Thursday, October 8, 2015

Underwater UFOs

You never know when and where corroborations will crop up.  This blog arises from claims made about sightings of unusual lights moving under water or UFOs as physical bodies emerging or diving into the oceans or lakes.  The stories are many, from Shag Harbor in the Northeast to the waters off the Southern California coast and around the world.  I have an in-family addition to share with those folks interested in such things---and also a cautionary about preserving such history.

In the early 2000s, during a fast-food lunch break with my brother Kurt, I brought up the topic of UFOs.  Documents (see previous blog) that I had come across in my archival work at the Clark County Museum called to mind his off-hand remark made decades before, that there were other “Bermuda Triangles” scattered around the oceans where weird stuff happens.  He briefly related two personal sightings, in 1956, in the Indian Ocean when he was in the Navy aboard the USS Merrimack AO-37, a Kennebec-class fleet oiler and one of several naval ships to have carried that historic Civil War name.

It was night.  Kurt and some fellow crew members were on deck when one of the sailors spotted a strange light in the water off the starboard side.  They witnessed a large, round, glowing object submerged at an unknown depth.  I asked if this could have been a school or cluster of bioluminescent sea life.  No, my brother was definite about this.  They all knew the difference.  This was a well defined circular object that did not change shape, and it continued to pace the ship for some miles.  Then the light simply blinked off.  No radar return had been registered before, during or after that incident.

Afterwards, during that passage across the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea, my brother was on the ship’s fantail with several other sailors. It was high daylight when a sudden bubbling appeared on the water’s surface at a distance of approximately a quarter mile ahead, so that was not a small disturbance.  Then bubbles churned into violent froth.  A large silvery orb erupted from the water and shot off at an angle into the sky and, moving at extreme velocity, quickly vanished from eyesight.  Radar tracking was not mentioned.

The former event sighted from the USS Merrimack uncannily echoes the description of a nighttime incident that took place on November 14, 1949, between the Strait of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean.  It is recorded in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings as Report # 63, “An Unexplained Phenomenon of the Sea,” by Cmdr. J. R. Bodler, a Merchant Marine officer who had served in World War II and then returned to the Merchant Marines.  It is accessible online.  The condensed version is that, on the date noted above, in calm seas, Bodler witnessed a large, luminous, circular object approach his ship from below the horizon level, underwater.  The object proved to be approximately 1,000 to 1,500 feet in diameter.  It passed silently under his vessel, casting light up against the hull, and appeared to be revolving spoke-like around a center hub in a timed, counterclockwise rotation.  It paused directly under the ship before slowly moving away.  He viewed the object until it was some miles away, at which time a second, slightly smaller object manifested on that same track, passing underneath his ship.  A half hour later, a third object appeared, detected when it was in much closer proximity.  It was smaller with a diameter of approximately 800 to 1,000 feet, and followed the others’ path.  No electromagnetic effects were noted.  References and coordinates are provided at the end of the online article. 

Then, in 1957, after his tour aboard the Merrimack, Kurt was reassigned to the radar picket ship, YAGR Searcher, in the North Atlantic.  (He once quipped that YAGR meant “You Ain’t Getting Relieved.”)  That former Liberty ship, loaded with electronics and radar, was part of the DEW Line system during the early Cold War period.  The Searcher described a repeating rectangle over the same coordinates, 150 miles wide by 250 miles long, exceedingly boring -- except for the occasional intriguing electronic blip.  During that TDY, he and other radar crew and officers witnessed several anomalous radar returns tracking objects  moving at extremely high speed (well exceeding 3,000mph) and performing erratic maneuvers that could not be attributed to known aircraft, missiles, or meteor incursions through the high atmosphere.

Of course, the Searcher incidents will ring familiar to any radar operator who has witnessed oddball, inexplicable returns on radar screens.  Certainly, they fit in with numerous similar reports of unusual radar trackings.  While not undersea phenomena, these unusual occurrences witnessed at sea in a military setting lend credence to significantly large and growing hardcopy, eyewitness and anecdotal reference bases. 

Here I want to point out that  credible eyewitness accounts and anecdotes should not be discounted as real evidence or discarded as unscientifically gathered observations.  For when compiled and examined under stringent criteria, they create data bases that reinforce a very strong hypothesis for actual phenomena behaving outside an established norm.  Just so, much science has grown from recognition of incident similarities---not to mention hunches, flights of the imagination or dreams, the DNA double helix and the benzene molecule being two well known examples.  And informant credibility must be factored in.  In my brother’s case, I knew him well enough to accept that his powers of observation and skeptical nature made him a believable source.

Looking back on that lunch, I have wished many times since that I had had the presence of mind to ask for more details from my brother before his death.  I have only a few notes from one short meeting to wrap this posting around.  Any other “Bermuda Triangle”-type occurrences alluded to by Kurt are lost to my lack of journalistic aggressiveness.  So, don’t let the opportunity slip by to query a possible source about an unusual occurrence that falls into the paranormal category. 

A final point is that important clues, like gold, are where you find them, in unexpected places and at unexpected times.  Be alert for them, but don’t interpret or interpolate what is not there.  Like bibliographies, with time, you learn which sources are reliable and which are not, and whether it is worth your time to keep reading.  The more of the latter, the more suspect the content.  But when unrelated similarities start adding up, pay attention.

[ For conspiracy buffs and accuracy, this particular Merrimack is listed as having been decommissioned in December 20, 1954.  However, in 1956, it was pulled out of mothballs for service prior to the Suez Crisis, ostensibly for crew training.  My brother, who was aboard during this time, told me that, besides fuel, the ship was hauling weapons and other war-related items.  It also picked up and delivered mysterious, unidentified individuals in civilian clothes at various ports.  That time is certain.  As an 8-year-old, I recall the night my family received a phone call from him to let us know that he was okay.  That day, October 31, the Egyptians had blown up a British ship (among others) to blockade the Canal.  The Merrimack had been ahead of that target and was able to sail on to the Red Sea.  The Suez Canal was closed until April 24, 1957.  Just a tidbit to whet the appetite. ]

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