Three months into her tenure as the Undersea Warfare Business Area executive at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., Lisa Blodgett has announced her immediate program priorities.
This month's merger of the Navy's Mine Warfare Command into the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, and recent rounds of high-level meetings on potential threats to U.S. control of the intervening seas, have added emphasis to Blodgett's decision to make anti-submarine and mine warfare among her top priorities.
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) — depriving the enemy of effective use of its submarines — remains the linchpin of sea control, she says. "Forward presence and expeditionary warfare have risen to the top of the Navy's priorities, and so potential threats to our control of the intervening seas — submarine threats being among the gravest of these — are increasingly unacceptable," she explains. "Effective ASW capabilities will be the essential element of our success in future crises and conflicts."
Under Blodgett's tenure, which began in July, ASW is one of three pillars that will guide the work of the business area, she says. "In addition to our traditionally strong roles in active and passive acoustic systems development and evaluation, we've recently performed several key ASW studies for the Navy. The Chief of Naval Operations has held several meetings focusing on ASW and the ‘way ahead,' signaling a potential increase in technology development. We intend to be poised to help our sponsors in this area."
Submarine Security and Survivability
Submarine security and survivability will be another focus area, she says. The Navy's Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN) security technology program — which provides authoritative assessments of the vulnerability of U.S. ballistic missile submarine to detection and attack — is the Lab's largest, longest-term undersea warfare program. APL has been the Navy's lead laboratory for more than 30 years, providing critical information about the detection shortfalls and opportunities for exploitation, including the development of countermeasures. APL has also served as a kind of "skunk works" for the Navy, providing a fundamental understanding of submarine signatures and transitioning concepts and technologies to antisubmarine warfare programs.
In 2004, the program was expanded to include Ship Submersible Nuclear (SSN) and Submersible Ship Guided Nuclear (SSGN) platforms within its scope. "We recently participated in a foundations assessment of that program," Blodgett says. "So we are stepping back and looking at that pillar to determine what needs to change. That program will certainly undergo a transformation over the next few years as the world's context continues to shift."
Global War on Terrorism
Undersea warfare's applicability to the Global War on Terrorism will be the business area's third focus.
"This is a new area for us," Blodgett explains. "We are looking to increase our contribution to this area at the same time that the Navy is trying to determine its role. Some of it will involve building on work we've done for the Office of Naval Intelligence, and we'll be able to leverage some of our work on unattended ground sensors that we do with the Homeland Security Business Area and some of the work we've done in port security. So we have a good starting point."
When Blodgett joined the Lab in 1991, her interests were in signal and image processing, as well as control systems. "I was impressed by the work the Lab was doing in signal processing and classification," says Blodgett, who received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University.
She briefly performed laboratory measurements and computer modeling for the Fleet Systems Department's Electro Optics Group, before heading to the Submarine Technology Department (now the National Security Technology Department) for 12 years as a project manager, section supervisor and group supervisor. In 2003, she became the branch head and program area manager for Applied Maritime Technologies. During her time at APL she also earned master's degrees in electrical and computer engineering and technical management from Johns Hopkins.
"A lot of my previous work has focused on project execution," she says. "I'm excited about being able to contribute at a broader level for the business area and department."
A resident of Ellicott City, Md., Blodgett succeeds David Scheerer, who was appointed assistant to the NSTD head for Strategy, Planning and Coordination. For more information on APL's undersea warfare programs and capabilities, visit http://www.jhuapl.edu/areas/undersea/index.asp.