past several weeks, this column has been discussing the opportunities offered by various institutions under the Defence Research and Development Organisation. It has a great vision of achieving our country’s glory through establishing a world-class science and technology base and providing our defence services a decisive edge by equipping them with internationally competitive systems and solutions.

As part of this endeavour, the DRDO set up the Naval Research Board in 1996, with a view to strengthening the knowledge base related to the naval environment: Naval Research Board (NRB), DRDO Bhawan, Rajaji Marg, New Delhi-110 105; Web site:

The Board provides a variety of research opportunities in diverse disciplines. An outstanding feature is that it focuses not only on applications but also on basic scientific research. It has instituted a grant-in-aid scheme to nurture research talent and to create research facilities in the IITs, universities, higher technological institutions, colleges, industries and other research centres. It encourages and funds basic research in scientific disciplines relevant to our Navy. There are six main areas of research.



Sonar and signal behaviour

Ocean environment

Scientific computing

Marine systems

One of the prime objectives of the Board is the generation and enhancement of the knowledge base leading to the exploitation of the sea for military purposes. Research proposals are being invited focussing on areas where a lack of understanding is a serious obstacle to scientific or technological progress. The research contemplated should promote basic research, generating new knowledge potentially useful to the Navy, and train young minds to generate and apply that knowledge for naval purposes. The Board constantly interacts with prominent research organisations in India and abroad.

Let us now take a look at the essentials of studies carried out in the six areas of research, which will enlighten prospective researchers on the wealth of opportunities offered to them.


The Board aims at developing advanced materials for the Indian Navy’s requirements. The following are some of the areas of emphasis:

Bio-processing of polymers and composites required for soft and flexible materials and structures.

Composites and stealth technology for marine environment (Stealth technology can be any military technology involving advanced design and specialised materials intended to make vehicles or missiles nearly invisible to enemy radar or other electronic detecting device.)

Magnetic anomaly detection techniques for underwater surveillance.

Materials for transmission, reflection, and absorption of acoustic signals.

New strategic materials

Plastic adhesives, rubber and composites with targeted structural, acoustic and electromagnetic performance levels.

Smart composites including sensors and conductors.

Studies on the effect of moisture, salinity, low temperature, high hydrostatic pressure and cyclic impact loads on the performance and durability of the products.

Unconventional concepts in material development and processing.


This is the scientific study of the motion of fluids, especially non-compressible liquids, under the influence of internal and external forces.

It is concerned with all aspects of flow past a moving, stationary, submerged or free surface piercing a disturbed water body. The objective of studies in this segment is to design, develop, produce and implement better, faster, superior, more efficient and versatile naval vehicles. The areas of work include the following:

Cavitation and bubble flow.

Hydrodynamics in design.

Measurement of flow details in the stern region (back of the ship)

Pressure on propeller blades under unsteady loading.

Propeller hydrodynamics and hydro-acoustics.

Ship motions and wave loads.

Turbulence measurement.

Viscous flow over submerged bodies.

Wave and wake dynamics

Sonar and signal behaviour

Sonar (sound navigation ranging) is a technique for detecting and determining the distance and direction of underwater objects by tracking acoustic echoes. Sound waves emitted by, or reflected from, an object are detected by sonar and analysed.

This method is used for the extensive surveillance of our coastline and waters for protecting our maritime interests.

The studies in this division cover the following.

Environment modelling.

Space-time signal processing.

Sensing methods and techniques.

Non-conventional signal and information processing.

Ocean environment

Our Navy personnel are continuously engaged in missions in our waters. The behaviour of the ocean environment is crucial in their operations. It may be necessary to monitor and forecast parameters such as winds, sea state and subsurface temperature. Acoustic and magnetic studies and chemical and satellite oceanography are some of the areas of studies under this unit.

Scientific computing

Advanced computing technologies are integrated for optimising naval operations.

Marine systems

Path-breaking research and development efforts are being made in the areas of underwater sensors, control systems, subsystems for underwater vehicles, remotely operated and autonomous moorings, dynamic positioning, navigation, inertial systems and so on.



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