Kauai’s Perry, The Ancient Mariner

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - July 23, 2008
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John Craven was a key figure in the undersea Cold War
John Craven was a key figure in the undersea Cold War

County police chiefs usually go very low profile on things political. Not Kauai’s Darryl Perry. He’s loudly protesting state and county permits for a Mainland man to build a beach house over an old burial site at Haena.

Perry says: “I hope that somewhere down the line a leader of great vision will take up this cause and correct the unconscionable decisions by some of our appointed public officials who authorized/permitted the building of this home, and future homes under similar circumstances.”

Wow! Those are in-your-face words, chief!

He’s a hero to locals who object to the house.


three star

Whatever happened to John Craven, oceanographer, lawyer, architect of the Polaris missile program, state marine affairs coordinator and Hawaii candidate for Congress?

He is 83, living here, working on a new book and unforgiving of those who terminated him as Law of the Sea Institute director and professor emeritus of ocean engineering at the University of Hawaii.

Did the Navy’s onetime under-sea-spy-wonder simply go offkilter? One national writer referred to him as a “mad genius.” Craven calls himself the Ancient Mariner. That’s from Coleridge’s tale of a seafarer cursed for shooting an albatross, but in the end all the crewmen on the Mariner’s ship die while he survives.

Craven’s fall from academic grace coincides with a 1994 federal lawsuit by UH professor Maivan Lam against then-UH-president Kenneth Mortimer and then-law-school-dean Larry Foster. Craven stepped into the middle of it on Lam’s behalf.

The UH was starting a new law school program, and anthropologist and Sea Law Institute lawyer Lam applied to be director. She had high academic qualifications but was known for her leftist political views. She also had a professional run-in with law school search committee chairman Jon Van Dyke and demanded that he recuse himself. Van Dyke refused so she sued.

The case went to three trials and appeals. UH law professor Amy Kastely testified she heard law professor David Callies say “we will not hire a black woman for this job” (assistant dean) and law professor Randy Roth say too many women at the school would jeopordize accreditation.

In the end, the trial court said yes, there was an atmosphere of gender/race discrimination at the law school but no justification for damages (about $25,000 in attorney fees and court costs) because the position hadn’t been filled yet when Lam sued. It eventually went to a white woman.

The court finding embarrassed the UH law school. It was publicized on the Internet and in law reviews.

Craven is cited in the key appellate court decision: “Craven testified to a consistent pattern of (Jon) Van Dyke’s behavior, with one manifestation of his alleged discriminatory attitude having occurred only a few months before the directorship search.”

The UH under president Kenneth Mortimer terminated Craven. No public reason was given. Craven claims his later appeals to presidents Evan Dobelle and David McClain were not answered. But the current UH spokeswoman says they’ve never received anything from Craven, asking for a review of his case. Craven replies by e-mail: “Bull…! The president (McClain) has received many letters.” And he adds this: “They locked my office and confiscated its contents. They are in the possession of the university today. I was effectively banished with a carefully organized elimination of all my academic and advisory appointments.”

Craven wrote the submarine book Silent War and contributed to the best-selling Blind Man’s Bluff, which detailed some of America’s most successful under-sea spying missions against the Soviet Union.

Craven has enormous scientific credibility, but he’s extremely outspoken. He drinks refined deep-sea water in an experiment to change his metabolism and slow down the aging process. He calls himself “a marine mammal.”

Craven’s no fan of the Bush years in the White House and says on his website: “There will be no light at the end of the tunnel until after the elections of 2008. Therefore, the Ancient Mariner is spending his time on a book to appear in the market in December of 2008.”

Heads up at the UH. A man who’s revealed how he faked the Glomar Explorer as a manganese nodule ship when it was actually hunting a Soviet sub is unlikely to overlook those he feels unfairly hung an albatross around the neck of the Ancient Mariner.


three star

My typo on the Pamplona bull run. I meant bota, a goatskin wine bag with the goat hair on the inside, not boda, the word for wedding. And yes, they did shave the bulls’horns in 1959 and never used the premium Miura bulls for the morning run that were used for the afternoon fights.

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