This document outlines a ‘proof-of-concept’ for the maritime application of a ship-based LIDAR system for measuring the optical and physical properties in the water column. It is divided up into sections, documenting that there exists today the engineering, modeling and optical expertise to accomplish this task as well as a discussion of the reasons that LIDAR has not become the powerful observational platform that it should have been for horizontally and vertically monitoring optical and physical water column properties. Previous research on this approach has been limited because LIDAR systems have for most cases not been thoroughly calibrated, if at all, nor have LIDARs been focused on above-water, ship-based measurements. Efforts at developing derived product algorithms with uncertainties have been limited. This review concludes that there is a huge potential for the successful application of LIDAR measurements in the marine environment to estimate the vertical distribution of optical and physical properties and that measurement costs can be minimized by deployment of these automated systems on ‘ships-of-opportunity’ and military vessels on a non-interfering basis. Although LIDAR measurements and research have been around since the 1960’s, this approach has not really been investigated by any civilian or military agencies or laboratories even though providing ‘through-sensor performance matrixes’ for existing bathymetry, target detection, underwater communication and imaging should be high on their list.