NSWC Dahlgren Scientists Invent New Class of Weapons
The first Navy Distinguished Achievement in Science Award (DASA) in 14 years was presented by Rear Adm. Archer Macy, commander of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), to Drs. William Holt and Willis Mock, Jr. at an awards ceremony held Sept. 7 at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) headquarters located at the historic Washington Navy Yard. Mock and Holt were the first NAVSEA scientists to receive the prestigious and rarely given Navy DASA award, which enables the Secretary of the Navy to recognize pioneering scientific extraordinary and significant achievements of a pioneering “breakthrough” nature and with far-reaching consequences.
The NSWC Dahlgren scientists’ discovery of a revolutionary approach for using plastic materials for Navy ordnance applications has “the potential for providing an entirely new class of weapons… and has opened the door to applications that will have an impact on the Navy and the other services for years to come,” according to Navy officials who endorsed the award.
Secretary of the Navy Gordon England recognized them for their co-discovery of reactive materials effects that “promises to have continuing, far-reaching consequences for the warfighter.” In the citation, England called Mock and Holt’s discovery, “a new and revolutionary approach for using plastic polymer and plastic polymer/ metal combination materials for Navy ordnance applications.”
“The citation for Drs. Holt and Mock talks about what they did in general terms, because a lot about what they really did we can’t talk about,” said Rear Adm. Macy.
Holt and Mock’s work that led to their discovery began in 1971 when they built a 26-foot-long, 40 millimeter bore gun to conduct experiments in shockwave phenomena. In 1991, Holt and Mock fired projectiles at targets with the gas gun and used its research capabilities – the ability to control the projectiles’ velocity and take high-speed pictures at impact to measure the response of the target – to make the reactive materials effects discovery that they were cited for in the award. Their experiments in shock physics over the past 34 years have resulted in numerous discoveries that are impacting the Navy and other services for years to come.
The initial experiments by Mock and Holt have led to significant new initiatives within the Navy and opened up a new technology area for the Department of Defense (DoD). Due to the high visibility of the technology, the high payoff potential, and the broad application potential, NSWC Dahlgren Division is a leader in the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) broad-based multimillion-dollar national thrust in advanced energetic materials.
“Either Bill Mock or Bill Holt could point to a successful and distinguished individual record of consistent scientific achievement,” said Hugh Montgomery, Executive Director of the Institute for Defense and Homeland Security in another letter to the DASA selection panel. “As a team, however, their rare chemistry has produced a long history of exceptional contributions that will lead to a more effective Navy after next.” The two-man team’s work have produced 19 Navy invention disclosures, patents or patent applications and more than 78 scientific journal publications and technical reports. See full NAVSEA article.