In addition to providing financial support for much of the oceanographic research conducted at universities and research institutions in the U.S., the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports much of the infrastructure and facilities for the conduct of ocean science. It is an ongoing process to assess whether the facilities and support mechanisms that NSF provides to the community are optimal for conducting oceanographic research, and if not, to make the changes that are required. Building upon research community input and with the endorsement of two National Research Council reports, (NRC 2000, 2003) it has been demonstrated that in order to meet data collection requirements for modern ocean science research, new types of infrastructure are needed that are capable of providing long-term, high-resolution observations of critical environmental parameters on appropriate time and space scales. Consequently, the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) has been working to secure funds to construct an ocean observatory network. Funds for the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) are being sought through NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account. OOI infrastructure will provide the oceanographic research and education communities with new modes of access to the ocean. The OOI has three primary elements: 1) a regional cabled network consisting of interconnected sites on the seafloor spanning several geological and oceanographic features and processes (most likely to be initiated in the northeast Pacific Ocean), 2) relocatable deep-sea buoys that could also be deployed in harsh environments such as the Southern Ocean, and 3) new construction or enhancements to existing systems leading to an expanded network of coastal observatories.