Navy partners with Polynesian Voyaging Society

MC1 Meranda Keller

Navy Public Affairs Support
Element Detachment Hawaii

Service members along with thousands of guests participated in the historic welcoming ceremony of the double-hulled canoe Hokule‘a at Oahu’s Magic Island, June 17.

Hokule‘a and sister ships staffed with the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) crewmembers concluded a three-year sail around the globe.

Departing Hawaiian waters on May 30, 2014, the crewmembers relied only on their understanding of nature’s cues: ocean swells, stars, winds, and birds to navigate across roughly 47,000 nautical miles. During the voyage they managed to visit 85 ports and 26 nations, spreading a message of “Malama Honua,” which means “Caring for the Earth.”

“Prior to the voyage, the Navy provided the team with a search and rescue training, offered advice about routes and dangers that might be faced, and provided volunteers, like myself, with some basic sanding and maintenance of the canoe,” said Miki Tomita, director of the Polynesian Voyaging Society Learning Center. “We want to honor the crewmembers of Hokule‘a and congratulate them on their accomplishment.”

Photo illustration. Photos by MC3 Justin Pacheco and MC2 Gabrielle Joyner

In 2011, U.S. Navy Sailors homeported in Pearl Harbor supported Hokule‘a’s mission by sanding pieces of the canoe to help restore it, learning about ancient Hawaiian culture in the process.

In 2013, prior to Hokule‘a departing, crewmembers met with the commander of Navy Region Hawaii and other key leaders, who discussed risk mitigation and provided guidance on adjusting waypoints during their voyage to remain out of dangerous waters.

“This is a big effort,” Tomita said. “Our group welcomed the Navy and the Coast Guard’s help in making the homecoming a success.”

The Hokule‘a arrives at Magic Island. Photo by MC1 Meranda Keller

Tomita said the military is an important part of the island’s ohana. She said the military provides security and stability at sea on a global scale.

During the homecoming ceremony, more than 40 service members from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam helped people board the free shuttles transporting to and from Magic Island.

“This was a very fulfilling experience for my family and I, we felt blessed to be a part of Hawaiian history in the making,” said Joe Rayray, attached to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific. “We helped people board the shuttle and were greeted with many smiles and ‘thank yous’.”

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, attended the Hokule‘a homecoming ceremony, June 17.

The volunteers were able to watch up close as Hokule‘a arrived back at home.

“This was an awesome experience helping out the community,” said Logistics Specialist First Class Garrett Degler, assigned to Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “I’m proud to be a part of something so remarkable.”

The conclusion of this voyage will not end the relationship between the Navy and the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

“The ocean connects all of us, across time, across borders, and across the globe, as Hokule‘a has shown for the past three years,” Tomita said. “Partnership, education and a culture of learning are critical whether on a voyaging canoe or a Navy destroyer.”

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Category: Life & Leisure