Editor's Page: Excellence and Mysteries

This month, we celebrate a national award, and take readers to places they can’t go.


Photo by: Linny Morris

Movies have the Oscars, TV shows have the Emmys, city magazines have … well, there is no catchy name for the honor, but I’m pleased to report that HONOLULU Magazine recently won a General Excellence Award from the City & Regional Magazine Association. Judges looked at every aspect of the publication, from covers to stories and writing, to photography and design, before declaring HONOLULU the best city magazine of its size in the nation.

The national recognition feels great, especially since the judges hailed from publications we respect and admire, such as Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The American Prospect, Food & Wine, and more. What feels even better is being part of the crew that puts this magazine together. Writers, designers, sales people, marketing and circulation directors—everyone does something to put pages into this magazine and get it into your hands, and I’m grateful to them all.

Speaking of general excellence, I want to thank the command team and the crew of the USS Hawaii for spending hours with us one Saturday afternoon as we researched the article, “10 Places You Can’t Go."

It’s always easier to say “No”—and several of the places that we wrote about did, indeed, refuse to let us in, despite not being classified, $2-billion, state-of-the-art weapons systems. However, Cmdr. Stephen Mack, his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Pat Clark, and chief of the boat, ETCM (SS) John Perryman, gave us a thorough tour, along with Cmdr. Christy Hagen, public-affairs officer with Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. They even helped photographer Olivier Koning by detailing sailors, who no doubt had better things to do, to take their stations in the control room for photographs.

The third, and newest, of the Virginia-class submarines, Hawaii arrived at its home port of Pearl Harbor last summer. Years ago, I worked at the USS Bowfin, the World War II submarine on exhibit at Pearl Harbor, and I’ve been lucky enough to tour a couple  of Los Angeles-class attack submarines over the years. The three-year-old Hawaii looks so much more electronic in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a crowded, confined space filled with valves, pipes and machinery, much of it low-hanging (“We all have the scars on our heads to prove that!” joked Mack.) But gauges have given way to digital readouts, banks of steel levers and wheels replaced by touch-sensitive, flat-panel displays. Even the periscope has gone digital—yes, a tall stalk still sticks up out of the water to look around, but it isn’t connected to a lens through which the captain peers anymore. Instead, the periscope’s view is seen on high-definition monitors in the control room.

One thing that hasn’t changed is how difficult it is to be a submariner. It can take a year of intense training before a sailor is qualified to wear the dolphin insignia of the submarine service. On top of that qualification, officers have to pass courses in nuclear power that rival MIT’s. Then come the deployments, which bring isolation from home and family, and the risks of the job. “The Navy still considers this a hardship duty,” says Mack.

The Hawaii leaves soon for a six-month deployment in the Western Pacific. For enduring those hardships, and being generally excellent, we send the Hawaii and its crew our thanks, and wish them fair winds and following seas.


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Honolulu Magazine May 2020
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