In 1942, the U.S. Navy turned down Dr. Christian Lambertsen’s Amphibious Respirator Unit, which would later become the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or SCUBA. Thank goodness the Office of Strategic Services had an innovative bent and funded the initiative after a demonstration in the Shoreham Hotel’s swimming pool in Washington, D.C., near the National Zoo. The Navy didn’t leverage Dr. Lambersten’s services until 1948, when he trained the Navy’s elite underwater demolition teams on the device.
Today, the challenge of rapidly introducing potentially game-changing technology into the fleet continues. To address this issue, in 2012 the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, commissioned the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC). CRIC comprises junior officers and sailors hosted by the Naval Warfare Development Command (NWDC) in Norfolk, just far enough from Washington to fly its orbit fairly unencumbered.