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Remembering John Pina Craven

Posted February 27, 2015 in Coastal Engineering, In the News, Patrick K. Sullivan

Oceanit Founder and Chairman Dr. Pat Sullivan and Dr. John Pina Craven at Honolulu Country Club in 1996.

The Oceanit community was deeply saddened to hear that John Pina Craven, one of the country’s premier ocean engineers, passed away on 12 February in Honolulu, at age 90.

As the man dubbed the “mad genius from the bottom of the sea” by Wired Magazine, Dr. Craven inspired Oceanit Founder and Chairman Dr. Patrick Sullivan to think outside the box. “Dr. Craven was on my PhD committee,” recalls Dr. Sullivan, “and would fire strange and intriguing questions to force me to think outside traditional approaches to solving problems. Dr. Craven drew from a wealth of technology puzzles he worked on as Chief Scientist of the Polaris program and peppered the context of these problems with Admiral Rickover stories, which challenged the limits of knowledge and physics, while exercising rapid fire analytics.”

Dr. Craven was an enormously influential figure in his pioneering use of the Bayes theorem, a formula that computes probabilities. He was responsible for a number of successful deep-sea recoveries, including the U.S. Navy’s search for the missing hydrogen bomb in the Mediterranean Sea, the search and locating of the submarine USS Scorpion, and a 1968 mission that discovered the sunken Soviet submarine K-129. Dr. Craven also served as a professor to several of the professional engineers and researchers at Oceanit. He is particularly remembered for a course he taught in deep ocean engineering, where students were required to deploy a homemade technology to the bottom of the ocean.

Read more about Dr. Craven’s ocean technology and exploration innovations in a recent New York Times article.