Commentaries, Reminiscences and Sea Stories
Deb Zankofsky

Hess and the International Incident
Posted on 03/11/2010

After we left Rota, Spain, we proceeded north toward the UK. A few days after leaving port, I received a satellite call from the Naval Oceanographic Office (NOO). I was asked what we were dragging behind the ship. I didn't have any idea. I checked with my Electronics Materials Officer and the Senior Naval Oceanographic Office scientist. They didn't know either, only that it wasn't Oceanographic Unit Three. So, I went to the ship's Master and the Purser. The Purser was dragging swabs in the wake of the ship! You have to understand that, at this point, we had an international incident on our hands, so we had to let the French know what was going on. This was the telephone chain on our side of the pond:

2. NOO
3. Commander, Oceanographic Office
4. Oceanographer of the Navy
5. Secretary of the Navy
6. Secretary of Defense
7. State Department
8. The French State Department
9. Down the French Chain of Command

All this for swabs.

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