A New York man thought he spotted a washed-up buoy during a recent walk in nature — until he got closer and noticed it had a propeller and “unsettling” blinking light, photos show.
The most Tyler Davis was expecting to find at Sampson State Park was peace and quiet, maybe a few fossils, and “great views” of Seneca Lake, he told McClatchy News.
Instead, he found what appeared to be a misplaced weapon of war.
“Well I think I stumbled upon a torpedo maybe?” Davis said in a Feb. 10 Facebook post, sharing a photo of his eye-popping find.
“Did you try and hit it with a hammer?” one commenter said.
Another suggested the — slightly safer? — approach of throwing large rocks at it to “see if anything happens.”
But, dangerous or not, Davis was too curious to keep away from the object.
“I knew I found something pretty cool,” he said. “The only unsettling thing was the blinking sensor lights that were going off.”
On closer inspection, markings and lettering can be seen all over the object, photos show.
Along the cluttered exterior, there was also a phone number, Davis said. He called but nobody answered, so he left a message.
“It had some warnings on it but I had no clue if it was dangerous or not,” Davis said.
While waiting for a call back, it occurred to him that the torpedo-like object would make quite a souvenir, assuming it didn’t blow up or start leaking nuclear waste.
“The thought of taking it definitely popped up, but with it still working and blinking I wanted to return it,” he said.
Eventually, Davis’ call was returned.
The mystery device belonged to a military base, the Seneca Lake Sonar Test Facility, according to Davis. And it wasn’t a torpedo, but a MK 39 training device, he added.
According to the Navy, the MK 39 Expendable Mobile Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Target, or EMATT, is used in training to “simulate the acoustic and dynamic characteristics of a submarine.” In other words, it functions like a dummy submarine, a target that sailors use “to train their detection, tracking and weapon employment skills,” the Navy says.
Davis then helped the Navy find their lost MK 39.
“When I was finally contacted they thanked me … and had me pinpoint it on a map so they could retrieve it,” he said. “They said after its course, they return to the surface and get collected but this one escaped.”
McClatchy News reached out to the Navy for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Davis may have lost out on having the ultimate coffee table conversation piece, he said, but at least he got a good story out of it.
It’s “the best find I’ll probably ever have!” he said. “Besides, I got to share it with a lot of people so I’m happy!”
Sampson State Park is about 250 miles northwest of New York City.