The World Wonders - Message

Message

When Nimitz, at CINCPAC headquarters in Hawaii, saw Kinkaid's plea for help he sent a message to Halsey, simply asking for the current location of Task Force 34, which due to a previous misunderstanding, was unclear:

Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four?

With the addition of metadata including routing and classification information, as well as the padding at the head and tail, the entire plaintext message to be encoded and transmitted to Halsey was:

TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM CINCPAC ACTION COM THIRD FLEET INFO COMINCH CTF SEVENTY-SEVEN X WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR RR THE WORLD WONDERS

U.S. Navy procedure called for the padding to be added to the start and end of the message, which, due to the common words and phrases often being used in those sections, were vulnerable to cryptanalysis. The words chosen for padding should have been obviously not part of the actual message, however Nimitz's enciphering clerk used a phrase that " popped into my head".

While decrypting and transcribing the message, Halsey's radio officer properly removed the leading phrase, but the trailing phrase looked appropriate and he seems to have thought it was intended and so left it in before passing it on to Halsey, who read it as

Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four? The world wonders.

The structure tagging (the 'RR's) should have made clear that the phrase was in fact padding. In all the ships and stations that received the message, only New Jersey's communicators failed to delete both padding phrases.

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Famous quotes containing the word message:

    If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me; I’ll carry it!
    —Administration in the State of Sout, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)

    Here [in London, history] ... seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning, age upon age, generated over the centuries to the dictates of some now all-but-unreadable DNA of commerce and empire.
    William Gibson (b. 1948)

    The message you give your children when you discipline with love is “I care too much about you to let you misbehave. I care enough about you that I’m willing to spend time and effort to help you learn what is appropriate.” All children need the security and stability of food, shelter, love, and protection, but unless they also receive effective and appropriate discipline, they won’t feel secure.
    Stephanie Marston (20th century)