Go Back Report # 386
A large number of "USOs" have been seen in the Santa Monica Bay and Santa Catalina


From the APRO Files:  

Submitted by:  R. H. Pell                                                                      Note:   This sighting is

                        Underwater Sound Laboratory                                                close to the

                        Research Detachment                                                              Shag Harbour

                        Fleet Post Office, NY 09560                                                      sighting           

THE COAST GUARD                                            SHELBURNE, NOVA SCOTIA                                  MAY 9, 1968

What Was It? 

       CLARK'S HARBOUR -- Capt. Woodrow Atwood and the crew of the fishing boat “Which Way In" had a frightening experience about eight o'clock Saturday evening when about one and a half hours below Seal Island.

       The captain was watching the compass when he saw a light to the nort[h], about the size of a match light. Suddenly it burst into a blood red light and appeared to be about 50 to 75 yards away, coming towards the boat. As he watched through the window it became so hot he had to move away. The light floated overread (sic) for about five minutes then lowered and seemed to float towards Brown's Bank.

       Capt. Atwood called by radio to tell of his experience and was answered by the captain of the "Racer", who told him his crew had called to tell him that a large red ball of light had just missed the spars when it passed over.

       Crew member William Nickerson, aboard the "Which Way In" called it a frightening experience. Capt. Atwood said the heat was intense and he expected the boat to be burned before it passed.                                                                                                                    

This reference: News clip from “The Coast Guard”, dated May 9, 1968.

The following is from an e-mail by Researcher Donald Ledger regarding the date:    

The actual date of the event was May 4, 1968.

"The Coast Guard" was a weekly paper that was pressed late on Wednesday evening and on the stands in Shelburn Town and the county, on Thursday May 9. The text states the sighting was on “Saturday, evening” and the Saturday prior to the 9th was the 4th.-DL-        

Note: Although the following UFOCAT items have different Times for their sighting and different names for the island, both have the same date and witnesses’ name!-CF-   

UFOCAT PRN – 90160 [Cape Sable Island]

UFOCAT URN – 90160 The APRO Bulletin, July/August 1968, p. 4       

UFOCAT PRN – 48101 [Seal Island]

UFOCAT URN – 48101 NICAP Investigation Files         


Note proximity of “Clark’s Harbour” to “Shag Harbour”

North America – Canada, Nova Scotia

Clark’s Harbour            Latitude 43-27-00 N, Longitude 65-38-00 W (D-M-S)

Cape Sable Island       Latitude 43-28-00 N, Longitude 65-36-00 W [PRN 48101]

Reference: http://geonames.nrcan.gc.ca/index_e.php           

Seal Island                   Latitude 43-24 N, Longitude 66-01 W (D-M) [PRN 90160]

Brown's Bank               Latitude 42-45 N, Longitude 66-00 W

Reference: Reference: Canada Gazetteer, Prepared in the Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., November 1953         

UFO Location (UFOCAT) Latitude 43.17 N, Longitude 65.67 W (D.%) [PRN 90160 – Seal Island]

From Don Ledger:

       Clarke's Harbour is on Cape Sable Island was the home port of “Which Way In”. It is also about 6-7 miles by water to Shag Harbour. It was from Clark's Harbour that the Coast Guard Cutter [Lifeboat 101] came to the Sound the night of the Shag Harbour Incident.

       Brown's Bank is an underwater seamount like the Grand Banks. The actual location of the sighting then was over Brown's Bank about 1.5 hours steaming time [9 knots per hour] south of Seal Island. 

       Woodrow Atwood died about 10 years ago.

There is good news however. His son Clayton - now about 52-55 runs a boatbuilding shop in Shag Harbour [I've passed the thing a couple of dozen times over the years]. His wife says is he is down on the Government wharf and out of reach until later. He's probably there for the breeze. It's 35-36 C [about 97 F] here.          

       Clayton might have been crewing with his father back then or just out for the sail. I'm optimistic of getting some 38 year old information. Additionally I hope to find some crew of the Racer and I'm attempting to track down William Nickerson. Finding a William Nickerson in south western Nova Scotia is like trying to find a John Smith in New York City.

Always Shag Harbour. Always back to Shag Harbour.

ORIGINAL TEXT  06-25-2005 Tony Rullán

Wonder why it came to the attention of the Underwater Sound Laboratory?

ORIGINAL TEXT  06-25-2005 Jan Aldrich

Hi Don and all,

Pell just supplied the item to APRO. So the Underwater Lab connection is not there....However, it is interesting that Pell apparently is somewhere in the area up there. "Fleet Post Office" indicates that he is at a location outside the US....probably on an anti-sub assignment.      

ORIGINAL TEXT  06-25-2005 Don Ledger  

That's useful information, Jan. If it was "up there" it probably was at Canadian Forces Station Shelburne, NS [Government Point as it's known locally] the supposed RCN/USN Oceanographic base that was actually a US Navy SOSUS base. US Navy SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS). Pell might have been stationed there.


In 1968 the Canadian Forces would have been supplying only support facilities and security at CFS, Shelburne and would not be actively involved in the daily gathering of underwater data/intelligence until the early 70s. The base became known for what it was in 1986 due to a scandal involving 6 lesbian operators. The base moved to the naval yards at Stadacona, Halifax in 1994-95 and is now called Trinity.

US spy Johnny Walker effectively canceled the advantages of these bases over a period of 17 years by passing the daily encrypted codes for daily operations to the Soviets.       

ORIGINAL TEXT  06-25-2005 Tom DeMary

The address seems a bit odd, but since SOSUS was originally a classified operation, they might use some less obvious identifier. The zip code is no longer in use, according to a zip code locator site.     

The name, Underwater Sound Laboratory, was the name of a Harvard lab in the early to mid-'40s. The Navy merged it with a Columbia University group to form the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory (NUSL). The name was changed to Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC) in 1970. All three groups are famous, and fundamental to anti-submarine warfare research. My point is that there was no official U.S. Navy entity titled simply "Underwater Sound Laboratory" after 1945.      

Additionally, there was no famous acoustician named R.H. Pell, so far I have been able to determine. Any such group would have civilians on staff, as well as transient military personnel. That the Pell name is not famous means nothing, of course. One presumes that he was an APRO member, working at some Navy project, and merely forwarded the clipping to APRO, using his FPO address, which was his current return address.        


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