|Dr. John Piña Craven, 1924-2015.|
Dr. Craven, who served as an enlisted Sailor in World War II, was a scientist, professor and Cold War warrior as Chief Scientist, U.S. Navy's Special Projects Office.
He reveals provocative information in "The Silent War" – how USS Halibut (SSGN-587) and deep undersea technology discovered a lost rogue Soviet submarine and how "the United States Navy successfully challenged the Soviet Black Sea Fleet." The result, according to Craven: President Gorbachev became convinced that Soviet leadership was being corrupted and right-wing chauvinistic zealots were gaining control of the military.
He explains the development of the Polaris missile and submarine, SeaLab (which "signaled the occupation of the sea by humans as marine mammals"), and DSRV – Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle, featured in "The Hunt for Red October."
During the Cold War, Craven writes, "A major issue for both sides was freedom of navigation, the right of commerce and the military to have full access to the ocean."
"The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea" shows how science, technology, logic and reason can be employed for the preservation of peace.
Though written before 9/11, Craven's book shows prescience and insights about the threat of global warming, the need for innovation and the danger of privatization in fracturing command and control, especially with respect to nuclear weapons. He even comments on the danger of growing income inequality.
Imagine, this was written in 2001:
"The recent events in North Korea and the Balkans demonstrate that new forms of policing are required. We must guard the undersea and the littorals of the world in the new era of global instability. The coastal zone, the home of our burgeoning population, is also affected by a widening gap between the rich and poor."
|Navy Captains Scott and Mark Kelly at NASA.|
Reading in 2015 his comparison with space exploration and a discussion of undersea psychological tests brings to mind the upcoming Mars-related mission involving twin naval aviators turned astronauts, Captains Scott and Mark Kelly.
Bringing it back to earth, Craven describes his complicated relationship with Adm. Hyman Rickover, comparing their upbringing in families of immigrants in Williamsburg, New York – Craven's family via Scotland and Rickover's from Russia.
|Tunis Augustus MacDonough Craven, U.S. Navy|
Dr. Craven's humility, sense of humor and love of science show through in this book, which is filled with surprises, intrigue and fascinating revelations. For his actions, Craven was most often awarded quietly behind the scenes.
One of Craven's two Distinguished Civilian Service Awards was presented by former Secretary of the Navy John Chafee for the scientist's work with USS Halibut to locate and identify the missing Soviet submarine. President Nixon secretly visited Hawaii to award the Presidential Unit Citation to Halibut's crew, according to Craven.
After his service with the Navy Dr. Craven was marine affairs coordinator for the state of Hawaii. He also served as dean of marine programs at the University of Hawaii and was appointed as director of the Law of the Sea Institute before serving as president of the Common Heritage Corporation.
|USS Halibut (SSGN-587). Photo from New York Times.|
"The discipline of tight security is such that until you are specifically released from its constraints you must follow them to the grave," he writes.
His family provided this obituary: "John moved his family to Honolulu in 1970 for 'one year' and ended up staying for over forty more. John was known for his professional accomplishments as a nationally recognized ocean scientist and marine educator. But with equal zest he embraced music, art and poetry, which he loved to share with everyone he met."
"The Silent War" concludes with a poetic paragraph in tribute to the military and civilian public servants who, with him, helped win the Cold War:
"They also taught us to walk softly and display strength; to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves; to prepare a world for future generations that cannot speak for themselves; to know that actions speak louder than words and, acting as children of the ocean, in the silence of the ocean deeps, to create a silence that is heard around the world."From his obituary, published in the March 29 Honolulu Star-Advertiser: "A celebration of John's remarkable life will be held at Central Union Church on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm, with visitation at 4:30 pm and a reception following the service. In accordance with his wishes, John's ashes will be spread at sea. He was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.
("The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea" by John Piña Craven, former Chief Scientist, U.S. Navy's Special Projects Office, 2001, Simon & Shuster)