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Diego Garcia Logo 10G1
The Provisional Peoples' Democratic Republic of Diego Garcia's
Hook, Line, and Sinker Division Presents:

Hector the Hammerhead! 

Hector the
                Hammerhead - Diego Garcia 1980
Many thanks to George Wilson for this scan of the famous photo of Hector. 
The boat was 26' long; when finally killed, Hector was measured at 28' long. 
The photo is from late 1980 or early 1981.

And here are photos provided by Vernon Wong.  Vernon spent many years on DG, and collected great photos.   First the bait, then the results!  Old Hector could have swallowed a fat man whole....

Read below to learn the real story of these photos! 

Shark as

Received 29 Jan 2014:
From:  Keith Dean <>
I was there 1981 and for some distorted reason remember Hector being bigger than 23ft.
My cousin Wendell thinks he has a picture from that time when he was on Ajax.
I would like to copy what you have.
The Dive Supervisor on this vessel believes that Hector couldn't have been a hammerhead.
I will have to agree with him calling bullshit on 48ft.
When I saw him I would have sworn he was that big.
Keith Thompson EMT/P DMT

Received December 9, 2013:
From:  Kevin L. Mackey <>

I was an ICMan (Interior Communications Electrician) aboard the USS Jason AR-8, US Navy Heavy Repair Ship for WestPac/Indian Ocean Cruise 80/81. Our ship was in the midst of flight ops / Vertical Replenishment (practice) and a radio call came in on the bridge from the Helo pilot. He wanted to know if we had a divers aboard. The Officer of the Deck told them "yes, we are a repair ship." He them to call for a diver to come to the bridge and get on the radio. The officer in charge of the divers came up and the pilot told them that there was a shark in the waters below the Jason. The diver said, "Of course their is, this is the Indian Ocean." He said "you don't understand, there is a huge shark setting on your anchor." "Every time we fly out it is there."
We would from time to time go to the pier to load supplies and return to anchor, and the shark would take up position on our anchor. ... Since we were the USS Jason, named after the Greek Mythology "Jason and the Argonauts" the shark was given the name Hector. It was so identified with the Jason that when we returned to the US, and then changed home port to Pearl Harbor, I was still aboard, late 1981 when a sailor from the photo shop came up to me and said, "Mackey, you were on WestPac 80/81 checking a clipboard, and he handed me an manila envelope from a stack he was carrying and said, "Complements of the Admiral of the 11th Fleet." I asked what it was, and he said he didn't know, that a photo had come in and they were told to print copies and deliver them to everyone that had been aboard for WestPac 80/81. I open the envelope and a copy of the picture that appears at the top of your Hector Page was in the envelope. It took me to realize that the photo was of Hector.
He was given his name in Very late 1980 (we arrived in early December). ... He was still alive in 1981, when we left in late February.
He was so connected to the USS Jason, that the Admiral sent us the picture, 6 months or so after we left Diego Garcia. ... It seems odd that the photo claims an earlier origin. If that was true, why was it not circulating when we were there, and why did the Admiral send it at Navy expense to us long after we left?
A couple of years later, I heard some sailors were sent with the mission of catching Hector. The sailor that told me the story, told me they caught him with a steel cable using a motor LCM and an electric wench. The pulled him aboard and killed him. He said the measurements were 28 feet long and he gave the weight, which I have long forgot.
Some of guys in December were fishing from the fantail and were getting bites, but the line would snap soon after the bite. They figured out they needed to use steel leaders, and then they pulled up a small hammer head. Just as they got it to the top oof the water, Hector surfaced and ate it.
Kevin L. Mackey
ICman aboard the USS Jason 1980-1983 -- US Navy 1979-1983 -- IC-2 upon discharge

Received 4 Dec 2013
From:  Scott Rankin <>

Hi, the picture at the top of your wesite was taken from the after deck of the USS AJAX (AR-6) in 1980.  I know.  I was standing right there when the person took the photo.  I pointed out the shark.  The boat is not a captains gig but the officers;' boat and it's only 26 feet long, not 28 feet.
Scott Rankin

From:  Alan Saltonstall <>
Date:  7 Sep 2007

I was facinated to visit the site and find and old shipmate of mine Tony Pallace reciting the adventure of our days fishing.  I can confirm and authentictate Tonys tale as I am the one in the red shorts on the boat.  The other lads were Jim Laden, Ray Bateman, Pusser Hill, Vince and me, Salty Saltonstall.  I am sorry if I missed anyone out.  The times in 79 - 80 were fantastic and we had a rather eccentric Brit xo called Bernie "the beast" Bruen.  He was an excellent boxer and never lost a golden gloves contest during his time.  I did enter the golden gloves and my first three fights were TKOs then I won one.  We had a great time working at the power plant with our US comrades and some of their stories I relate to.  There were some great times at the Ship Inn.  Hello Ginge Howard, Screwy Driver, Fletch, Jed Stone, Bamber Gascoigne and all.  I did return as the Senior Customs and Immigration Officer in 1998-99 and thoroughly enjoyed my tour but this time it was too commercialised and the BIOT and Britrep (big chip on little shoulders)  went out of their way to disrupt the pleasure of making full use of Diego Garcia as a fun place to be. This tour was different but I met some great people Nick Wakem who remains a great friend and Big Murph - came from New York to my wedding in 2001 - a great guy. We were the ones who built and constructed the new Brit club to completion and I hope you all enjoy the beers on the beach.
Any person who relates to this story are more than happy to contact me.   Thanks and bye.

From:  Anthony Pallace <>
Date:  22 June 2006

     The photos accredited to Vernon Wong, of Hector and his bait, were taken by me, Tony Pallace.  I have the originals and a few more.  I was the Leading Writer on the Island between October 79 and November 80.  My job was “gopher” to the Britrep (US equivalent being the Yeoman).
     On the day in question (I can’t remember exactly when, but maybe around Feb-may 80) a half dozen of us ‘Brits’ took a boat out for a days fishing and Coors drinking.  We caught the original shark (which is obviously not a hammerhead), pulled it onboard and “gaffed” it a few times to draw blood.  I took a photo of this shark with my foot in its mouth to show dimension (about 4-5 feet long), I also took the photo you see, which shows the cut marks we made in order to attract other sharks.  We then tied a rope around its tail in order to trawl it and see what we could see.
     It wasn’t long before someone shouted “what the hell is that” as a giant dark shadow appeared near the bait.  There was terrific excitement on the boat when the shadow emerged as Hector the Hammerhead.  He serenely took the ‘bait’ by swallowing it nearly whole, unconcerned that he was only a few feet from the back of the boat.  (He was unconcerned but a few of us were a little apprehensive as we had obviously never seen anything like it in our lives).
     The amazing thing was that Hector stayed with us, circling around the back of the boat, long enough not only for the photos to be taken, but also for one of the guys to be able to “gaff” Hector with a hooked spike tied to a couple of small buoys.  After a few minutes we were able to track Hector’s movements for a while as the buoys were pulled along the surface at speed, creating their own spray as Hector sped off (I kid you not it was shades of “Jaws” and an absolutely fantastic sight).
      After a short while the buoys completely disappeared underwater.  It was a few more minutes later, after scanning the area, when the buoys erupted into the air and settled on the surface a distance away.  The spike had obviously worked loose as we recovered the buoys with no further sight of the magnificent Hector.
     Once developed, my photos became hugely sought after and I was able to give copies to most who asked for them, including the Britrep and the American OC.  I was surprised and delighted to see my photos on your website and more than happy to validate them.  We estimated Hector at the time to be about 23ft long.
Hope this clears up some of the myths,
Tony Pallace
(still in the Royal Navy)


Tony Palace's first sighting of HectorTony
                      Palace's Foot in the Bait's Mouth!Hector the
                      Hammerhead taking the bait

Of course Hector has achieved myth status, and perhaps what they say is not true???

Date:  22 Dec 2005, 01:17:41 AM
Subject:  The Legend of Hector
Hi: I have always been curious about the legend of Hector. Those same pics at your site are on the wall in the Seaman's center. The story as told to me by Mango is that the shark pictured is not Hector. The slash marks visible on that shark are supposed to be from Hector who was a much larger Great White who tried to eat the one in the pictures.
Happy Holly Days,
Chuck Fasst

From:  Chris Kelley <>
28 Feb 2008
     What a great thing it was to see you have Hector on the web.
     I believe that the photo that George Wilson scanned for you is one taken in November, 1980 from the fantail of the USS Puget Sound AD-38 by the fantail watch or someone with him. We were stationed there in the Fall / Winter of 1980 to relieve the Dixon. I actually saw a hard copy of this when our Master Diver Chester Stanley showed it to us. He was so proud of it he would not share copies.
     The British customs officials at the time had lots of anecdotal stories about him and told us that British and American sailors from WWII has seen or heard of Hector during the war; which made him quite old in 1980. In a 1970s / 80s book called "Shark!" the author insisted hammerheads got no longer than nine (or thirteen?) feet long. I forget which, but after having seen Hector, I was sure wishing there was a way to tell the author about the Diego Garcia shark.
     One thing that struck me was the British stationed there told us they had no record of Hector killing or maiming any man. Funny, the British told us not to swim in the lagoon; the Americans told us not to swim in the open seas - or was it the other way around? Anyway, we swam in both!
     I have a neat photo of some WWII guns on the beach where we swam. I'll send them from home as work won't send e-mails larger than a certain size.
     The reason swimming in the open ocean was frowned on were the black tip reef sharks that populated the black coral reefs on the slopes about 60-90 feet down. I guess they were worried the sharks would wander up for a nice bite of calf meat.
     At the time we were there, there were mostly crazed Sea Bees, chickens and donkeys - and an army of coconut crabs. Sleeping in the open screened huts on the [then scarcely populated and untainted] island was a lifetime experience. I wondered then at the future when Hilton or the Sheraton would ruin the island, or civilians from the PI would move there. Later, last decade, I saw an Air Force film showing PI civilians and barracks and enlisted quarters and...ugh! I am so glad I got to see the place before that mess.
     Thank you for having this site on the INet!
Chris Kelley, PE
Professional Engineer / Hydraulic Specialist
Apex, NC
Former MM2/DV, R5 Division Dive Locker

1983  and 1984 (see his entire warstory on the 1983 page)
NAME = Eddie Turnipseed
MY QUEST = To follow the Bald Eagle
VT of a SWALLOW = 11 meters per second, or 24 mph.
RANK/RATE/JOB = Operation Specialist
...  I want to talk about a Hammerhead named Hector. I was up on the bridge one day on watch chatting with my CO. I looked down on the starboard side and saw a young whale approaching the ship. It rammed it's head into the bow about three times. I said ' Wow! Look!! There is a whale by us. It must be a young one. Maybe it's sick or lost from it's mom. Hey!! It is bumping the ship with it's head'. At that time a guy on watch with me looks through a sent of binoculars and said 'Damn. Shit!! That's a shark'!! So I went down and up to the bow as fast as I could and watched this monster swim for about a bit and then it left. Somebody near me had a camera and took some photos. We think it was about 25 ½ to 27 feet long. Now when I get to the island (as mentioned above) I went on a tour and went fishing and went diving. I saw some of the boats you could rent out that had some bit marks in them. I got a few photos and if I ever find all my Navy stuff I will add them to this site. I saw a boat that had the motor chomped on and was pulled off by Hector. Now, these are stories I am getting from the locals (military) and they really believe Hector is the one that goes after anything that moves. This is his territory and don't mess with him. I heard of guys who claimed the have gaffed him once or twice and he holds a grudge for all of this. Maybe so? I anybody has been there after '86 let us know if you heard of stories of Hector. I want to know if he lived a long life. They can live up to 40 years and some have bee known to live up to 50 years...


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                      Logo 10G1
  If anyone has any other photos, please send them to me and I'll get them on this page.

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