The 2000 Report of the President's Panel for Ocean Exploration, "Discovering Earth's Final Frontier: A U.S. Strategy for Ocean Exploration," outlined a vision and a strategy for establishing a national program focused on exploring the world's unknown ocean. In response to this report, NOAA established the first federal program deliberately focused on ocean exploration.
In 2009, recognizing the success and value of ocean exploration, Congress officially authorized the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program in Public Law 111-11, Title XII (Oceans), Subtitle A (Ocean Exploration), Part I (Exploration). This law called upon the NOAA program to continue to develop and engage in partnerships with other government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and private industry to truly establish a dedicated national ocean exploration program to catalyze future research and better inform ocean resource management decisions.
On May 7-8, 2012, a 13-member Ocean Exploration Review Panel conducted the first-ever formal, independent review of the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program. The review was administered under the auspices of, and reported to, the NOAA Science Advisory Board. This review provided a unique opportunity to consider the ocean exploration program that had evolved over the previous 10 years and to make recommendations to position the program for even greater success in the future.
The Science Advisory Board accepted the Review Panel's final report during its November 2012 meeting, commending NOAA for establishing an innovative ocean exploration program and encouraging NOAA leadership to continue to lead and support the establishment of a national program as initially envisioned by the President's Panel. The Science Advisory Board referred the report recommendations to NOAA leadership for further action.
Program Review documents and the full report may be downloaded below.