Senior Chief Frank Turban

US Navy

Frank was a communications technician, or as he calls it, a “spook.” He served in the US Navy from 1963-1983 - the height of the Cold War. Frank’s job was to interpret encrypted signals from Soviet submarines. In 1973, he was part of the crew of the USS Flying Fish under Captain JD Williams on a particularly successful special operation.

Using cutting edge detection equipment, Captain Williams and his crew found the first of the new class of Delta nuclear ballistic submarines on sea trials. Its R29 missiles had twice the range of its predecessor’s, so could hit US targets from close to Soviet shores. It was a landmark moment in Cold War submarine warfare. Frank’s talent for deciphering helped fingerprint the most powerful submarine the Soviets had ever produced at that time. “It wasn’t even operational yet – and we knew everything about it! I don’t have superlative words in my vocabulary to be able to describe how big that is!”