At 6:00am (Correction: departure is closer to 9:00am) on Friday, July 31, 2015 the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will leave on it's voyage to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to begin an exploration into areas previously unexplored. In addition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Okeanos will explore the area around the Johnston Atoll and the recently expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as well as several seamounts in the vicinity of the Main Hawaiian Islands. These large swaths of ocean, all a part of the Pacific Marine National Monuments and NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries cover an area of approximately 742,000 square miles of relatively pristine marine ecosystems. This exploration and mapping by Okeanos will help to establish a baseline for scientists, conservationist, policy makers and the public to best manage the region. Along with the protection of this natural resource are the potential for deep sea mining and the extended U.S. Continental Shelf. The information gathered on this expedition will help decision makers tackle these issues. On the voyage, Okeanos will provide livestreams from cameras situated on the Deep Discoverer and Seirios ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) and from Mission Control. The ship is touted as being the most Internet connected research vessel with a 20Mbps upstream satellite connection to enable HD broadcasts. Through the livestreams, the public will see exactly what the scientists onboard see in mission control. In addition to being well connected the program believes in data transparency and "strives to make as much of the data collected onboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer available to the scientists and the public as soon as possible." Data from the mission gets posted 1-6 months after the mission. Our interview on Hawaii Public Radio with onboard scientists Dr. Chris Kelley and Dr. Daniel Wagner go into the specifics of the mission. You can also enjoy a virtual tour of the ship though this photo album as I visit the bridge, mission control, the ROVs, engine room and lab. Thanks to Kelley Elliot, Expedition Coordinator, Emily Rose, Operations Officer and Toni Parras, Communications Manager for a very informative tour. We are living in an exciting time for science, exploring the far reaches of our solar system and the mighty depths of our ocean.
This event at the Univ. of Hawaii, School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology only occurs once every two years. This year it took place on Oct. 25 and 26 and feature demonstrations of explosive volcanism, Doppler on Wheels, James Cameron's DeepSea Challenge, meteorites from Mars, the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory and many more.
This story ran in the Star Advertiser on Friday and given my fascination with ships and planes I had to see if the Kaiyu Maru was still docked at Aloha Tower. On my morning run I detoured to Aloha Tower Marketplace and sure enough it was still there. My plan was to try and get a tour of the ship but that did not pan out. Trying to board a foreign ship at the last minute, literally hours before they leave is futile. But I did get to meet the Roosevelt High School students, Krista Ann Lee and Ronald Li along with their teacher Jennifer Williams as they made their last minute foray into town to buy a case of diet Coke. The threesome are on their way to Fukuoka, a 17 day trip on the training vessel Kaiyu Maru. They, along with 60 other Japan students will journey the western Pacific on the 223 foot vessel. Judging from their blog post, the first day at sea was a struggle with seasickness. It will be interesting to follow along with their adventure on the high sea. Stay tuned as I have asked Jennifer and her students to join us on Bytemarks Cafe on Dec 15th to share with us their once in a lifetime experience.
On October 22, 2010, the 20th anniversary of stopping the bombing of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, presents the opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished over the last 20 years and what is planned for Kaho‘olawe's future. The Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (‘Ohana) together with the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) worked to restore the island's cultural and natural resources. More than 6,000 cultural practitioners, families, students, teachers and community groups were taken to Kaho‘olawe to experience the island and learn how be good stewards of the ‘āina. ‘Ohana members, volunteers and KIRC staff rededicated cultural sites, built new ones, and revived traditional cultural ceremonies. All this as a new generation steps forward to take responsibility to be kahu ‘āina and ‘ohana for Kaho‘olawe. Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe is in transition at this time. Under Hawai‘i law, the state of Hawai‘i holds the island in trust for eventual transfer to the sovereign Hawaiian entity when it is reestablished and recognized by the federal and state governments. Passage of the Akaka Bill begins the process that realizes the transfer of Kaho`olawe. The ‘Ohana will kick off the Year of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, from October 22, 2010 to October 22, 2011, with a celebration on Friday October 22nd at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa Center for Hawaiian Studies Halau O Haumea from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm. The event is free and the public is invited. The program will honor ‘Ohana members Geoge Helm and Kimo Mitchell, who gave their lives for the island, and all the members of the ‘Ohana who perservered for 14 long years after their disappearance to finally stop the bombing of the Kaho‘olawe. Organizers of the event plan to unveil a cultural plan that reestablishes Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe to its original sacred status as an center for learning indigenous Hawaiian knowledge - of the universe, the earth and all living things.
Rather quietly, the Kaiwo Maru slipped into Honolulu Harbor just returning from a 150 year Anniversary celebration in San Francisco. The Kaiwo Maru is a modern day replica of the Kanrin Maru sailing vessel that made the first historic all-Japanese trans-Pacific voyage from Toyko to San Francisco back in 1860. It was at a time when Japan was opening up to foreign trade and influence. Interestingly, there is a NHK Taiga drama series currently running on KIKU-TV about this period called Ryomaden. In the series, Ryoma Sakamoto and Katsu Kaishu play pivotal roles in the creation of the Japanese Navy. Katsu Kaishu was in fact the Captain of the Kanrin Maru back in 1860 that brought the Japanese delegation to San Francisco. The 150 year celebration marks a long relationship between Japan and the U.S. although tumultuous at times (WWII and Pearl Harbor) has resulted in economic partnerships and a strong Japanese-American community. It is interesting to note that Hawaii played a role in the original 1860 voyage of the Kanrin Maru as Honolulu was the stopover point going to and returning from San Francisco. I can only imagine what the meeting was like between Katsu Kaishu and King Kamehameha IV. Visiting the Kaiwo Maru was quite a treat. Having been to several U.S. Navy vessels, it was a pleasure to experience (albeit short) a training vessel which is part of the Japan's National Institute for Sea Training. Although traditional in appearance, the Kaiwo Maru is quite technologically equipped. The ship runs on diesel engines while close to port but utilizes it's 4-masted sails when on the open ocean. Typical speed on the open ocean is 11 knots. The ship was fully equipped with radar, sonar, navigation, onboard electric power and satellite communications. On this voyage the crew consisted of 92 cadets in training (84 men and 8 women) and ship crew of 64, totaling 156. The 92 cadets are part of a multi-year training program that prepares them for a career serving commercial ships, like freighters, tankers and barges in the Japanese Merchant Marines. The above photo shows the route the Kaiwo Maru is on, from Tokyo to San Francisco and then to Honolulu. The ship leave dock tomorrow, May 23rd on its way back to Tokyo. Capt. Makoto Inui told me that training on the Kaiwo Maru helped to instill the heart and soul of Japanese maritime into the students. The Kaiwo Maru along with the Nippon Maru represent the traditional sailing vessels of the 1860's. Students rotate through the other more modern ships in the NIST fleet including the Taisei Maru, Ginga Maru and Seium Maru. Some of the uniquely Japanese things I noticed on the ship was this huge rice cooker. Right next to this cooker was another one similar in size for miso soup, which probably accompanies every meal. The fry cooker was also more hibachi style than the flat grilling surfaces I've seen in the Navy ships. I was also a little surprised to see this vending machine. I asked the First Officer who refills this when it runs out and he told me it was him. Another thing you won't see on any US vessel are these huge fudo or tubs for bathing. They are reminiscent of the public bath houses in Japan where the fudo is not a solitary place but one of community. The showers were the sit down type and if you notice the mirrors are about 3 feet off the ground. You can see more photos in my Flickr set for the Kaiwo Maru. One scene which I will unfortunately miss is on departure. All the crew members will climb the mast, the tallest being 175 feet. They stand on the ropes, suspended from the mast frames and in unison bid farewell to everyone at the port. First Office Iwasaki told me that it is not for those with a fear of heights. From what I saw on the cadet video, commemorating their voyage, they do this feat quite fearlessly, and barefoot to. I wish the crew of the Kaiwo Maru all the best on a safe trip back to Tokyo.
Benny Ron is a one man tour de force. He is the Aquaculture Coordinator at the University of Hawaii and runs Aquaculture Hub. I caught him at Geek Meet III this past weekend at Ala Moana, Magic Island. Accompanying Benny in this photo is Shai Shafir and Yoko. It was fun watching them touting their laptops with their aquaculture presentation in hand. Only something a true geek would do. While he was showing me his preso, I asked him what he thought of the report released last week by Food & Water Watch which was hyper critical of the fledgling aquaculture industry in Hawaii. He felt it was steeped in misinformation and pointed me to a video conversation he had with Jay Fidell of Think Tech. Obviously passionate about this topic he and Jay get into a detailed discussion about the opportunity open ocean aquaculture has for creating food security for Hawaii. It's a very interesting listen. Benny Ron on Finding a Way for Aquaculture in Hawaii from Jay Fidell. During Bytemarks Cafe last week (Apr. 14, 2010) we covered the story about FWW's report and asked Bill Spencer, CEO of Hawaii Oceanic Technologies Inc. to weigh in on the report. He wrote:
A highly funded, Washington, DC lobby organization, Food and Water Watch (FWW), is mounting a frontal attack on Hawaii State policy that supports open ocean mariculture. They have rallied a motley crew of rag tag environmental groups, paid many of them to attack a growing sector of our economy that is on the verge of showing the world a way to produce seafood that is environmentally responsible. This group of activists are disseminating miss-leading information that paints a picture of Hawaii’s small ocean farming businesses as harbingers of huge factory fish farms that pollute our ocean with horrible chemicals, antibiotics and fish poop. Food and Water Watch purports a host of problems with mariculture even though the industry is in its infancy in Hawaii, and none of their claims can be proven, only imagined by creative writers and spin doctors. The opportunity for a company to grow fish in Hawaiian territorial waters has been a matter of law for ten years. It has been seen as a potential economic engine that could put fishermen back to work, create thousands of jobs and even new businesses in support of the effort.Federal policy is also being crafted that will affect the aquaculture industry and NOAA is touring the country soliciting public feedback on the issue. They were here this week and Ben Markus from Hawaii Public Radio did this piece. Jay Fidell also wrote this article that ran in Sunday's Honolulu Advertiser. Hawaii could potentially offer a lot to Hawaii's food security and the diet of fish eating public with a viable aquaculture industry. The reality is, the oceans are being fished out and novel ways need to be established to sustain this food source. Why not aquaculture and why not here in Hawaii. The steps we take at this formative stage of the industry could mean the difference between success and failure.
A friend of mine in college was studying to be a nuclear engineer and after graduating headed off to the Navy to do his tour of duty on a submarine. At the time I could not comprehend what 6 months on the sub really meant. I probably still don't fully understand although having the opportunity to tour the USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), I have a much better appreciation. Leading up to the tour, the identity of the submarine was not revealed to us until we got to the docks where a torpedo weapons retriever would shuttle us to the waiting sub out in Pearl Harbor. We boarded in the protected waters of the harbor over a gang plank and down a hatch. I couldn't help but notice how the surface of the sub looked like a soft cushioned surface. I was later told this was anechoic material to minimize acoustics reflection. Once in the vessel, the outside world is shut off except for what is received through instrumentation. To provide a sense of what the inside of the USS Santa Fe looks like this cutaway of a typical Los Angeles class attack submarine is a good orientation. Our first stop was the Wardroom where COB (Chief of the Boat) John Davis, LCDR Mike Beckette and Ship Doc Rob Lazarin provide the overview of ship operations. Right above the wardroom is the Control Room and Attack Center. This is the hub of activity on the submarine. Steering and navigation is located here, along with the periscopes and sonar room. It is here where Commander Dave Adams ran through maneuvering capabilities of the sub and an attack exercise. During the maneuvering exercise he took the vessel into an incline which felt like a 30 degree angle. You can see here where Nathan Kam and Melissa Chang are both standing at a forward slant. CDR Adams then took it into a decline of 30 degrees and you could feel the opposite affect of leaning backward. Quite radical when you think about it. It is like being in a bus but moving in 3 dimensions. We then did an attack simulation on a surface target. Although the sub is equipped with torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles this exercise used a water slug, basically a torpedo tube filled with water. The crew provided precise readings from sonar and the sub surfaced to periscope depth. The periscope was used to visually acquire the target and made multiple short viewings to confirm. Once the target was secured the CDR gave the "fire torpedoes" command and the water slug was launched. You could hear the expulsion of water and the change in air pressure within the control room. One cannot visit a submarine without a tour of the torpedo room. This is on the deck below the wardroom. In this photo you can get a relative size of the torpedo (in green) along side Melissa talking with LCDR Dave Benham. The torpedoes are position such that they can slide into the facing tubes. The USS Santa Fe was equipped with about 30 torpedoes mounted on a sliding mechanism that allows loading into the tubes. This is not a trivial feat in such close quarters. We did not see the vertical launch tubes for the Tomahawk cruise missiles which I assume were pre-loaded. It's one thing to load horizontal torpedoes. With the limited space on the sub, vertical missiles need to be stored within the launch tube. Another area I found quite interesting was the air handlers in the submarine. Being underwater for extended periods of time requires special monitoring of carbon dioxide and replenishing of oxygen. These CO2 scrubbers remove the carbon dioxide from the air in the sub. Right next to it is the electrolytic oxygen generator. It takes seawater, purifies the water by removing all the salts and minerals, then adds potassium hydroxide as an electrolyte. The water mixture is then electrolyzed separating the hydrogen from the oxygen. This oxygen is then added into the air mix replacing the carbon dioxide and replenishing the depleted oxygen. The air is constantly being monitored to maintain the right mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Stay tuned for more as I have a video I plan to post of our visit to the sail area when the USS Santa Fe surfaces. You can also check out the set of USS Santa Fe photos on Flickr.
This week of Thanksgiving is special for a number of reasons. Family and friends are always always top of mind but it is a time to take stock of the goodness that has come your way in 2009. It is also the start of the Makahiki season and a time to rejoice in rejuvenation of the land as the weather cools and the life giving rains green the islands. One of the things I felt very thankful for this week is having the opportunity to accompany the crew of the voyaging canoe Hokule`a on one of its training runs. It was a short run from Sand Island where the Hokule`a is docked out into the Pacific Ocean several miles south of Honolulu. Although the voyage was short, it gave me a sense of the strength and fortitude it took for the early Hawaiian voyagers to venture across the vast ocean. Once out on the ocean you immediately feel how small the canoe is. There is no sheltered cabin to speak of and sleeping quarters are just a small area in the hull protected by a flap of canvas. If you are not sleeping you are out on the deck in the raw elements of the ocean, winds, sun, rain and whatever nature throws your way. Extended trips on a traditional canoe like the Hokule`a are only for the most hardy. As the sun set, we were blessed with a clear sky filled with stars. The crew gave a lesson in star navigation as the northeasterly trade winds kept the Hokule`a in constant motion. Hokupa`a, the North Star was precisely 21 degrees above the horizon. You can always tell what latitude you are in by charting Hokupa`a, as long as you are in the northern hemisphere. While out on the ocean you are treated to sights not common on land. We were visited by this Hawaiian Booby or `A as it stayed with us for several minutes flying back and forth wanting to land on our sails. The amazing thing is the `A normally lives in remote areas in sea cliffs. Since we were still south of Honolulu with the lights of Waikiki in constant view this Hawaiian Booby must have come a far way, perhaps living somewhere near Diamond Head or further east near Koko Head. With the moon in the background it was an amazing sight. The Hokule`a and it's crew are preparing for the World Wide Voyage starting in 2011. This practice run was one of many to train new crew members. In 2010 the Hokule`a goes into dry dock for major renovation and refitting for the upcoming long voyage. As I look back on 2009, this experience will be one I will always remember. Mahalo to Mei-Jeanne Watson and Nainoa Thompson for making this possible.
On the second leg of her trans-Pacific solo row which started in May 24, 2009, Roz Savage has landed on Tarawa in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. The 105 day voyage was initially thought to take about 70 days and land in Tuvalu. In late Aug, already low on water and food, slightly off course and dealing with uncooperative winds, Savage decided to change her target of Tuvalu and reset her sights on Tarawa. In her blog she writes:
"It seems to be my karma in this lifetime to be faced from time to time with tough decisions – and this one is up there in my Top Ten Tough Decisions Of All Time. I spent most of last night agonizing over it. The night seemed hotter than usual in my cabin, and I was – literally and metaphorically – sweating over my options."The decision was a sound one. And although Tuvalu has received international attention about rising sea levels and loss of land, that fact is true in any of the Pacific Islands in that region, Tarawa being no different. This Pacific atolls are so fragile and the people living there are keenly aware of balance we need to maintain to keep it healthy and life sustaining. Roz will have a couple of weeks on Tarawa before regrouping and planning the final leg of her voyage to Australia. There must be a lot going through her mind now, relieved that this segment of the journey is complete, meeting the people of Tarawa, finding storage for her boat and equipment before her next voyage, attending the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in Dec. and finishing her book. This woman is a model for us all. Stay tuned as this journey isn't over.