The lighthouse and the aircraft carrier.

Believe it or not…this is the transcript of an actual radio conversation between a US naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. The Radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on Oct. 10, 1995.

US Ship: Please divert your course 0.5 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.

CND reply: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

US Ship: This is the Captain of a US Navy Ship. I say again, divert your course.

CND reply: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course!

US Ship: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS CORAL SEA, WE ARE A LARGE WARSHIP OF THE US NAVY. DIVERT YOUR COURSE NOW!!

CND reply: This is a lighthouse. Your call.


While there is no evidence that this event ever took place, the urban legend of “the lighthouse vs. the carrier” is a variation on a joke that dates to at least the 1930s. The U.S. Navy has a webpage debunking the scenario as implausible for a number of reasons. Most often it is used as a witty parable teaching the dangers of inflexibility and self-importance, and the need for situational awareness.

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