e-News Stories 2018 Q1

Department of Interior Proposes Offshore Wind Leasing, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Calls for Interest

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke last week announced the proposed lease sale for two additional areas offshore the U.S. state of Massachusetts for commercial wind energy leasing, totaling nearly 390,000 acres. A Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Massachusetts was published in the Federal Register April 11, 2018 and includes a 60-day public comment period.

The document provides detailed information concerning the area available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details (e.g., criteria for evaluating competing bids and award procedures) and lease execution. Comments received electronically or postmarked by the end of the public comment period will be made available to the public and considered before the publication of the Final Sale Notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale. For information on how to submit comments, visit https://www.boem.gov/Massachusetts/.

In addition, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a call for information and nominations to obtain nominations from companies interested in commercial wind energy leases within the proposed area in the New York Bight. This region represents an area of shallow waters between Long Island (to the north and east) and the New Jersey coast (to the south and west).

BOEM also seeks public input on the potential for wind energy development in the call area. This includes site conditions, resources and multiple uses in close proximity to, or within, the call areas that would be relevant to BOEM’s review of any nominations submitted, as well as BOEM’s subsequent decision whether to offer all or part of the call areas for commercial wind leasing.

The four call areas include 222 whole Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) blocks and 172 partial blocks and comprise approximately 2,047 sq. mi. The call includes a 45-day public comment period. A map of the call areas can be obtained via BOEM’s website at: www.boem.gov/NY-Bight/, which also includes instructions on how to comment.

Caption: An aerial view of Block Island Wind Farm, the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S. (Photo Credit: Image used under Creative Commons permissions from users Ionna22/Finavon.)

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, BOEM


Natural Processes and Ecological Forces Can
Help Drive Recovery of Coral Reef Ecosystems

Global declines of coral reefs—particularly in the Caribbean—have spurred efforts to grow corals in underwater nurseries and transplant them to enable recovery. However, current approaches rarely incorporate the key ecological reef processes critical to facilitating restoration and improving the odds of success.

In a new paper published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) scientists and their colleagues advocate for the integration of essential natural processes to exploit dynamic ecological forces and drive recovery of coral reef ecosystems. Using existing scientific literature coupled with original research, they outline a scientific framework aimed at advancing the emerging field of coral restoration.

“We don’t have a lot of science to guide how we actually conduct coral restoration,” said co-author Deron Burkepile, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology (EEMB). “The next phase of coral restoration must focus on harnessing ecological processes that drive community dynamics on coral reefs to help facilitate the establishment and growth of restored corals.”

The researchers examined five critical ecological processes—herbivory, competition, predation, nutrient cycling and recruitment—that drive coral reef functions to determine how to maximize recovery of an endangered coral species, Acropora cervicornis. Also known as staghorn coral, this large fast-growing species is common in the Caribbean.

The ecologists posit that restoration practitioners can control factors such as the density, diversity and identity of corals outplanted as well as site selection and transplant design to restore positive, or break negative, feedback processes—and by doing so increase the success of restoration efforts. Their analysis demonstrates that intermediate densities can maximize growth rates while minimizing mortality—a positive density-dependent feedback.

Caption: A juvenile blue tang swims amid staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. (Photo Credit: Mark Ladd)

Source: University of California, Santa Barbara


Office of Naval Research Develops
New Approach to Warfighter Innovation

Responding to a call from top military leaders to accelerate delivery of technology to the warfighter, officials from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) in March launched a program designed to spur innovation in the Navy and Marine Corps. The kickoff session—held at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California—officially began the Naval Innovation Process Adoption, or NIPA.

The NIPA program is designed to solve problems facing naval organizations, from contracts to warfare centers. It includes timelines to move an idea into a research phase and on to delivery of prototypes, and it is based upon giving the Navy and Marine Corps a common language and approach for solving those problems. Currently, technology development and acquisition can take years. In some cases, new technology is outdated by the time it reaches the warfighter.

NIPA is based on a method called H4X, which combines some of the best entrepreneurial methodologies found in Silicon Valley, and it was designed by Steve Blank, an adjunct professor at Stanford University; retired Army Col. Pete Newell, former head of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force; and the team at BMNT, a company that builds tools to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.

H4X is a problem-solving method used by various organizations across the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies. Hacking for Defense, or H4D for short, is a variant offered by a growing number of universities to create a pipeline of young technologists and entrepreneurs who are willing to take on some of the nation’s toughest challenges.

“Using best-of-breed tools and methodologies, H4X was built as an evidence-based, data-driven, disciplined process for solving the world’s toughest challenges at speed and scale,” said Pete Newell of BMNT Partners. “We are exceptionally proud of the results achieved by others who have applied it in the DoD and intelligence agencies, and look forward to seeing it drive innovation for our naval forces.”

Caption: Dr. Richard Carlin (left), head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department, and retired Army Col. Pete Newell, managing partner, BMNT Partners. (Photo Credit: David McGinn)

Source: Office of Naval Research


GenNx360 Capital Partners
Acquires Subsea Global Solutions

GenNx360 Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm that invests in middle-market business services and industrial companies, announced acquisition of Subsea Global Solutions, effective March 29, 2018.

Subsea is a provider of underwater vessel maintenance, inspection and repair services to vessel owners and operators within diversified marine transportation and construction sectors. Subsea services include hull and propeller fleet management, underwater wet welding, seal replacement, tunnel thruster repair, azimuth thruster repair, and environmental hull cleaning. The company provides both routine hull maintenance services to drive fuel efficiencies and highly technical repair solutions allowing vessel operators to reduce dry-docking costs, while keeping the vessel in service. The company is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and operates out of 12 facilities worldwide.

“GenNx360 is pleased to make this investment in Subsea,” said Matt Guenther, the GenNx360 Managing Partner who led the transaction. “Subsea is a world-class organization that is extremely well-positioned to capitalize on the increasing demand for innovative underwater maintenance and repair techniques and services. We look forward to working with Subsea’s strong, experienced management team to broaden its offerings through organic growth and strategic add-on acquisitions and expand its geographic reach, both in the U.S. and abroad.”

“We chose GenNx360 as our partner as we believe they are uniquely capable of supporting the company’s continued growth in existing and new markets,” Paul Peters, CEO and president of Subsea, said. “The Subsea team is excited to partner with GenNx360 in continuing to build the company to the next level.”

Source: PR Newswire


Gavin Scandlyn Joins RBR for
Asia-Pacific Business Development

RBR Ltd. is continuing to support the rapid global growth of new customers and applications by establishing a direct presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The company announced that Gavin Scandlyn joined the RBR team as business development manager. Providing sales, technical and business development support for customers and local agents, Scandlyn will be based in New Zealand and primarily involved in New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

Scandlyn joins RBR with a broad background in business communications, marketing and sales, having previously worked as marketing manager for one of RBR’s agents. Currently based in New Zealand, he has lived and worked in Japan, South Korea and Australia, and shares RBR’s keen interest in supporting the Asia-Pacific region.

Source: RBR Ltd.


From the Seafloor to the Drug Store:
Amy Wright on Marine Natural Products

Those were the glory days. Amy Wright would plop down into the seat inside a giant acrylic dome to be submerged 3,000 ft. underwater, with a front-row seat on the wonders far below the waters off the Florida coast. It was Wright’s first job as a chemist. She didn’t know it then, but she was riding a wave that would rise from expeditions in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible vehicles to the breakthrough inventions in medicine she is known for today.

Days spent diving from a research ship and using robotic equipment on a manned submersible vehicle allowed Wright and her collaborators to travel to underwater vistas in the depths where, over the course of the next few decades, they would collect thousands of samples of marine invertebrates, the source materials for marine natural products.

“They had these amazing ships and subs and scuba diving. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” Wright said. “It was great. We got to go some amazing places that I don’t think a lot of people get to go, especially in the subs.”

She was working at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute with her former mentor and a veteran of the field, Ken Rinehart, who was a pioneer of drug discovery from marine sources and one of the first to bring natural products into clinical trials, she said. The Johnson-Sea-Link manned submersibles owned by Harbor Branch were invaluable for uncovering useful drug sources from the sea.

“They had decided, here are these amazing subs, they can go collect amazing stuff, how do we use them?” Wright said.

Since then, Wright has been the common denominator on a series of successful projects that have figured out how to use source materials from the sea to create new biological technologies that might hold the answers to society’s most vexing diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, Alzheimer’s, malaria and heart disease.

The samples collected over nearly half a century now total 31,500 specimens, including benthic marine invertebrates and macroalgae, or seaweed, molluscs, corals, sponges and soft sponges, tunicates and marine microbes. Understanding the structure and function of these compounds is Wright’s job.

She uses the samples like we use coffee grounds, extracting chemical compounds the way we extract caffeine in our brew, only she uses a liquid much stronger than water, and she extracts hundreds of natural products from each sample. The extract is concentrated into a goo or powder, which is then separated out into the compounds it contains, leaving pure samples that can be isolated, enhanced and tested to see if they are useful as molecular soldiers.

Image courtesy of Amy Wright (Photo Credit: Brian Cousin)

Read the full story at Sea Technology.