Noted ocean engineer to speak on early Scripps’ expeditions
Published - 01/16/20 - 07:00 AM | 3516 views | 0 0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Hardy will speak at La Playa Trail Association’s next history lecture on the extraordinary expeditions of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Kevin Hardy will speak at La Playa Trail Association’s next history lecture on the extraordinary expeditions of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
San Diego ocean engineer Kevin Hardy is just a big kid. He’s like Tom Hanks in the 1988 blockbuster “Big,” but with precision depth recorders and deep ocean cameras and robots for toys.

La Playa Trail Association presents Hardy in its next history lecture on Tuesday, Jan. 21, titled, Home Port: Point Loma. Extraordinary Expeditions of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The public is welcome to feast upon Hardy’s tales at sea, and light appetizers, at Point Loma Assembly, 3035 Talbot St. at 5:30 pm, for a suggested donation of $10.

Forty years at Scripps has not quelled Hardy’s enthusiasm for the investigation of the world’s oceans, from surface to seafloor. “When I was 10 years old I knew what I wanted to do — underwater stuff,” Hardy says. “The sea is an alien planet. It’s totally different down there.” (He may also have been influenced by the 1960s TV series “Sea Hunt”, and movies with Navy subs, he admits.)

Today Hardy explores the vertical extent with his Deep Ocean Vehicle (DOV) as founder and engineer of Global Ocean Design. Inspired by the unmanned lunar landers of the 1960s, Global Ocean Design creates untethered robotic platforms to explore the most hostile regions of the Earth’s oceans.

“Our products have successfully made the round trip to the deepest possible ocean depths,” Hardy says. “They have endured an annual cycle below the Arctic ice pack, been deployed and recovered from various surface support craft, have years of cumulative deployment time, and returned data and samples to the surface on acoustic command or by timer.”

For more than 100 years Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been on the leading edge of science and technology. It seems that Hardy has the same tenacity of spirit as the institution’s early pioneer, William Emerson Ritter, who journeyed to California in 1885 in the pursuit of biology.

In 1891, Ritter honeymooned at Hotel del Coronado. While collecting zoological specimens along the seashore, Ritter met La Playa’s medical doctor Fred Baker, a collector of shells. Ultimately, their chance encounter would ignite the spark of the world’s most recognized institution of oceanography.

Over the years, a fleet of Scripps research vessels has been docked at La Playa and employed, from early sailing vessels to modern research giants. The extraordinary explorations of some of these early watercraft are the subjects of Hardy’s history lecture on Jan. 21.

To whet your mental appetite: Hardy says that in the 1950s, people won and lost careers based on their understanding of plate tectonics. Oceans were a few miles deep, and there was heated argument about why earth would be moving — little known then about the Ring of Fire, subduction zones, earthquakes and tsunamis. Scripps launched a ship out of La Playa, took a device, known as a magnetometer, which measures magnetic forces, and discovered the critical and irrefutable evidence to settle the argument.

Incidentally, in 1992, a team lead by Hardy entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest run of a two-man non-propeller submarine, which traveled at a speed of 2.9 knots.

Don’t miss Hardy’s hyper-talk and the entertaining explorations of Scripps Institution, and of his contemporary ocean adventures.

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