Harvey Cornelius Hayes, physicist, had a long tenure (1923-1947) as the first Superintendent of the Sound Division (later renamed Acoustics Division) at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, D.C. In the period prior to World War II, Hayes led a small group of only five to eight researchers that was devoted to developing active (echo-ranging) sonar and improved passive (listening) sonar for the navy's surface ships and submarines. They developed a tunable type of sonar that found widespread use in World War II. They conducted field experiments to take detailed measurements on the propagation of sound in oceanic acoustic ducts. They developed techniques for silencing "singing" propellers in navy ships and aircraft carriers by sharpening propeller edges. During World War II the Sound Division expanded about twenty-fold and NRL researchers conducted numerous experiments to address navy concerns regarding sonar performance. Sound Division researchers made significant advances including the development of communications equipment for divers, torpedo countermeasures, the development of streamlined domes for ships, control and stabilization of sonar transducers, methods for localization of a submerged target beyond the resolution of the sonar beam, and coordination of sonar systems with fire-control systems.

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