National Academies Press: OpenBook

Memorial Tributes: Volume 21 (2017)

Chapter: JOHN P. CRAVEN

« Previous: ALAN COTTRELL
Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×

images

Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×

JOHN P. CRAVEN

1924–2015

Elected in 1970

“Contributions to the development of sea-based deterrence, deep-submergence vessels, and ocean technology.”

BY NICHOLAS JOHNSON1SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY

JOHN PIÑA CRAVEN, a national leader in the innovation, development, design, construction, and operational deployment of major oceanic systems, died February 12, 2015, at the age of 90, in Honolulu.

John, or “Craven” as he answered the phone, was born October 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. His father, a musician and stock analyst, represented a family naval tradition; on his mother’s side were Barbary pirates—which he said contributed his “black blood.”

He began his studies of ocean technology at the Brooklyn Technical High School and went on to earn a BA from Cornell University (1946), MS from the California Institute of Technology (1947), and in 1951 a PhD in hydraulics and mechanics from the University of Iowa. (He was inducted into the UI College of Engineering’s Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy in 2002.) Most remarkable, and as evidence of his wide-ranging curiosity and abilities, he decided later in life to undertake, and succeeded in acquiring, a law degree from George Washington University!

Much of his professional life and accomplishments involved the Navy, beginning with World War II service aboard the USS

___________________

1 Nicholas Johnson was US maritime administrator (1964–1966).

Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×

New Mexico that led to his rank of ensign. He helped design hulls for nuclear submarines at the David Taylor Model Basin outside Washington (at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Carderock, Maryland).

He later worked as project manager and ultimately chief scientist (1959–1969) for the Navy’s Polaris submarine program and Special Projects Office (Deep Submergence Systems Project; SEALAB). The Defense Department and US Navy each awarded him their highest civilian award, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

He is best known in some scientific circles for his work developing the Bayesian search theory for locating objects lost at sea. This was used on one occasion to find a lost hydrogen bomb, and later in locating a missing submarine.

After his Navy service, he taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a year, before being wooed away by the University of Hawaii. He and his wife, Dorothy Drakesmith Craven, whom he had met at the University of Iowa, moved to Honolulu in 1970. She was a noted speech pathology professor at the University of Hawaii. He served as the university’s dean of Marine Programs, and later as director of its law school’s Law of the Sea Institute. He was also appointed by the governor as Hawaii’s Marine Affairs Coordinator.

President Carter appointed him to the Weather Modification Commission that developed a model for reducing the impact of hurricanes. And his scientific accomplishments supported his acceptance to the prestigious Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

For all his extraordinary and innovative professional contributions to engineering and his country, he was even more remarkable for the breadth and diversity of his activities, talents, curiosity, and inquiring mind. He was an early innovator with multimedia presentations, combining music, video, and stories of the sea. And perhaps inspired by having earned his law degree, he entered politics as a candidate for Congress. He could design underocean cities (or water-based municipal transportation systems) and play the piano; build innovative submarines, write their history (The Silent War: The Cold War

Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×

Battle Beneath the Sea; Simon & Schuster, 2001), and find them when they went missing; and sing both opera and Pete Seeger songs (he earlier sang in the choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City).

He would start his days with 50 pushups and an ocean swim, and often end them with a cigar and a winning poker game. He constructed innovative project management tools (the project evaluation and review technique, PERT) and wrote haiku. He mastered both engineering and law while maintaining a body that successfully competed in marathons and rough-water swims with athletes half his age. He could theorize, and then create, a major agricultural innovation of global consequence while writing his own set of Psalms.

Indeed, one of the most striking examples of the breadth of his creativity was as founder of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, the sustainable development experiment he called “a pipe, a pump, and a pond.” On formerly unproductive Hawaiian land he created in 1974 a multifaceted laboratory that used deep cold water, and its temperature differential with the surface, to create electricity. The condensate from the cold water pipes, plus the soil’s temperature differential between the pipes’ chill at the plants’ roots and the soil’s surface, enabled the growth of succulent vegetables and fruits. (The pond was used to raise fish for protein.) Given the number of the world’s people living near oceans, he envisioned the contribution this might make globally.

When John Craven died, the world’s media considered his death, and life, worthy of fulsome note. Obituaries appeared in The Times of London (“racked up many of the undersea world’s technological firsts”), The New York Times (“Dr. Craven described an energy project in terms that echoed his own life. ‘It seemed,’ he said, ‘like perpetual motion.’”), The Economist (“To outside observers his world came straight from Ian Fleming”), The Washington Post (“a top scientist for the Navy during the Cold War, who oversaw many undersea weaponry and research programs, including efforts to retrieve a missing hydrogen bomb and to spy on the Soviet Union”), and elsewhere.

Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×

There are far too many exciting stories from his life to repeat them all here. More are available in the newspaper stories and other material posted online under “John Piña Craven, American Treasure” (at http://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2015/02/john-pina-craven-american-treasure.html).

On April 12, 2015, the United States Navy held the “Dr. John P. Craven Committal to Sea” from the deck of the USS Hawaii (SSN 776) at the Submarine Piers, Joint Base Pearl HarborHickam, in Honolulu. On that day his ashes were returned, with a 21-gun salute, to the ocean that he loved.

John Craven is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorothy, daughter Sarah (a women’s rights advocate; director, Washington Office, United Nations Population Fund), son David (a Chicago lawyer), and five grandchildren.

Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×
Page 84
Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×
Page 85
Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×
Page 86
Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×
Page 87
Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×
Page 88
Suggested Citation:"JOHN P. CRAVEN." National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Memorial Tributes: Volume 21. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24773.
×
Page 89
Next: CHARLES CRUSSARD »
Memorial Tributes: Volume 21 Get This Book
×
Buy Hardback | $107.00 Buy Ebook | $84.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

This is the 21st Volume in the series Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and foreign associates. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased. Through its members and foreign associates, the Academy carries out the responsibilities for which it was established in 1964.

Under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering was formed as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. Members are elected on the basis of significant contributions to engineering theory and practice and to the literature of engineering or on the basis of demonstrated unusual accomplishments in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology. The National Academies share a responsibility to advise the federal government on matters of science and technology. The expertise and credibility that the National Academy of Engineering brings to that task stem directly from the abilities, interests, and achievements of our members and foreign associates, our colleagues and friends, whose special gifts we remember in this book.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!