posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 03:03 PM
I'm sure I have recounted this story before on here but I'll tell it again as it is a classic case of USO activity being tracked by Radar.
For 14 years I was in the Navy, initially serving as a RADAR operator. Around 1995 I was on board a Navy destroyer operating in the atlantic ocean on
live missile firing excerises. During these events I was working as the surface picture supervisor but due to the nature of the exercise we had a full
compliment closed up in the operations room. This meant that (unusually for night time watches during peace time) we had a full ops room gunnery team
on watch manning the tracking RADARs that have the capability of giving height readings (important later on in the story). However the Sonar team was
not closed up as it was not an ASW exercise and at that time no firings were underway.
It was either a middle or a morning watch (00:00 - 04:00, 04:00 - 08:00) I can't remember which but it is important to note that it was dark outside
and there was heavy cloud cover obscuring the moon. Now when I say dark, I don't mean dark like it gets in the city. I mean so dark that you can't
see your hand in front of your face. On a ship at sea at night, all lights are turned off except for navigational lights. On the bridge it is dark
with only red lighting being used to light the charts and instrument displays (red light does not destroy the all important night vision). I am
telling you this so that you understand that anything on the water or in the air that was not lit would be virtually invisible to the bridge crew.
Any way I was on the surface plot when sudenly I get a contact about five miles from the ship slightly to port. It came out of nowhere and so I
quickly scaled down the Radar in order to get a good look and put a track on it. I called the Bridge and warned the Officer of the watch of the
contact and he immediatly began to turn to port and ordered the bridge crew onto the bridge wings (outdoors) to look for whatever it is in the water.
As soon as the ship begins to turn the contact begins to move towards the ship and then begins to circle the vessel at less than one mile. at this
point it was still on the surface radar and the only thing that I can think of is it being a helicopter. I checked for transponder response but there
was nothing. The officer of the watch then calls to say that the looks out can see or hear nothing but that he has it on his raw radar display. He
straightens the ship up and then the weirdest thing happens. The contact that had been circling us at less than 60 mph went from less than one mile in
to us to thirty miles away leaving a streak of light across my display and a radar track floating uselessly away. Due to the computer losing the track
I couldn't track its speed but I was fast enough to leave that trail on the RADAR display. I called the Officer of the watch and was in the process
of reporting this to him when it came racing back in, circled the ship once and then flew back out again before returning and repeating the pattern a
few more times. Whilst I was discussing the likely hood of it being a helicopter with the bridge team my assistant managed to keep a manual track of
it, reporting its speed as fluctuating between 120 mph on its circuit of the ship and 500 mph on its outwards and inwards leg. The wierd thing was
that it wasnt gradually slowing down at its furthest point from the ship, it was literally coming to a dead stop before reversing direction. Now that
spped may not seem fast but remember that this was a surface RADAR and that what ever this thing was it was low and it was dark.
The Bridge was still reporting nothing visual or audible but they could see the same as me on their raw RADAR. I now began transmitting on radio
frequencies requesting the aircraft in position (lat and long) to turn on its navigational lights or squawk (turn on transponder) and the bridge crew
did the same however we got no reply. (continued)