See Feb 1971 continuation for correction of the date in this
UNDERWATER UFO CASE
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
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 ).
reference: The “UFO Investigator”, a publication of NICAP, January 1971, p. 3
UFO INVESTIGATOR FEBRUARY 1971 (continuation of
UNDERWATER UFO CASE
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.
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
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.
reference: The “UFO Investigator”, a publication of NICAP, February 1971, p.
INVESTIGATOR MAY 1971 (Continuation of February 1971)
UNDERWATER UFO CASE STILL UNVERIFIED
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.
reference: The “UFO Investigator”, a publication of NICAP, May 1971, p. 1
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)
The South China Sea is bounded by China, Vietnam,
Malaysia & the Philippines