'Secret' UH Navy Lab Contract Extended

The University of Hawaii and U.S. Navy have agreed to extend their contract to house a controversial military research lab within UH facilities.

The first five-year contract was finalized in 2008 and expired July 14. 

The press release announcing the extension comes more than a week after Civil Beat first inquired about the lab to no avail. 

The release explains that the Navy last March threatened not to extend the agreement because the university wasn’t demonstrating a strong enough commitment to the contract. So UH last September hired a retired Navy admiral, Mike Vitale, to direct the lab. 

The lab has conducted $7.9 million in unclassified research since the first contract was finalized in 2008, according to the press release. Just $196,000 of that research was sponsored by the Navy, suggesting that most of the research was conducted by other military agencies that under the contract can also utilize the lab. 

The university has yet to explain those other studies.

To date, the university and Navy have disclosed few details about research conducted at the lab so far. 

Civil Beat reported last week that the lab was up for a “stealth renewal”; it hasn’t been included as a discussion item on any Board of Regents’ agendas, nor has the public been asked to provide feedback.  

Still, UH President MRC Greenwood said the lab is “very important” to the state’s economy. The university, she said, expects to expand the lab’s capacity, create more jobs and “take research funding there to the next level.”

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Cartoon by John Pritchett. 

— Alia Wong

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