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News | June 1, 2020

Welcome Aboard, Rear Adm. Selby! New CNR Takes Helm at Office of Naval Research

By Warren Duffie

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) ushered in a new era of leadership Friday, as Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby—a decorated submarine commander, naval engineer, and acquisition officer—was sworn in as the new Chief of Naval Research (CNR).

In a first for ONR, the change-of-command ceremony took place at ONR headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, but was streamed virtually to the wider CNR community, due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert P. Burke was the guest speaker at the ceremony.

As the new head of ONR, Selby will oversee the roughly $2 billion Department of the Navy budget for naval science and technology programs.

ONR supports science efforts around the world, from basic and conceptual research to applied research and quick-turnaround technologies requested by Sailors and Marines. Established in 1946 by public law, ONR’s mission is to “plan, foster and encourage scientific research in recognition of its paramount importance as related to the maintenance of future naval power, and the preservation of national security.”

“I’m excited and honored to take command of ONR,” said Selby, “which is an essential organization ensuring our Sailors and Marines are fully equipped with the weaponry and technology needed to remain dominant in the battlespace of today and the future.”

Concurrent with the duties of CNR, he also will serve as director, Innovation, Technology Requirements and Test and Evaluation (OPNAV N94).

Selby holds a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering from the University of Virginia—as well as a Master of Science in nuclear engineering and a Nuclear Engineer degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He takes ONR’s helm after serving as the Naval Sea Systems Command’s chief engineer and deputy commander for Ship Design, Integration and Naval Engineering. That command is responsible for providing the engineering and scientific expertise, knowledge, and technical authority necessary to design, build, maintain, repair, modernize, certify, and dispose of the Navy’s ships, submarines, and associated warfare systems.

“ONR is rightly celebrated as the Navy’s leading science and technology organization,” he said. “I hope to build on that legacy by stimulating collaboration and partnerships that will enable our warfighters to tackle the challenges of 21st-century warfare.”

Selby succeeds Rear Adm. David J. Hahn, himself a decorated submarine commander and acquisition officer, who is retiring after a distinguished naval career.

During his tenure as CNR, Hahn promoted a vision to significantly unify and enhance the relevance and responsiveness of ONR to the Department of the Navy. This involved investing in the right scientists to ensure the Navy and Marine Corps are always linked to scientific discovery; providing a steady infusion of relevant technology into existing programs of record; and disrupting adversaries’ calculus through innovative capabilities.

Hahn accelerated development in such areas as directed-energy weapons, cyber, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles.

Hahn said ONR will be in excellent hands with Selby.

“Rear Adm. Selby brings to ONR dynamic leadership, a strong engineering background, and invaluable experience in the federal acquisition process,” said Hahn. “In this time of increased competition with emergent powers, he is the right person to lead the command as it continues to enhance the scientific and technological capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps.”