Every now and then a friend sends me an email along the lines of “Have you heard this great true storty about the American aircraft carrier and the Canadian lighthouse? It’s from a real recording…”
It is true ships do occasionally run into lighthouses, and it was an American ship, the Dole-America, that ran into the Nab Tower in the Solent in 1999, so it’s sort of possible-ish, but there is no recording and the story doesn’t really hold together and Urban Legend sight Snopes has more to say about it.
What differentiates this version is that America’s head of intelligence assures us a) that it’s true and b) there are actual recordings. Here’s part of the Boston Sun report on a talk at at The Johns Hopkins University’s Foreign Affairs Symposium, emphasis mine:
by Mark Silva
Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence and veteran of the eavesdropping business, opens with a joke from his days behind the cloak.
“Now this is… true,” the DNI says. “I was in the signals intelligence business where you listen to the people talk and so on. This is true. It’s an actual recording.
“There’s a party talking to a ship at sea that says, “Ship at sea, please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.”
“Now the response was, “Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.”
“The first party says, “Sorry, sir, but you will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.”
“The answering party says, “This is the captain of a United States naval ship. I say again, divert your course.”
“The first party says, “Pardon me sir, you must divert your course.”
“Now the American ship says, “This is an American aircraft carrier, the second largest ship in the United States fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that is 1-5 degrees north or counter-measures will be taken. Do you understand?”
“The response was, “Dear Captain, the next move is your call. This is a Canadian lighthouse.”
“The point of my story is, always know who you’re talking to,” McConnell said”
Or may there really is a recording of this exchange, being looked after by Elvis in the same place they’re keeping the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.