Newly released documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request have revealed a bizarre series of events that unfolded off the coast of California involving both U.S. Navy destroyers and unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. The Navy is currently referring to these unknown aircraft as drones or UAVs.
In 2019, a high-level investigation was launched after as many as six UFOs were reported swarming around the destroyers on multiple occasions.
The Drive reports the drones were described as flying for prolonged periods in low-visibility conditions, and performing brazen maneuvers over the Navy warships near a sensitive military training range less than 100 miles off Los Angeles.
The ensuing investigation included elements of the Navy, Coast Guard, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The incidents received major attention, including from the Chief of Naval Operations—the apex of the Navy’s chain of command.
Deck logs from the involved ships were obtained via an FOIA request, along with hundreds of gigabytes of Automatic Identification System (AIS) location data. Investigators were able to “forensically reconstruct the position of both military and civilian ships in the area during this strange series of events,” according to The Drive.
The first incident took place on July 14, 2019.
Deck logs like the one below provide information about the course and speed of the ship. Additionally, they record any other relevant information about unusual events or changes in the ship’s behavior. This log records the first drone sighting:
Two drones, typically described as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles throughout the logs, were spotted by the Kidd. The Ship Nautical Or Otherwise Photographic Interpretation and Exploitation team, or “SNOOPIE team,” refers to an onboard photographic intelligence team tasked with documenting unknown contacts, events of interest, and other objects of interest on short order.
Though an Aegis-equipped ship like the USS Kidd has some of the most sophisticated sensors on earth, sailors equipped with consumer-grade cameras act as a kind of nimble spotting and event recording team, able to quickly adapt to changing conditions while providing situational awareness and recording what they see through traditional video and photo methods.
Moments after the sighting on July 14th, the USS Kidd entered into a condition of restricted communications designed to enhance operational security and enhance survivability. This is noted throughout many of the logs as “River City 1.” During the events, the ships often engaged “emissions control,” or EMCON, protocols designed to minimize their electronic emissions profile.
Less than 10 minutes after the sighting, the USS Kidd advised the USS Rafael Peralta of the situation. The USS Rafael Peralta logs show that at around 10:00 PM it activated its own SNOOPIE team. They also show that reports of additional sightings were coming in from the USS John Finn.
For its part, the logs of the USS John Finn simply reported possible UAV activity, and deactivation of the ship’s AIS transponder system. In fact, the selective deactivation of AIS was a challenge for us in reconstructing ship positions, as we sometimes had to rely on cross-comparison of deck logs to locate the position of the ships.
Shortly after the initial sighting, a red flashing light was spotted.
Among the more dramatic entries in the logs from this incident is the one below from the USS Rafael Peralta, describing a white light hovering over the ship’s flight deck.
The log reflects that the drone managed to match the destroyer’s speed with the craft moving at 16 knots in order to maintain a hovering position over the ship’s helicopter landing pad. To further complicate what was already a complex maneuver, the drone was operating in low visibility conditions (less than a nautical mile) and at night.
Main Image Credit: Dmitriy Leonovich, Pinterest (Illustrative)