Admiralty Research Laboratory

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Admiralty Research Laboratory
Flag of the the Navy Board 1975 to 2003.png
Department overview
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
HeadquartersAdmiralty Building
Parent DepartmentDepartment of Admiralty

The Admiralty Research Laboratory (ARL) was a research laboratory that supported the work of the Department of Admiralty based at Teddington, London, England from 1921 to 1977.[1]


In 1921, the Admiralty Research Laboratory was established replacing the Admiralty Experimental Station. Its main fields of research expanded to include oceanography (it housed the National Institute of Oceanography, 1949–1953); electromagnetics and degaussing; underwater ballistics; visual aids; acoustics; infra-red radiation; photography and assessment techniques. In 1931 ARL’s research on large capacity lead-acid batteries for submarines was sufficiently advanced for the work to be carried through to conclusion by Admiralty Engineering Laboratory. It moved to Teddington, southwest of London, so that it could benefit from the expertise of the National Physical Laboratory. In 1951 it absorbed the work and staff of the Admiralty Hydro-Ballistic Research Establishment. In 1977 it was absorbed into the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment. The laboratory had a number of specialist research groups.[2]

Structure of Department

The work of the laboratory was divided between a number of specialist research groups.[3]

Acoustics Group

Established in 1927 The Acoustics Group’s work on Echo Detection ASDIC (active sonar) was considered sufficiently mature that it was transferred to HMS Osprey at Portland, for the development of service equipment. This group also worked on the noise generated by ships and submarines.[4]

Fluid Dynamics Group

Established in 1927 the Fluid Dynamics Group concentrated on the dynamics of the motion and behaviour of warships, submarines and torpedoes, in order to increase efficiency and reducing the acoustic noise generated.[5]

Fire Control Group

The Fire Control Group was established in 1939 it developed a concept of stabilised platforms successfully used for torpedo depth and direction control, searchlights, gun directors and guns. In 1943 it became a separate establishment, the Admiralty Gunnery Establishment under the control of the Director, Naval Ordnance.[6]

Optics Group

Established mid way through world war two it developed the use of TV for the transmission of photographs from aircraft to ships.[7]

Wave Group

The Wave Group was formed in 1944. Its work was used to predict the sea conditions for the Normandy Landings. In 1949 The Wave Group was renamed the National Institute of Oceanography and moved to its own establishment near Wormley, Surrey in 1955.[8]


  1. "Admiralty Research Laboratory - Graces Guide". Graces Guides. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  2. Graces Guides.
  3. Graces Guides.
  4. Graces Guides.
  5. Graces Guides.
  6. Graces Guides.
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  8. Graces Guides.