Go Back Report # 380


See Feb 1971 continuation for correction of the date in this first page-CF-         


Search For Other Witnesses Continues       

       The complexity and frustration of proper investigation of a UFO report are aptly demonstrated by recent efforts of NICAP to secure corroborating evidence to an unreported sighting of an object that allegedly moved above and beneath the surface of the ocean.

The original report was received by NICAP last May from a 24-year-old man in the Midwestern United States who claimed to be one of at least four Navy crewmen who spotted the strange object from their ship, which was operating in the South China Sea in April 1968. According to the report, the object was seen at night as it approached the ship on an underwater path, at a range that varied from approximately ten miles when first observed to an estimated 1000 yards at its closest point.

This is how the witness described the incident:

       "In the early morning hours of April 1968, my ship was cruising through the South China Seas en route toward Vietnam. We had departed Okinawa a few hours prior and I was standing fantail watch in the after part of the ship. It was quite dark. Suddenly I saw a huge light beneath the water moving rapidly from the northeast and closing the ship. I reported this to the Officer of the Deck through my headset. By this time the huge light had passed in front of the ship and both the starboard and port lookouts confirmed my report. It was definitely round and appeared to be revolving. The ship was not equipped with sonar detection and radar saw nothing on the scope beings (sic) the object was deep in the water. The lookouts and the OOD continued watching the light as it moved with incredible speed toward the southwest. When it was nearly out of sight on the horizon a bright light suddenly appeared above the ocean and radar immediately picked up a blip from out of nowhere on the scope. This bright object then retraced the path backwards that it had taken while underwater. Only this time, remaining high in the sky, it moved from horizon to horizon all in about 10 seconds flat. When the Quartermaster asked the OOD what to identify the object as for the ship's log, the OOD just scratched his head and told him to write it off as a helicopter. The incident was discussed among the crew for weeks."

       In attempting to check out this report, NICAP first obtained additional details from the witness, including as many names and addresses of fellow crew members as he could remember. The man could not recall the names of the two lookouts who supposedly witnessed the object with him, but he did remember the name of the radar operator. Thus far, NICAP has been unable to locate this latter individual.

The second step in the investigation was to determine the present location of the ship and the whereabouts of its official records, including the "log" referred to in the report. This was especially important because the witness could not remember the exact date of the sighting.

       Inquiry to Navy sources in Washington disclosed that the ship was stationed in Japan but was probably out of service. Further inquiry, however, revealed that a "deck log" for 1968 had been forwarded from the ship to a government accession facility in Maryland, where it was available for examination. In June, after obtaining the necessary clearance, NICAP reviewed the log and was permitted to make notes on its contents.

       This examination brought the unexpected discovery that the ship was not in the vicinity of Okinawa at any time during April 1968, but instead was engaged in combat operations off the coast of Vietnam. A further search, however, showed that the ship had been at Okinawa in early March and had departed there on the afternoon of Friday, March 15, for Vietnam. Since the witness said he was certain the sighting occurred while the ship was en route to Southeast Asia, it would appear that the night of March 15, or the early morning of March 16, is the date in question. When told of what the log revealed, however, the witness said he did not think the sighting took place in March.

       Since the Officer of the Deck (OOD) played a key role in the incident, NICAP asked the witness to recall the name of the person who was assigned that post at the time of the sighting. The witness said he was not sure, but he thought the name was Lieutenant P. A check of NICAP's notes from the log showed that in fact a Lt. P.J.P. was OOD from 8 P.M. (local time) to Midnight on March 15. Although this seems to agree with the testimony of the witness, it raises the question of exactly when the sighting occurred, since it could not have come "in the early morning hours" and still happened "a few hours" after the ship left Okinawa, because the departure time of the ship, as recorded in the log, was 4 P.M. (four hours before Lt. P. was scheduled to stand watch ).                                                                                                   

This reference: The “UFO Investigator”, a publication of NICAP, January 1971, p. 3  

UFO INVESTIGATOR FEBRUARY 1971 (continuation of previous month)


Time and Location Remain Uncertain

This continues the discussion begun last month of NICAP's investigation of a report of a UFO that allegedly traveled both underwater and in the atmosphere. The sighting is supposed to have occurred in the South China Sea while the witnesses were on a U.S. Navy ship en route to Vietnam.

       As already indicated, there is some question as to the time of the sighting. According to the primary witness, the incident occurred during the watch of Lieutenant P.* "a few hours" after the ship had left Okinawa. This appears to be partially confirmed by the deck log for the day in question-- March 15, 1968 --which shows that the ship departed Okinawa at 4 p.m. (local time) and Lt. P.J.P. stood watch as Officer of the Deck (OOD) between 8 p.m. and midnight that same evening. The log, however, shows no report of anything unusual during Lt. P.'s watch.

       Another possible time period for the sighting develops from the witness's statement that the incident took place "in the early morning hours," which would suggest sometime after midnight of the 15th. Since the log shows that Lt. P. stood another four-hour watch from 4 to 8 a.m. on the 16th, it is possible the sighting was made at pre-dawn, some 12 or more hours after the ship had gotten underway. However, no unusual entry is recorded in the log for this period either.

       In the absence of additional information, there would seem no way to choose between the two time frames, since either is a reasonable possibility, if not literally consistent with the testimony. On the other hand, there may be no discrepancy in the witness's statement if his references to time are assumed to be general rather than specific. It is possible, for example, that the sighting occurred within a short time of midnight, which would put it very late on the 15th or very early on the 16th. To the witness, trying two years later to remember the exact hour, this time might easily seem to have been "early in the morning," not long after the ship had put out to sea.

[*Full names being withheld pending completion of investigation.]    

       This hypothesis is strengthened by another datum in the report. On the NICAP questionnaire, the witness states that the sighting occurred at "approximately 1 a.m." Okinawa time. In making this statement, he apparently did not realize (or at least failed to note on the form) that the ship had passed from one time zone to another after it left Okinawa. This is known from the log. Since the ship was traveling southwestward (with the Sun), it gained an hour when it made the transition, which means the time on the ship was earlier than the witness thought when he filled out the questionnaire. This puts the time of the sighting at midnight, when Lt. P. was finishing his watch

       The time might not be critical if other things were equal, but a number of elements in the report vary, depending on the time. Among these are the weather conditions, the location and status of the ship, the men on duty, the activities of the witnesses, and, of course, the date.

       On the assumption the sighting occurred during, or just after, the watch of Lt. P. on March 15, a rough calculation can be made of the ship's position when the UFO was observed. Since the normal operating speed of the vessel was approximately 13 miles per hour, the ship could not have been much more than 100 miles from Okinawa at midnight (assuming it departed at 4 p.m., as the log indicates, and maintained steady speed on a straight course). From this it is immediately apparent that the sighting could not have happened in the South China Sea, as reported, because the South China Sea is some 600 miles from Okinawa. This discrepancy may not be important since the ship was in open water in any event, but in conjunction with other inaccuracies, it does raise the question of the report's reliability on specific details.

       The problem of date, time, and location would have been immediately resolved if the log in which the sighting was supposedly recorded (as a "helicopter") had turned up, Since the deck log makes no such reference, NICAP sought other ship documents that might supply the missing information. Since the witness said the entry in the log was made by the quartermaster, a hunt was conducted for the quartermaster notebooks, which usually include more detail than the deck log.

       For reasons still not clear, these notebooks cannot be located in official files. The Federal Records Center where the ship's deck logs are now maintained has no record of the notebooks. Nor has a similar facility in San Francisco, which told NICAP it has other records from the ship but not the notebooks.

       Puzzled that the books should be missing but informed by reliable sources that such records are often misplaced, NICAP decided to check the possibility the books were still on the ship. The ship had been decommissioned in Japan in the same month NICAP received the original report: May 1970. Normally, records are removed from a ship when it is taken out of service, but not always. Going back to Navy sources in Washington, NICAP learned the name and address of the officer who had been in command of the ship at the time of its decommissioning. This man, Lt. C.H., was contacted and asked if he knew what happened to the quartermaster notebooks. He said he did not, but he thought they might have remained aboard the vessel. NICAP immediately wrote the Naval facility in Japan where the ship had been sent, and learned that "the location or disposition of the Quartermaster Notebooks is unknown." Moreover, the ship is no longer in Navy possession, having been "sold for scrap" in November 1970.                                                         

This reference: The “UFO Investigator”, a publication of NICAP, February 1971, p. 3

UFO INVESTIGATOR MAY 1971 (Continuation of February 1971)


Ship Officers Disclaim All Knowledge          

       Persistence has yet to pay off for NICAP in its search for corroborating evidence to the alleged encounter of a U.S. Navy ship with a strange object that appeared to travel underwater as well as in the air (UFO Investigator, February 1971). Despite success in locating ship personnel who should be able to confirm the incident, NICAP has found no source that will admit to knowledge of the sighting, which reportedly occurred in the South China Sea in 1968.

       NICAP has now tracked down and talked with four men who were key members of the ship's company at the time the event supposedly occurred. The first man, Lieutenant J.J., former captain of the ship, told NICAP he did not remember any such incident, and said his private log backed him up. He did remember another unusual incident on almost the same day, but it did not involve a UFO or bear any strong similarity to the reported sighting.

       This other incident, recorded in Lt. J.'s log for the evening of March 18, 1968 (three days after the sighting is believed to have occurred), concerned an unidentified object detected on the surface of the ocean by the ship's radar. Not knowing what it was and being unable to spot it visually, the captain stopped the ship and waited to see what the object would do. When nothing happened, the ship resumed its journey, and the incident was forgotten.

       The captain questioned whether this occurrence could have been the stimulus for the sighting report. He said it is common for a young seaman who is new to the environment of the open sea to misinterpret or exaggerate an unusual event. This is particularly true, he said, for seamen standing deck watch at night, as the young man who reported the sighting to NICAP said he was doing when the sighting happened...

       NICAP doubted that this could adequately account for the details of the UFO report, but it was a possibility that had to be considered. The witness admitted he had read about UFOs prior to joining the Navy and had been involved in a sighting in 1966 in his hometown. He also said, on the NICAP questionnaire, that when he saw the UFO, he was "awed and shocked," and "nervous afterward." "I felt," he said, "that I was watching something completely fantastic and beyond my understanding."

       NICAP also located the man who was supposedly the Officer of the Deck at the time of the sighting. This man, Lieutenant P.P., has since left the Navy and is now living in New Jersey. He expressed complete ignorance of the alleged incident.

       Similar reactions were received from Lieutenant J.C., the man who stood watch as Officer of the Deck after Lt. P.P.'s watch had ended, and from Quartermaster D.G., who had been on duty the night of the sighting and presumably was the person who recorded the incident in the ship's quartermaster notebooks. NICAP spoke with both men by telephone‑‑and asked each if he could provide any information that might support or refute the sighting report. Both said no.           

This reference: The “UFO Investigator”, a publication of NICAP, May 1971, p. 1

With Thanks to Larry Hatch’s *U* UFO DATABASE, see http://www.larryhatch.net    

UFOCAT PRN – 69804

UFOCAT URN – 69804 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, January 1971, p. 3

UFOCAT URN – 69806 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, February 1971, p. 3

UFOCAT URN – NONE  UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, May 1971, p. 1          

East China Sea

Okinawa Group, Japan – Latitude 26-40-0 N, Longitude 128-0-0 E (D-M-S)

This reference:

Reference: http://www.fallingrain.com/world/

The South China Sea is bounded by China, Vietnam, Malaysia & the Philippines       


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