Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cool People Profile: Dr. John Piña Craven

Name: Dr. John Piña Craven
Age: 86
Nationality: USA
Profession: Consultant, deposed King
Employer: Common Heritage Corporation
Quote: "The oceans are the biggest solar collector on Earth, and there's enough energy in them to supply a thousand times the world's needs. If you want to depend on nature, the oceans are the only energy source big enough to tap."

Social Networking
1. Old-fashioned meetings face-to-face and via email

2. Ocean Energy Prospectus

Dr. John P. Craven describes himself as a marine mammal and an ancient mariner. His interest in living as a marine mammal came when he was designated (in his words, "through a bureaucratic mistake") the Project Manager of SeaLab II and III, a project he took over from George Bond, Walter Mazzone, and Robert Barth, and aimed at designing an environment where humans could live and work submerged for months at ocean depths between 100 - 1000 feet.

He also considers himself to be living life in reverse since he was 50 years old because he says that by counting backwards if he reaches his 100th birthday, he'll be in diapers again. On his 79th birthday, his children gave him the choice of picking between two gifts, one celebrating 79 years old and the other celebrating 21 years old. He proudly declared he'd celebrate his 21st birthday. Upon opening the box he had a 6-pack of cheap beer. Curious about what he was given for his 79th birthday, but having to stand by his decision, he saw a bottle of 30 year old scotch, proving that there are often consequences to living by one's convictions.

Dr. Craven has worn many hats, so many in fact that he considers himself as a king deposed every seven years. He holds a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Caltech, a PhD from the University of Iowa, and a JD from The National Law Center of The George Washington University.

1. Dr. Craven served as an enlisted sailor in World War 2 on the Battleship USS New Mexico. In his words, the men in his family either became priests or sailors, so he chose to become a sailor, which spawned his lifelong love affair with the mistress of the sea.

2. Dr. Craven has had more than 40 years of experience innovating, developing, designing, constructing, and operationally deploying major oceanic systems. Some of the key projects he was involved with in this respect includes the development of modern nuclear submarines and swath ships. He was the Project Manager for the US Navy's Polaris Program, eventually becoming Chief Scientist. He was involved in "the hunt for the Red September" (a successful US search for a downed Soviet submarine that became dramatized in the story and film "The Hunt for the Red October"). Through pioneering Bayesian search techniques, he was also instrumental in the US Navy's search for a missing hydrogen bomb lost off Palomares, Spain in 1966 when a B-52 bomber crashed and he helped find the submarine Scorpion, lost off the Azores. The cover story for the program was the idea of "mining for manganese nodules" on the seabed, which Dr. Craven designed as a plausible cover while the US Navy searched for the Scorpion.

3. He was Marine Affiars Coordinator for the state of Hawaii and Dean of Marine Programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he founded the Marine Option Program, the first undergraduate marine-focused specialty at the University outside of the Oceanography program. He taught for a number of years the 2-semester course "Sea and Society" and helped encourage the formation of a Maritime Archaeology and History graduate certificate program (now defunct).

4. He was Director of the International Law of the Sea Institute and was the chief architect of the Exclusive Economic Zone delimitations now commonplace among all countries with coastlines.

5. He founded the Common Heritage Corporation to develop a technique of taking deep ocean water and piping it to the surface (called Ocean Thermal Exchange Conversion, or OTEC, technology) for agriculture (by piping underground in arid or hot climates, condensation forms on the cold water pipes, and allows agriculture where previously it was impossible through conventional techniques), sustainable electricity generation (through running a turbine driven on hot air and cold water exchange), and creating cheap air conditioning (by running cold water through a radiator before piping back to the ocean) and in the process creating fresh water from air condensation.

For never giving up and continuing to work for the betterment of human kind well into the years many are content to retire, and for always dancing to the tune of his own drummer (often with a lifestyle straight out of a Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth novel) while continuously inspiring others to do the same, Dr. John Craven is certainly a cool person!


  1. Definitely a very cool guy! And a good friend and colleague for nearly 50 years! Happy Birthday John, on October 31st. Jack Davidson

    1. For those interested, I've also found another nice work up (with more recent picture of my former professor) on the following blog: