The Croatian fisherman grumbled as he pulled the lever to haul up the latest catch. His old, standby nets weren’t nearly as good.
“That orange thing” had been nothing but bad luck. Static crackled over his radio. The voice on the other end demanded the object back. “No,” he answered. “Pay me first.”
Darko Bigava was out on the waters every day in his fishing vessel, the Marian II.
It wasn’t unusual to haul up bits of trash along with his wriggling catch. Once he found an antique radio. They made for good stories. Little did he know, a bigger story was about to surface.
His boat slowly moved and chugged along the waves. The day had been great so far and the large pile of fish would bring in a good price.
He flipped a lever and brought up the next batch. He heard the motor squeal and saw the mainline tense. Something was caught on the nets.
Bigava went through the usual motions that he would with any other snag.
However, after things finally came loose and the nets appeared, he cursed – his lines were utterly destroyed. The pile of fish would come close to fixing this damage. He pulled the remaining tangles out and saw what was responsible.
It was a strange metal cube, around a meter square, and a secondary cube attached with a sturdy line.
It was also very heavy. 500 feet below the surface and such a bulky object … no wonder the lines tore. There were two main questions – what was it and who did it belong to?
Bigava published the photos online and asked the owner to compensate him for the damages.
He also noticed a DHL shipping label and was able to track it to a space center in Mississippi. It was American. The final answer came one day over his radio. It was the U.S. Navy… and they wanted their property back.
The fishermen held the mic in his shaking hand and looked with wide eyes across the water.
He glanced at the poor catch for the day, calmed his racing heart, and said, “No, you pay me first. $3000 for new nets.” The voice on the other end didn’t sound happy.
“You are in possession of military equipment, return it immediately.”
Bigava held his ground. No one would bully him. He refused again, stating they had been the ones to cause the damage. They had enough money to compensate him. Then … his cell phone rang. It was the same voice. …But how did they have his number?
The back and forth between the two sides grew intense, but at that point, the fisherman didn’t care anymore.
His stubborn stance also paid off. Soon, he got a message that the Croatian coast guard would pay for new nets, and the Navy would pay the government back. Now, it was a delicate matter of delivering the item.
He headed toward the coordinates and spotted the large, intimidating research vessel – the Bruce Heezen.
He pulled up closer, but before they could reach the cube with their dingy, he shoved it in the water and drove away quickly. He saw them scramble and haul it back into their boat. As for the actual function of the object?
The first theory leaned toward some sort of sonar object.
Some of these devices are called HIPAP systems and are used for geolocation and communication. The U.S. Navy refused to comment on the object. However, the internet wasn’t going to accept that answer.
One company, H.I. Sutton (an expert in underwater military systems), said that it was probably used for “deep water asset recovery” and underwater mapping.
Many of the cube parts shown in the social media posts would support this idea. It might sound boring, but this function is incredibly vital to military tactics.
The theory was further solidified when people found online maps and satellite feedback which shows the Bruce Heezen moving in very systematic and exact patterns within Croatian waters…
… much like what you would do if you were mapping an area. How is this important?
Knowing your environment is crucial when planning maritime operations.
Whether it’s to manoeuver underwater or to send smaller equipment to certain areas. It’s basically a heavy-duty GPS map. Either the Navy was performing test operations or they were using the area for testing equipment. The only conclusions people were left with?
The U.S and Croatia are allies and members of NATO.
The Navy was testing something with permission “in accordance with the provisions of the Maritime Code”. There was some form of mapping involved. Bigava finally got his nets replaced … and he would have an amazing story to tell for years to come.