by Capt. David Williams
(deafwhale at gmail.com)
In 344 BC, the great Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that the mystery of why whales and dolphins flung themselves upon the shore mystified him. I stumbled into his writing in 1970 and soon convinced myself that I might become famous if I could solve a mystery that stumped Aristotle. It wasn’t long before the idea became a sick obsession that has been with me ever since.
As an ocean-going sea captain for many decades, I often steered my vessel off course to observe pods of whales and dolphins. In 1982, my efforts led me to conclude that 90% of all mass stranded pelagic whales and dolphins had previously been injured (sinus barotrauma) by rapid and excessive changes in diving pressure experienced above the epicenter of undersea earthquakes. The injury in their cranial air spaces caused them to lose their sense of direction.
If I was right, there had to be a record of ships hit by the same shocks and pressure disturbances. It took me a few more years looking through old history books to find that this was indeed true. But the public didn’t believe me when I told them seaquakes could sink ships and cause pods of whales to strand themselves. They didn’t believe me because there were no recent scientific reports or newspaper articles backing up my ideas. I didn’t know it back then, but reports of ships and submarines being hit by undersea earthquakes were being kept out of the media.
My big research break came in the 1990s when companies started digitizing old newspapers and putting them up on the Internet. Starting in the 1700’s and ending in about 1950, newspapers all around the world were reporting ships hit by earthquakes and other undersea upheavals. Free online archives are now filled with violent encounters such as the ones shown on this list (link). You can find another 2000+ eyewitness reports of submarine upheavals at this (link). Here’s a different (link) with over 12,000 reports from sailors telling you all about undersea earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. And there’s a lot more. I even have over 5,000 hand picked reports from other sources that I am slowing posting on the net (Ships Hit By Seaquakes 1700 – 1899) (Ships Hit By Seaquakes 1900s to present). This stuff is mind-blowing to the average landlubber who knows nothing about natural oceanic upheavals.
Is there really a cover-up in place? It certainly is convincing when one compares the huge number of seaquake reports prior to the 1950s with the tiny number of such reports coming out today. There are just as many undersea earthquakes now as there were a hundred years ago and fifty times more ships, but only rarely do we hear about a vessel hit by one of these events. If there were no cover-up, we’d be reading about a nasty seaquake hitting a boat or pod of whales almost every week.
It’s obvious that I have solved the mystery that stumped Aristotle. The only problem has been that those who could back up my solution want you to remain in the dark about undersea earthquakes.
I’m also convinced that the British and Australian navies are in on the cover-up along with the US Navy. All three have been fully aware of the danger since the early 1800s. Since then, several hundred US Navy vessels have encountered these events, including 40 to 50 submarines. The first encounter in the public records with a US Navy ship occurred in 1852 off the coast of Vancouver Island (link). One of the most notable to make the newspapers happened in 1918 when double earthquake shocks shook the entire sixth fleet of Admiral Rodman’s heavy dreadnoughts (link).
This much is proven. The US Navy first started investigating the intensity of seaquake pressure waves in 1939 (link). In 1940, they wanted to set off large explosions just offshore to generate monstrous tsunami waves and destroy enemy coastal cities. They wanted to know all about using explosives to mimic seaquakes. This effort was called Project Seal. The US Navy also released a news article in 1962 asking for scientists to help them create artificial undersea earthquakes to use to sink enemy ships so their adversaries would believe an earthquake sank it. This geophysical warfare effort was called Blue Sky Research (link). This is just the tip of the iceberg — there is so much more convincing information that it becomes too overwhelming to read.
Bet on it! The US Navy knows how seaquakes cause whales to strand. But, as I say above, there’s a cover-up in place for many reasons. One reason is that seaquakes and military sonar cause the exact same type of disabling sinus injuries in diving whales. The resulting sinus barotrauma knocks out their biosonar and causes them to swim blindly onto a beach. This means that if you learn how seaquakes sink ships and submarine and induce sinus barotrauma in whales, you will then know that military sonar, air guns, and explosives do the exact same thing.
You’ll also come to know in due time that whale scientists have been lying about why whales beach themselves for decades. Just don’t lock your brain and start thinking I’m some kind of nut. Keep reading and you’ll become a believer.
It’s not so much that the US Navy is trying to cover-up whale strandings. The main reason the Navy does not want you to know about the dangers of seaquakes is to hide the stupid mistake they made in the 1950s when they designed and built six Skipjack-class nuclear attack submarines. The Navy wanted the fastest, quickest turning, most silent nuclear attack submarine money could buy so they came up with the Skipjack design with its wide stern diving planes. The upper and lower external support struts that were normally used to secure such wide horizontal appendages during fast maneuvers were omitted from the design because they generated bubble noise (cavitation) and reduced the top speed by a few knots.
Removing these external supports was a monstrous mistake. The wide horizontal dive planes on the Skipjacks often flapped up and down slowly like some giant prehistoric bird lifting off the ground. The internal supports could not take the constant stresses. After 4-5 years of service, the supports started to show hairline cracks and signs of metal fatigue in crucial areas that could not be seen by simple inspection. In addition, the Skipjacks also suffered a lot of shaft and propeller vibrations that added vibratory stress to the already fatigued internal supports. Because the hull of submarine changes shape under increased diving pressure, aligning the long shaft and propeller so they don’t vibrate at various depths in a nightmare.
The more stress-weakened the internal support brackets became, the more vulnerable the horizontal diving planes were to sudden shock waves generated by vertical-thrusting undersea earthquakes, especially an extremely shallow reverse-fault event near six magnitude. When new, the wide horizontal planes of the skipjacks could take the blow. But after 4-5 years of bending stresses, the wide diving planes became like sitting ducks, just waiting to be hit hard by seismic shock waves.
The US Navy’s worst nightmare come true in May 1968.
The USS Scorpion, a Skipjack with 109 unfilled repair orders and long overdue for her major overhaul, disappeared while sailing a few miles south of the Azores Islands, near the Azores Triple Junction, one of the most seismically-active areas on Earth. It didn’t take long for the admirals to figure out that Scorpion’s wide stress-weakened diving planes were hit by a series of intense shocks from a vertical thrusting, shallow-focused undersea earthquake. The seismic sea waves snapped the stress-weakened internal supports holding the starboard plane. Once loosened, the plane was then washed back by the rushing water into the propeller, breaking off two blades, and snapping the propeller shaft where it connected to the main drive. The 99 sailors on board were helpless because the emergency blow system that filled the main ballast tanks with air and caused the sub to surface was inoperable (link). The Scorpion rolled over several times and spiraled to the bottom.
The US Navy knew the sub was in danger traversing earthquake-active waters. This meant that sending Scorpion to the seismically-active Mediterranean via the earthquake-prone waters south of the Azores was the same as sending her on a suicide mission. The truth forced the top admirals to either lie to the families of the dead sailors and to the public or be disgraced and court-martialed. Another big reason to lie was because the US Navy had five other seaquake-vulnerable Skipjacks in service that would have to be decommissioned if their vulnerability ever became public knowledge. Under no circumstances could the US Navy accept the embarrassment of having to retire an entire class of nuclear submarines due to design flaws, especially at the height of the Cold War and at a time when the admirals were already under heavy criticism for the 1963 mysterious loss of the nuclear submarine USS Thresher.
Russia, France, and Isreal navies also knew a seaquake sank Scorpion because they had also lost submarines in seismic hotspots only a few months earlier. They all agreed to keep quiet about the danger. Otherwise, they would all have the same problems.
To make matters even worse, the wreckage of the Scorpion was more likely than not leaking radiation near the Azores fishing grounds and probably still is today. The Navy lied about the real location of the wreckage. They also lied when they said the reactor did not crack open when the submarine crashed into the rocky sea bottom. Taking one look at the mangled reactor compartment makes it impossible to believe the Navy, especially since they lied about everything else.
The US Navy, masters at press manipulation, pumped out confusing news reports left and right and stalled around until the admirals finally came up with a job-saving plan. In case the truth ever came out, they would pretend that they did not know that seaquake shock waves could snap off a wide diving plane that was ready to fall off on its own. They didn’t want to sound completely stupid about seaquakes so, as a cover story, they decided to kick off a new research program to supposedly discover how seaquakes could sink nuclear submarines. But they would also continue to publically deny the seaquake connection. If they could keep it out of the press, then there’d be no reason to reveal the special seaquake research project. In other words, if the truth leaked out, they’d say they didn’t know the real danger and had recently initiated a study to learn the truth. It was a weak excuse, but it was all they could think up. If the seaquake connection never leaked, they’d bury the unclassified seaquake research in the basement of the Pentagon and no one would ever know what happened.
But something went wrong as it usually does. Six months ago, the National Technical Information Surface (NTIS) dusted off a copy of the old Scorpion research and posted it on the Internet. Because I keyword search all the time for “submarine earthquake, Google sent me a notice that the document had suddenly become available online. When I realized the document was proof of a cover-up, I emailed the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and offered to keep quiet about the project if the US Navy would in turn stop lying about whale strandings and give the whales a better chance at a longer life. But they ignore me as usually so now I am revealing the truth about what happened to Scorpion and how the Navy lied about it and how they lie about whale beachings.
In December 1968, after examining 10,000 photographs of the wrecked Scorpion lying on the bottomed, the US Navy set in motion a $2.7 million dollar study called OVERPRESSURES DUE TO EARTHQUAKES PROJECT (link). The pictures of the wreckage sitting on the bottom revealed that the wide, unsupported starboard diving plane was missing. The US Navy knew exactly why. The likely saw the seismic data of the event but quickly removed it from all files. The sudden loss meant the five other Skipjacks needed to be decommissioned. But taking an entire class of submarine out of services was just too much for the admirals to swallow.
The first part of the overpressures project was to develop a system for measuring seaquake pressure waves. This first phase report started with the following paragraph:
“The Overpressures Due to Earthquakes project work is directed toward the understanding of the various effects, at the sea surface, at the ocean floor, and between, of nearby undersea earthquakes. The present goal is the study of pressure variations in the water column which result from seismic events. At the beginning of the program, various experimental approaches were considered. One such consideration was the development of inexpensive long time instruments that could be scattered over know seismic areas and left for extended lengths of time (i.e. several years). The idea of attempting to measure the overpressures using such instruments was subsequently abandoned, mainly because of the gross uncertainties involved with trying to make such measurements in the near field of adequate seismic activity. It was decided, instead, to attempt measurements during the aftershock sequence of large earthquakes located beneath the sea. There is almost invariably a sequence of aftershocks following a large earthquake. By definition, the size of the aftershocks are all smaller than the main event (the greatest aftershock is usually about 1.2 in magnitude less than the main event) and continue for from a few days to a number of weeks after the main shock. They are usually located in the general region of the main shock and most probably along the edges of the displacement area of the main shock.” (see Page 50 of this document)
The admirals also came up with a second plan to keep the other five Skipjacks in service. They paid Scripps Institution in San Diego to develop a Seaquake Hazards Chart so the vulnerable Skipjacks could avoid earthquake-prone areas. They’d known for decades where the earthquake danger zones were located so this was just more cover-up in case the admirals were called in front of Congress. The overpressures project was finished in 1972 but thinly distributed until NTIS released a copy in early 2015.
Bottom line, the US Navy does not want you to know that a major seaquake can sink a modern nuclear attack submarine loaded with nuclear weapons. In fact, they want you to believe that seaquakes are harmless to submarines, surface ships, and to pods of diving whales.
And, neither does the oil industry want you to know that an undersea earthquake could crack the legs on an oil rig or snap one of a thousand large oil pipes that carry crude oil from several hundred miles offshore to refineries on land. Just such a pipeline burst only a few days ago and in now spreading oil all over Southern California beaches (link).
One seafloor upheaval in the wrong place could coat a hundred miles of pristine beach with black crude and cost a billion dollars to clean up. A strong quake under a loaded oil tanker or natural gas carrier could be even worst. In fact, seismic shock waves sinking oil tankers is nothing new. Here’s a report (link) about how a seaquake turned an oil tanker into scrap metal.
It happened again on March 6, 1988 when a major earthquake with seven aftershocks occurred in the Gulf of Alaska about 200 nautical miles from the oil depot at Valdez. Four Exxon oil tankers were nearing Valdez when the following events erupted one after the next near their position:
PDE 1988 03 06 223538.14 56.95 -143.03 10 7.8 MwHRV
PDE 1988 03 06 230556.84 56.75 -142.99 10 4.7 MLPMR
PDE 1988 03 06 231105.10 56.91 -143.04 10 4.4 MLPMR
PDE 1988 03 06 231438.46 57.50 -142.80 10 6.3 MLPMR
PDE 1988 03 06 232359.90 57.67 -142.94 10 4.4 MBGS
PDE 1988 03 06 233332.53 57.40 -142.89 10 4.2 MLPMR
PDE 1988 03 06 233747.69 57.74 -142.97 10 4.1 MLPMR
PDE 1988 03 06 233949.59 57.10 -142.90 10 4.5 MLPMR
The 500,000-barrel crude oil tanker Sansinena II, under the command of Captain Brent Christiansen, was streaming from Portland, Oregon, to Valdez, Alaska, to pick up a load of crude. Captain Christian in now the chief port pilot for the Port of Los Angeles. Below is his account of what happened:
“Suddenly, without warning, an extremely severe vibration started to shake the entire ship. My first thought was that we’d lost one or several propeller blades. I immediately pulled the throttle back to about 40 rpm, but there was no change in the intensity of the shaking. I did not know what was happening so I ran out on the bridge wing to look around. I could see the stack shaking so hard I thought it might collapse. I returned to the bridge and a few moments later the shaking subsided.”
“About this time I heard a call over the very high frequency (VHF) emergency Channel 16. It was the Exxon Boston calling the Exxon North Slope and reporting that she had encountered heavy vibration, had lost power, and was experiencing some flooding. The Exxon North Slope also was without power and called a third Exxon ship, the Exxon New Orleans, which turned around and headed back to stand by the Exxon Boston. Meanwhile, our radio operator heard about the earthquake from a station at Ketchikan. We proceed to check the deck and the engine room and found no signs of damage, so I gradually resumed speed. I called the Exxon North Slope, gave our position, and offered to assist if needed. They responded that they were restoring power and did not need any help at this time. The Exxon Boston reported that the flooding was under control and the Exxon New Orleans was now standing by. While this was happening, we felt the first of several aftershocks, leaving no doubt that it was an earthquake we’d felt. We resumed course to Valdez, where eventually all vessels arrived without further incident.” (Craig B. Smith (2006) Extreme Waves, Joseph Henry Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001, ISBN 0-309-13367-X e-pub ISBN (link)
Naturally, the oil industry and the US Navy don’t want you worrying about such things. They don’t even want you to worry about why whales mass strand. And cruise ship industry also wants you in the dark. How many people will take a cruise if they think a seaquake could sink their ship? Even the owners of cargo vessels have ordered their captains to stop reporting seaquake encounters because they could be sued if they sold the boat a few years later without disclosing a prior run-in with a seaquake. Just like a building cracked by an earthquake, the resale/loan value of a ship plummets, especially if there’s a public report about an earthquake encounter.
And just in case you still think I’m off my rocker, read this report (link) released by top NASA physicists at Goddard Space Flight Center. They studied two 7.5 mag. seaquakes and determined the shock front from both events approached 100,000 pounds per square inch (6000 kilobars). A shock wave of that magnitude is enough to sink any nuclear submarine even with strong supports on her diving planes. On the other hand, a 1971 study financed by the US Navy (link) estimated shocks of an average seaquake at about 250 pounds per square inch. There’s a big difference between 100,000 psi and 250 psi. Read both research papers and decide whether you believe the physicist paid by the Navy or the ones working for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Now, you are ready to read:
How Seaquakes Cause Whales To Strand (link).
Sea Captain solves the mystery of the ghost ship Mary Celeste. (link)
Whale Scientists Lying About Whale Strandings (link)
Ships Hit by Seaquakes (1700 – 1899) (link)
Ships Hit by Seaquakes (1900 – 2012) (link)