Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Ocean Science and the British Cold War State

  • Samuel Robinson

    Student thesis: Phd


    'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Ocean Science and the British Cold War State'This study focuses on the significant investment in oceanography that typified Cold War Britain. Thanks to the analysis of untapped archival records, it documents the remarkable growth of marine research in the UK, and its underlying ambitions, from the end of Second World War naval exercises to the deployment of nuclear submarines in the Atomic Age. In particular, it looks at the significance of sea studies in the context of British naval operations, the surveillance of enemy vessels at sea, and the gathering of intelligence on the capabilities of enemy forces.In so doing, it depicts the trajectory of what was at the time dubbed "military oceanography" from its ascendancy in the post-war years to the creation of an national organization (the National Institute of Oceanography, NIO), devoted to pursue novel research, to its re-configuration during the 1970s marking an important transition from military to civilian (environmentally-driven) studies.The thesis discusses the complexities of the Cold War British State. It reveals the connections between leading scientists, government administrators, and military officers, and their interplay in the establishment and development of oceanographic studies. The thesis contends that at the core of the political-scientific interface there are policy networks and that we can gain a better understanding of this interaction by looking at some of the key figures, or "nodes" in these networks. It thus uses the career of the NIO director, the marine scientist George Deacon, as a source to gain entrance into the historical path of British oceanography, and argues that by looking at Deacon as a mediator (or "go-between") one can gain a better understanding of the dynamics and historical evolution of the policy networks he participated in.Samuel Alexander Robinson.7th January 2015.(The University of Manchester).Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorJeff Hughes (Supervisor) & Simone Turchetti (Supervisor)


    • Oceanography
    • History of Science
    • Cold War
    • History of Science Policy

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