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New Frontiers of Oceanology and “Environmentalism”

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Ocean Science and the British Cold War State
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Abstract

Following the drastic changes in the political administration of the Institute by the British government in the early 1960s the NIO had to confront a very different funding and research landscape. In this chapter I argue that they did this through a combination of looking for new research environments, continuing existing military relationships, and working for ocean science to become associated with industry through the new discipline of oceanology. The rise of environmental concern and industrial interest in exploiting ocean resources are examined against the background of new resource security concerns in a world expected to simultaneously confront the population bomb, the pollution crisis, and man’s destruction of the natural environment.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Robert Cockburn, “Science, Defence and Society,” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 115:5131 (June, 1967): 548.

  2. 2.

    On the shifting relationship between science and the military during the late 1960s, see John Krige, “The Peaceful Atom as Political Weapon, Euratom and American Foreign Policy in the late 1950s,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 38:1 (2008): 5–44; Simone Turchetti, Simon Naylor, Katrina Dean, Martin Siegert, “On thick ice: scientific internationalism and Antarctic affairs, 1957–1980,” History & Technology, 24:4 (2008): 351–376; Mark Solovey, “Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics-patronage-social science nexus,” Social Studies of Science, 31:2 (2001): 171–206; Holger Nehring, “National Internationalists: Britain and West German Protests against Nuclear Weapons, the politics of Transnational Communications and the Social History of the Cold War, 1957–1964,” Contemporary European History, 14:4 (2005): 559–582.

  3. 3.

    Peder Roberts, ‘“What has all this got to do with science?’ The Rhetoric of Scientific devotion in British Government plans for the International geophysical year,” Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop of the SCAR Action Group on the History of Antarctic Research, https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/BPRC_Tech_Rept_2011-01.pdf accessed 19/2/2014.

  4. 4.

    ‘Research Reshaped: Commons Debate on Technology’, The Guardian, 12 December 1964; see also Chap. 5 of this book.

  5. 5.

    As shown by Simone Turchetti, Deacon continued to partake in the NATO oceanography sub-committee on behalf of British oceanographers. Simone Turchetti, “Sword, Shield and Buoys: A History of the NATO Sub-Committee on Oceanographic Research, 1959–1973”, Centaurus 54:3 (2012) 226.

  6. 6.

    Laughton was said “[to have] had the most experience of towing things near the bottom with pingers attached and is interested in high resolution bathymetry, would be able to discuss the problems”, from letter from Brian S. McCartney to M.J. Daintith (Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment), 30 December 1970, Secret, GERD Papers D5/3, NOC Library (Southampton).

  7. 7.

    See footnote 6 above.

  8. 8.

    MILOC (Military Oceanography) surveys were conducted under the auspices of NATO Defence Research Directors; letter from H.W.K. “Bill” Kelly (Director, Naval Physical Research) to Deacon, 26 August 1968, GERD Papers, D5/3, NOC Library (Southampton).

  9. 9.

    See John Krige, “NATO and the strengthening of western science in the post-Sputnik era,” Minerva 38:1 (2000): 81–108; Simone Turchetti, “Sword, Shield and Buoys: A History of the NATO Sub-Committee on Oceanographic Research, 1959–1973,” Centaurus 54:2 (2012): 205–231.

  10. 10.

    See correspondence between Deacon and Captain Godfrey French (R.N. Hydrography Office) 1964–5, GERD Papers, D8/1, NOC Library (Southampton).

  11. 11.

    ‘The Future of Marine Science’, drafted by George Deacon, undated [but early 1965], GERD Papers, D1/10, NOC Library (Southampton).

  12. 12.

    Particularly for surveillance or sensitive surveying work; see Chap. 4 of this book.

  13. 13.

    Board committees functioned much like sub-committees or working parties, and reported to the board of the Admiralty, which was chaired by the First Sea Lord, Sir David Luce (ex-submarine commander).

  14. 14.

    Ministry of Defence Office Memorandum (Navy Department), 25 November 1964, N/RDF19/64, DEFE 69/485,TNA (London).

  15. 15.

    ‘The Future of Marine Science’, drafted by George Deacon, undated [but early 1965], GERD Papers, D1/10, NOC Library (Southampton).

  16. 16.

    Ibid.

  17. 17.

    Ibid.

  18. 18.

    Ibid.

  19. 19.

    At the time Bullard was building ever stronger relationships with American colleagues, such as Roger Revelle, whilst Deacon seemed to merely exacerbate them. See letter from Revelle to Bullard, 25 February 1964, ECBP, C.18, CAC.

  20. 20.

    Letter from Deacon to Fredrick Brundrett (Scientific Adviser to the Civil Service Commission), 9 February 1965, GERD Papers, D1/10, NOC Library (Southampton).

  21. 21.

    Despite official retirement Frederick Brundrett continued working for the Civil Service Commission, and as an overseer of the administration of the civil service across Whitehall. For further information see the extensive correspondence between the two contained within the GERD papers at Southampton.

  22. 22.

    “Address of the President, Lord Florey, O.M., at the Anniversary Meeting, 30 November 1965,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 163:993, (Jan. 18, 1966): 425–434.

  23. 23.

    JFK first used the term “new frontier” in his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for the 1960 presidential election. See John F. Kennedy, ‘Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States, 15 July, 1960.’ Available at: http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready- Reference/JFK-Speeches/. Quote: ‘We stand at the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, a frontier of unknown opportunities and beliefs in peril. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.’

  24. 24.

    A. Michaelis, “Neglected Riches of the Deep,” Daily Telegraph, 22 January 1966.

  25. 25.

    N.H. Gaber and D.F. Reynolds, “Economic Opportunities in the Oceans,” Battelle Technical Review, 14:13 (December 1965): 5–11.

  26. 26.

    Letter from Deacon to R.J.H. Beverton, 27 April 1966, GERD Papers, D8/1, NOC Library (Southampton).

  27. 27.

    Quoted in Hilary Rose and Stephen Rose, Science and Society (London: Allen Lane, 1969): 108.

  28. 28.

    Ibid., 109.

  29. 29.

    ‘Supplement to Annual Report for Year Ending 31 March 1950: Application of the Institute’s work to Defence Problems.’ This was very similar to the list provided to the Admiralty in 1947, Secret, GERD Papers, D1/3, NOC Library (Southampton).

  30. 30.

    Cartwright, D.E., ‘Some work of the National Institute of Oceanography of Commercial Value to the Nation’, (14 February 1966); Draper, L., ‘Notes on Engineering Benefits’ (18 February 1966), GERD Papers D8/1, NOC Library (Southampton).

  31. 31.

    Richard Goss, “British Ports Policies Since 1945,” Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, 32:1 (1998): 58.

  32. 32.

    Letter Deacon to Raymond Beverton (Secretary of NERC), 27 April 1966, GERD Papers, D8/1, NOC Library (Southampton). Beverton had co-authored with Sydney Holt On the Dynamics of Exploitated Fish Populations (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 1957), an influential early contribution to the overfishing debate.

  33. 33.

    Ibid.

  34. 34.

    Ibid.

  35. 35.

    Ibid.

  36. 36.

    In an article for Science this was claimed to be due to ‘Britain [being] increasingly aware of its perilous economic situations’; Victor K. McElheny, “Oceanography in Britain: Significant New Support,” Science 153:3737 (1966): 727–8.

  37. 37.

    Would go on to build the Thames Barrier (1984) and was part of the consortium which built the Channel Tunnel completed in 1994.

  38. 38.

    Robert Barton, Oceanology Today (London: Aldus, 1970): 23.

  39. 39.

    “Six firms sponsor sea study,” Guardian, 17 July 1965.

  40. 40.

    A. Bambridge, “BP Steps on the gas,” The Observer, 26 September 1965; for more on the Cold War and North Sea oil, see Roberto Cantoni and Leucha Veneer, “Underground and Underwater: Oil Security in France and Britain during the Cold War,” in The Surveillance Imperative: Geosciences during the Cold War and Beyond, ed. Simone Turchetti and Peder Roberts (London: Palgrave, 2014) 55–58.

  41. 41.

    Victor K. McElheny, “Oceanography in Britain: Significant New Support,” Science (12 August 1966): 727–8.

  42. 42.

    On the etymology of the term oceanology, see “oceanology. n.” OED Online. March 2014. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/130221 (accessed 1/5/14); for an earlier discussion of the differentiation between oceanography and oceanology, see James N. Carruthers, “‘A Plea for oceanology,” Deep Sea Research 2:3 (April, 1955): 247.

  43. 43.

    Barton, Oceanology Today 9–10.

  44. 44.

    Richard P. Tucker, “The International Environmental Movement and the Cold War,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Cold War, ed. Richard H. Immerman and Petra Goedde (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013): 565–583; Kai Hünemörder, “Environmental Crisis and Soft Politics: Détente and the Global Environment, 1968–1975,” in Environmental Histories of the Cold War, ed. J.R. McNeill and Corinna R. Unger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010): 257–278.

  45. 45.

    Cantoni and Veener, “Underground and Underwater,” 45.

  46. 46.

    See Iain Stevenson, Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century (London: British Library, 2010): 141–144. One of the major players in this market was Robert Maxwell’s Pergamon Press, but there were also many small publishing houses involved in the market. Some of the most significant titles published in English were Oceanology International; Hydrospace; Ocean Science News; Sea Frontiers; Oceanus; and Ocean Industry. One of the first publications to mix scientific papers with shorter pieces in this style was Nature during the 1920 and 1930s: see Melinda Baldwin, “‘Keeping in the race’: physics, publication speed and national publishing strategies in Nature, 1895–1939,” BJHS, 47:2 (June 2014): 257–280.

  47. 47.

    The White Fish Authority was founded in 1951 as a government body intended to develop the white fish industry. Although it supported the industry in a variety of ways as a trade body, it was primarily intended to be a researching body, so as to improve equipment, and improve catches through fisheries research.

  48. 48.

    This appeared on the journal’s editorial page.

  49. 49.

    This attitude was articulated in Brundrett’s ‘On the Neglected Sea’ (1963); Frederick Brundrett, “The Neglected Sea,” Journal of Navigation, 16:3 (1963): 332–342; DOI: http:/dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0373463300020543 (accessed 1/5/14).

  50. 50.

    Jacob D. Hamblin, Oceanographers and the Cold War: Disciples of Marine Science (Seattle: University of Washington, 2005): 135.

  51. 51.

    M.J. Tucker, R. Bowers, “Oceanographic Equipment: Present Needs, Future Trends,” Hydrospace, 1:1 (November, 1967): 48.

  52. 52.

    The complete editorial board was as follows (job titles as they appeared on the title page) and reflected the wide range of interests in applications of science and technology to the exploitation of ocean resources; Rear Admiral Rawson Benett (ret.) [Former Chief of Naval Research (US)], Arthur C. Clarke [British Scientist and Writer], John H Clotworthy [General Manager, Underseas Div., and vice president Westinghouse Defense & Space Center], Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau [Director, Oceanographic Museum, Monaco], Dr Carey Croneis [Chancellor, Rice University], Dr Harold E. Edgerton [Professor of electrical measurements MIT], Dr Joel W. Hedgpeth [Director, Marine Science Laboratory, Oregon State University], Edwin A. Link [Chief Marine Consultant and Director, Ocean Systems Inc.], Rear Admiral Manley H. Simons (ret.) [Executive Secretary, Marine Technology Society], Dr F. N. Spiess [Director, Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography], Dr Athelstan Spilhaus [Dean, Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota], Richard C. Vetter [Executive Secretary, Committee on Oceanography, National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council], Allyn C. Vine [Senior Oceanographer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution].

  53. 53.

    Frederick Brundrett, “Where are the engineers?,” Hydrospace: quarterly review of ocean management, 1:1 (1967): 17–18.

  54. 54.

    Unlike Oceanology International fellow journal Hydrospace did not publish details of its editorial board and I have been unable to confirm that there ever was one; instead it advertised for submissions to be sent to the editor, Robert Barton, who held a consistent editorial voice in the subsequent issues after Brundrett’s first editorial.

  55. 55.

    Barton, Oceanology Today, 25.

  56. 56.

    Melbourne Briscoe, “A Brief Survey of Military Oceanography at the NATO SACLANT ASW Research Centre,” US Navy Symposium on Military Oceanography: Proceedings Vol. 1, US Naval Oceanographic Office (1969) 67; www.biodiversitylibrary.org/ia/usnavysymposiumo669usna (accessed 1/5/14).

  57. 57.

    Sir Anthony Laughton, interview by Paul Merchant, 29 November 2010, British Library, C1379/29, Transcript (Track 7): 152.

  58. 58.

    Gary Kroll, America’s Ocean Wilderness: A Cultural History of Twentieth Century Exploration, (University of Kansas Press, 2008): 152–188.

  59. 59.

    John Swallow, interview by Margaret Deacon, 30 November 1994, Personal Collection of John Gould, Transcript, 20–4.

  60. 60.

    Barton, Oceanology Today, 166–7.

  61. 61.

    Barton, Oceanology Today, 168. The construction of a side-scan sonar was much more in line with British financial capabilities, compared with the lavish amounts expended by the USA on the Alvin submersible (US$3 million); see Naomi Oreskes, “A Context of Motivation: US Navy Oceanographic Research and the Discovery of Sea-Floor Hydrothermal Vents,” Social Studies of Science, 33:5 (2003): 707.

  62. 62.

    Barbara Moran, The Day we lost the H-Bomb: Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the worst Nuclear Weapons Disasters in History (Random House, 2009): 130.

  63. 63.

    The US Geological Survey maintains a website on the history of the 1980s GLORIA coastal mapping, http://coastalmap.marine.usgs.gov/gloria/. J.V. Gardner, M.E. Field, D.C. Twichell, Geology of the United States Seafloor: The View from GLORIA (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  64. 64.

    Barton, Oceanology Today, 164–7.

  65. 65.

    Anthony Adler, “The Ship as Laboratory: Making Space for Field Science at Sea,” Journal of the History of Biology (2014): 333–362.

  66. 66.

    Viktor K. McElheny, “Oceanography in Britain,” Science, 1966. Deacon commonly argued that the Institute had to maximise the value from resources; see Chap. 4 of this book.

  67. 67.

    McElheny, “Oceanography in Britain,” Science, 1966.

  68. 68.

    Oreskes, “A Context of Motivation,” 697–742.

  69. 69.

    Cantoni and Veener, “Underground and Underwater,” 55–61.

  70. 70.

    This was discovered to be the cause of the Sea Gem’s collapse on 27 December 1965.

  71. 71.

    Jon Agar, “What Happened in the Sixties?,” BJHS, 41:4 (2008): 567–600.

  72. 72.

    This was specifically embodied by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Seabed and the Ocean Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction, which sat from 1968–69; an overview of the arguments can be found in V.P. Nanda, “Some Legal Questions on the Peaceful Uses of Ocean Space,” Virginia Journal of International Law, (May, 1969) 343–407.

  73. 73.

    Turchetti, “Sword, Shield and Buoys,” 220.

  74. 74.

    Jacob D. Hamblin, Poison in the Well, 224.

  75. 75.

    A.C. Simpson, The Torrey Canyon Disaster and Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Laboratory Leaflet No. 18, February 1968): 1.

  76. 76.

    Ibid., 33–36.

  77. 77.

    Torrey Canyon Meeting 2, 26 March 1967, CAB 130/318, TNA (London).

  78. 78.

    Charles More, Black Gold: Britain and oil in the Twentieth Century (London: Continuum, 2009): 127.

  79. 79.

    ‘The Spread of the Torrey Canyon Oil’, read at the British Association Meeting – Leeds 1968, GERD Papers, D8/20, NOC Library (Southampton).

  80. 80.

    Ibid.

  81. 81.

    Ibid. Deacon pointed out that there was extensive German research produced in the wake of the 8,000 tons of crude which leaked from the Gerd Maersk at the mouth of the Elbe in January 1955.

  82. 82.

    Memo ‘Projected British Oceanographical Institute’, 6 October 1947; J.N. Carruthers, GERD Papers, M3/2/7, NOC Library (Southampton).

  83. 83.

    Op.. cit. no.77.

  84. 84.

    Cabinet Office, The Torrey Canyon: Report of the Committee of Scientists on the Scientific and Technological Aspects of the Torrey Canyon Disaster (HMSO, 1967): 47, para.176.

  85. 85.

    Anon., ‘Torrey Canyon: A Postscript’, The Lancet (27 July, 1968): 205; Anon., ‘After the Torrey Canyon’, The Lancet, (6 April 1968): 735; J.E. Smith, “Torrey Canyon” Pollution and Marine Life (Cambridge University Press, 1968).

  86. 86.

    Max Blumer, “Oil Pollution of the Ocean,” Oceanus (1969): 3–7.

  87. 87.

    George R. Hampson and Howard L. Sanders, “Local Oil Spill,” Oceanus (1969): 8–11.

  88. 88.

    See, ‘editorial’, Marine Pollution Bulletin 1:1 (January, 1970); Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962); Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines (London: Vincent Stuart, 1964).

  89. 89.

    P. Wells, et al., “From mimeos to E-copy – a tribute to Professor R B Clark, founding editor of the Marine Pollution Bulletin,” Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46:9 (Sept. 2003): 1051–4.

  90. 90.

    Ibid.

  91. 91.

    P. Cloud, “Mined out! Our diminishing mineral resources,” Ecologist, 1:2 (August, 1970): 25–29.

  92. 92.

    A.J., Puffett, “Prevention of marine pollution,” Ecologist, 1:7 (January, 1971); J.D. George, “Can the seas survive?,” Ecologist, 1:9 (March, 1971); R.T. Coon, “Aluminium and Anglesey,” Ecologist, 1:12 (June, 1971); E. Owen, “The man who sued the Torrey Canyon,” Ecologist, 1:13 (July, 1971).

  93. 93.

    John Sheail, An Environmental History of Britain (Palgrave: London, 2002): 17.

  94. 94.

    Jacob D. Hamblin, “Environmentalism for the Atlantic Alliance: NATO’s Experiment with the ‘Challenges of Modern Society’,” Environmental History, 15:1 (2010): 54–75.

  95. 95.

    Ron Doel, “Constituting the post-war earth sciences,” Social Studies of Science, 33:5 (2003): 635; discussed in Turchetti, “Sword, Shield and Buoys”, 227.

  96. 96.

    Letter from H.W.K. ‘Bill’ Kelly (DNPR, MoD) to Deacon, 26 August 1968, GERD Papers D5/3, NOC Library (Southampton).

  97. 97.

    Letter from Deacon to H.W.K. ‘Bill’ Kelly (DNPR, MoD), 30 August 1968, GERD Papers, D5/3, NOC Library (Southampton).

  98. 98.

    ‘USSR Proposal for co-operative studies of the Southern Ocean’, Minutes of the BNCOR Executive Committee, 22 May 1967, authored by G.Deacon, GERD Papers, D4/7, NOC Library (Southampton).

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Robinson, S.A. (2018). New Frontiers of Oceanology and “Environmentalism”. In: Ocean Science and the British Cold War State. Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73096-7_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73096-7_7

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