top of page

Demon from the Deep - Kraken vs. USS Stein

Ever since humans first encountered the ocean, we have imagined titanic monsters dwelling within. Greek sailors told tales of Scylla and Charybdis. Hebrew myth tells of the Leviathan. Norsemen feared the mighty sea-serpent Jörmungand. Modern legends from Southern Asia speak of the massive humanoid Ningen.

One monster stands above all others in both popularity and likelihood of existence. The Kraken, greatest of all squids and king of the depths.

Beware the Ripples

The smile of a person about to become a snack

The first mention of the Kraken comes from King Sverre of Norway in 1180 CE. According to the manuscript penned by King Sverre, the Kraken was one part of a vast ecology of monsters that call the waters between Norway and Iceland home. What set the Kraken apart was its size.

King Sverre noted that the Kraken is easy to confuse for an island when it surfaces. It can, and will, destroy any ship foolish enough to stray too near. Initially, the Kraken was described as being kilometers in length. As the legend persisted and evolved, its size was reduced somewhat, and it took on the cephalopodean description we know today.

One factor remained constant, Kraken attack and sink ships. That's exactly what it tried to do to the USS Stein in 1976.

USS Stein - Destroyer, Frigate, Veteran

The USS Stein carved its name on the sea on 19 December 1970. Commissioned in 1972, the USS Stein would be in active service for 20 years before being retired. During its time in active service, it would be involved in the Vietnam-USA war. The ship even circumnavigated the globe once before eventually being decommissioned in 1992.

All in all, it was a standard weapon of war that spent its time uneventfully serving the US Navy. The USS Stein would have faded from memory had it not been for a run in with what some are saying was the mythical Kraken.

Tentacle vs. Steel

The USS Stein was clawed into the history books in 1976. Something attacked part of the sonar system. Although the damage done was superficial, the implications were monumental.

Multiple deep cuts were discovered in the "NOFOUL" rubber seal, covering 8% of the dome's surface. Within these cuts the sailors found large curved claws. These claws would be identified as the kind that squids have on the suction cups.

The only problem was that the size of the claws implied a squid nearly 45 meters (150 ft) in length. No squid of that size exists, at least no documented species can reach that size.

Colossal Squid are officially the biggest species of cephalopod. They reach a comparatively pathetic 14 meters (46 ft) in length. While a squid that size is still the stuff of nightmares, it's not what attacked the USS Stein.


Something huge attacked the USS Stein. That much is true. What exactly that thing was is as unknown as most of the ocean floor. Humans know more about deep space than the deep oceans, and there could be anything down there. Just another reason to avoid the beaches this summer.

We leave you with this poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep,

Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,

His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep

The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee

About his shadowy sides; above him swell

Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;

And far away into the sickly light,

From many a wondrous grot and secret cell

Unnumbered and enormous polypi

Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.

There hath he lain for ages, and will lie

Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,

Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;

Then once by man and angels to be seen,

In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.