Titanic Mission Mirrors Cryptozoo Spying

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 26th, 2008


I’ve written before about the mixing of Yeti expeditions and spy missions by Nazis, Tom Slick, Edmund Hillary, and as hidden in other links. If by land, such covert cover missions also happen in the water, as well.


The Times of London revealed over the weekend that Bob Ballard has come forth to tell that he was really on a secret mission to find two American nuclear submarines when he told the media he was searching for the Titanic.

“Dr. Ballard, an oceanographer, has admitted that he located and inspected the wrecks for the US Navy in top secret missions before he was allowed to search for the Titanic. Only once he had used his new underwater robot craft to map the submarine wreck sites was he able to use it to crisscross the North Atlantic seabed to pinpoint the last resting place of the luxury liner. It meant he had only 12 days to find the Titanic,” reported The Times.

I couldn’t tell anybody. There was a lot of pressure on me. It was a secret mission. I felt it was a fair exchange for getting a chance to look for the Titanic. We handed the data to the experts. They never told us what they concluded – our job was to collect the data. I can only talk about it now because it has been declassified. Bob Ballard

This instantly reminded me of what occurred in Lake Pend Oreille as mentioned in an article researched over a dozen years ago by science writer Patrick Huyghe.

As North Idaho College Prof. James R. McLeod told Huyghe (“Deep Secrets,” The Anomalist 5, 1997), the Navy used reports of a Lake Monster, locally called Paddler, in Lake Pend Oreille for decades, as a cover story.

In 1984, McLeod and his college-based cryptozoological research group conducted a much-publicized investigation, “Crypto Quest 84,” concluding that a majority of the sightings could have been of a huge, prehistoric-looking sturgeon — not native to the lake but possibly an occasional visitor. (McLeod kindly donated the expedition’s flag to the International Cryptozoology Museum, several years ago.)

McLeod would learn, “Every once in a while we would get someone who also saw a submarine, and the word nuclear kept coming up. That started bothering me.”

It bothered McLeod because no nuclear subs are ever supposed to be in an American lake.

Idaho anthropologist Duke Snyder said, “I’m inclined to think that a lot of events that occurred on the lake are really the result of Navy activity of one kind or another…. If somebody begins a story about a monster in the lake, then that’s a pretty handy explanation for strange things that go on. Of course, that raises the question [of] what the heck is the Navy doing in the lake.”

For years, the Navy denied it has ever used manned submarines or minisubs in the lake, but in the 1960s two Navy contractors, Vickers and the International Submarine Engineering (ISE) groups of Canada, did use a minisub, Pisces I, to train personnel in torpedo-recovery in some American lakes. The very deep Lake Pend Oreille appears to have been one of them. McLeod was able to confirm that the Pisces I was at Pend Oreille in 1965.

Finally, the truth came out. In Spring 2001, the US Navy, in an article authored by one of their own personnel in Vol. 3, No. 3 of Undersea Warfare (“The Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force”), made it clear that submarine models were being used in the lake. See the Navy’s article, now online at: “Small Subs Provide Big Payoffs For Submarine Stealth.”

For more information on the reports of the cryptid Paddler, see the book I coauthored with Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (NY: Tarcher/Penguin, 2003).

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

3 Responses to “Titanic Mission Mirrors Cryptozoo Spying”

  1. cryptidsrus responds:

    Good article, Loren.

    Ballard in a way should admired for the fact that he found Titanic with only 12 days left. Darn.

  2. Mnynames responds:

    12 days of active searching, but you know he did his homework first. I imagine he had a pretty good idea of where to look beforehand…

  3. eireman responds:

    “the Navy used reports of a Lake Monster, locally called Paddler, in Lake Pend Oreille for decades, as a cover story.”

    And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids…

    Am I right? It’s totally something out of Scooby Doo. Jinkies! Who would have thought that stuff like this really happens.

    BTW, exactly how would the US Navy have control over Ballard’s research? Were they funding it? Did they say, “oh, we’ll help you build your little remote sub if you use it to locate ours”? Otherwise, I can’t see exactly what control they had over a privately funded expedition in the middle of international waters. There’s probably more to this story I know nothing about. Next Stop: Wikipedia, the fountain of all accurate knowledge. 😀

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