Two dozen students in a Marine Science Academy at Channel Islands High School got a break from the stress of end-of-the-year tests and studying when they toured Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in June.
Their visit included stops at Hawkeye Country at Point Mugu and the ocean engineering lab and dive locker at Port Hueneme.
The 10th graders started their daylong tour with Lt. j.g. Frank Bonner of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113.
“I would have loved to have seen a Navy base when I was your age,” he told the teenagers.
He also described life aboard a carrier, shocking one student with the fact that more than 3,000 people live and work on board at any one time.
“It’s a floating city,” he said, adding that it never travels alone. “It’s like Jay-Z. It has an entourage that goes everywhere.”
Several of the students got to try on a survival suit, stepping into more than 40 pounds of gear as Bonner helped them with the helmet.
The tour is the brainchild of academy instructor David Haynes and Naval Facilities engineer Dale Synnes. Friends outside the base, they thought up the tour idea a few years ago and are now trying to make it an annual event.
The academy is a three-year program that starts in the sophomore year. Students visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and, in their junior year, Catalina Island for three days. They also go on college tours.
On this day, after lunch in the galley, the students traveled by bus to Port Hueneme, where they visited the ocean engineering lab at the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center.
David Jones, who works in marine safety in the Ocean Facilities Department, was their tour guide, taking them first to visit with Wayne Tausig, head of the department.
Tausig showed them the area where ocean conditions are simulated, where pressure, temperature and salinity can be controlled and manipulated to create a situation identical to where the Navy needs to go.
He and the students talked about what materials would be ideal in the ocean environment and what happens to those materials as they descend.
Then the students went a step further, visiting with John Kunsemiller and his remote operated vehicles (ROVs).They discussed the various industries that use ROVs — petroleum and tourism included — and they talked about the kind of work ROVs can do, from turning a valve and capping an oil well to mapping the ocean floor and installing cables.
Then came the moment the students had been waiting for all year: They tested the ROV they’d built in class. Nicknamed “The Turtle,” the small vehicle was carefully placed in the water, then manipulated with a joystick. It did everything it was supposed to do — and it didn’t fall apart. The students were overjoyed.