Is That a Russian Sub Lurking Off the Jersey Shore?

What appears at first blush to be a pretty good photo of a surfer enjoying the waves off the Jersey Shore may upon closer scrutiny reveal a Russian nuclear sub trolling the waters off America's eastern seaboard.

NBC Philadelphia reader Andrew Ferguson, identified as CARDRAFPHOTO on the site, posted the shocking photo to on Wednesday of a surfer with something ominous on the horizon.

The post had a lot of people buzzing -- with everyone from the Coast Guard to users on Twitter, Digg and NBC Philadelphia joining in the debate over what they were seeing.

"I was down the Ocean City shore in New Jersey, Corsons Inlet on Sunday photographing the wave and surfers. When I got back home to veiw [sic] the pics on my computer, I noticed something odd in the back ground so I enlarge the photo, and there it was a 'submarine' had surfaced," read Ferguson's caption on So Philly.

Ferguson, a roofer by trade who regularly goes out shooting with his Sony Alpha 900, went in for a closer look.

"I zoomed in and I go, 'Wow, that looks like a submarine," said Ferguson.

Minutes later, CARDRAFPHOTO posted another pic zooming in on the object. From there the conversation spread to Tweeters and Digg users.

"That would be a Soviet Typhoon Class Nuclear Submarine," wrote NBCPhiladelphia commenter TomM, though he appears to have been incorrect in his assessment. 

On the other hand, another commenter, Jeff Kelly, said it's merely equipment from the dredging of Corson's Inlet. An Aug. 22 report in the Press of Atlantic City indicated that the dredger had "been moved from Corson's Inlet to a safe harbor in Cape May to ride out" hurricane Bill. Kelly maintains that the pictured object is likely the piping left behind, and possible a barge inspecting for damage.

A call to the Coast Guard revealed that they had seen the photo on NBCPhiladelphia, but were not aware of any submarine activity near Corson's Inlet.

As coincidence would have it, a pair of nuclear-powered Russian subs actually have been patrolling the Atlantic, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

"I don’t think they’ve put two first-line nuclear subs off the U.S. coast in about 15 years,” naval historian and submarine warfare expert Norman Polmar told The Times.

All this comes on the heels of Russia's humiliating failed test launch of a Bulava missile from a submarine in July. and at a time when President Obama has struggled to normalize relations with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

"Anytime the Russian Navy does something so out of the ordinary it is cause for worry," a senior Defense Department official told The Times.

Asked if he was aware of the recent reports, Ferguson said he had read something, but hadn't "put two and two together," 

"I know (nuclear subs) are a hundred-percent safe ... Russians are more than welcome to come to our country, but not their subs," he added.

Ferguson even showed the photos to his grandfather, who scoffed at the idea that it was in fact a Russian sub in the photo.

Grandpa says, "No, they don't come in that close," laughed Ferguson. 

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