This is a true account of an incident that occurred early in my military career that I thought someone might enjoy.
It was the summer of 2000 and I was just a non-rate stationed on a 110’ Coast Guard Cutter out of Key West.
We had enjoyed three days of calm weather and the seas where glassy smooth. Rare nights like this are when smugglers like to make a run and we where sitting as a darkened ship on a known drug rout, and awesome fishing spot, due to a massive drop off underneath us. We had our radars set to max, our ears wide open and our mouths clamped shut. Sound carries like crazy out there and sometimes you can hear the engines of a go-fast screaming before radar even picks them up. But tonight was dead. No activity at all.
I was coming onto bridge watch and our J.O.D. was checking the equipment for a pass-down, but when he got to the radar he gave a little “wtf” under his breath. The oncoming O.O.D. came over to see what was up, said the same thing then called our C.O. on the sound powered phone. We heard him say, “Hay Crap, we have two contacts moving fast coming straight at us about 40 knots out.” So we think we are about to see some action and everyone starts getting amped up when we hear him give the speed. “400 Knots and holding steady.” At this point, we think it’s just a radar anomaly or some “running rabbits” radar type echo. But these two staggered contacts stayed on the scope, and their signal just got stronger. Whatever it was was about the size of a cargo ship moving about 450 mph and it wasn’t even leaving a wake. (You can see a wake on radar especially on a calm night.)
After hearing this, the C.O. is on deck in his bath robe about 30 seconds later just staring at the radar and everyone is just perplexed trying to get a look in over his shoulder. So he sends us all out onto the bridge wing with Night Vision Goggles and has us all looking out for these things. Every few seconds he is counting down the the range and right when they get to 8 miles out they simply drop off the radar. Boom. Just gone.
Now, both of us non-rates get sent down to the bow of the ship and were told to listen for anything, see if we can hear anything or see anything or whatever. So we listen and it’s so quiet that all we can hear is the blood pounding in our ears. Then after not even a minute of vigilance we see something. Two lights under water moving fast. Coming directly at us. If we had blinked we would have missed them. In just a moment they had past directly under our bow and were gone.
The best description I can give would be… like two train lights moving slightly staggered not too deep under crystal clear water. Maybe 40 or 50 feet down. The leading vessel was slightly silhouetted by the trailing vessel and the brief impression I got of it was like the engine car of a train. Just way larger. It was over so fast I really never got a look so I can’t say much more than that about them.
My fellow look-out and I exchanged a shocked look at each other and he asked me if I had just seen it too. We talked excitedly about it for a second and ran back up to report our findings. After we made it to the bridge and started telling the C.O. what we had seen, the Quarter Master shut us up saying they had popped back up on radar. Sure enough, 8 miles out, there they where. Still moving staggered at 400 knots. We watched them disappear off radar at about 40 plus miles in silence. All of us just holding our positions until they passed out of range.
Then the old man asked us what we saw. We told him and after a minute of silence he just said. “Weird… Radar glitch it is.” Then sighed and went back to bed. After he wished us a good watch and went below deck the C.O.B. (Most senior Chief Of the Boat) pulled us up to the flying bridge for a talk. He basically told us that there are lots of weird things out here and that this is not the first time he had heard about “under water oddity’s” from sailers, but it was the first he had ever been a part of. He didn’t say we shouldn’t tell anyone but he made it pretty clear most people wouldn’t believe us if we did.
That was it. The next night was just as calm and we ended up stopping a drug smuggler with nearly a ton of product on board and we all just sort of put the incident behind us and moved on with our normal lives.
All I can say after two decades of experience in the military, is that in the middle of the ocean on a clear night and with a good set of NVG’s you can see little zippy things in the sky, just about every night if you have some patience. In my years of sea-time I’ve seen lots of odd thing,s but that night will always stand out in my memories.
Submitted by Randy Malone
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