Paths of the Pacific
Left: Capt. Joseph E. Hart, USN (Ret.) with his Navy aircraft. Image courtesy of Ed and Maria McNichol. Download larger version (2.4 Mb).
Right: Ed McNichol with the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016. Download high-resolution image (jpg, 1.3 Mb)
March 7, 2016
Leaving Pearl Harbor, I was able to stand on upper decks of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and gaze down the same flight path that Capt. Joseph E. Hart, USN (Ret.), my step-grandfather, would have used on his approach to land his Navy aircraft on Ford Island. He was a proud naval aviator and served through the War of the Pacific in World War II.
I am setting out on a similar path to his, and my course will also take me to Kwajalein, as did his. While our tracks may align, our objectives are a world apart. His generation answered our nations’ call to arms, and the world is a better place for their efforts and sacrifices.
I am fortunate to work on an advanced scientific research vessel and to sail with some of the best and brightest minds our country has to offer. Our journey is one of exploration. We aim not to conquer another nation, nor defeat an enemy. Instead, we strive to better understand our planet and the ocean that keeps us all alive. We hope to inform the scientific process and to provide the first look at seafloors and life forms never before seen.
Still, the change that has come to the world in the years that separate our missions stands out starkly. Some of the greatest naval battles ever fought took place in these waters. Today, we now recognize the pivotal role that water has in our very own existence. We hope that our efforts make the world a better place, as his did.