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In the Days of Analytical Anarchy: XNASN

By Bruce Rule - Jul 28, 2013

As previously submitted for inclusion in “Our Book.”

In April 1959, several LANT stations reported a common contact for which the bearings converged in the mid-Atlantic. As the contact continued on a westerly course, additional stations reported detection until almost the entire system became involved.

The contact consisted of three, 3-bladed propellers at about 240 rpm with associated turbines. It was classified Unknown Non-American Submarine, Nuclear: XNASN. The estimated speed was 23 knots.

The contact passed north of Bermuda and was lost as it entered shallow water just east of New York City. About three days later, contact was regained as what was obviously a passenger liner began its return transit to Europe.

Although it was suggested the event involved the French liner LIBERTE, this was never confirmed nor – to the writer's knowledge – was this unique signature ever detected again.

This event was an example of just how dark the Acoustic Dark Ages were. Contacts were classified threat not because they met specific criteria but because they did not display known characteristics.

It was at that time – one month after I reported to Eleuthera – that Chief Don (?) Miller, my watch supervisor, decided I might be rescuable and he began to educate me. I still remember “discovering” why the M-boat looked the way it did. Don Miller had made Chief in six years, six months and could have taken – and most assuredly passed – the E8-E9 test with a high enough score to become an E9 had he had a little more time in grade. I owe my entire professional career to Don Miller. Thank you, Don.

Bruce Rule