There have been plenty of UFO cases and reports from the skies above our heads, but this seems to be far from the end of such unearthly phenomena. One area of supposed alien phenomena that doesn't seem to get as much attention is that of strange things beneath the waters of our world. Known as USOs, meaning "Unidentified Submerged Objects," or also "Unidentified Submersible Objects," these are those fleetingly glimpsed "underwater UFOs" which are seen roaming about and entering and exiting oceans or lakes to create just as much awe and wonder as their airborne brethren. Here we will look at a selection or truly strange cases of unidentified submarine craft zipping about and inspiring wonder and debate.
Some earlier reports of USOs were mentioned in the book Unexplained!, by Jerome Clark, the earliest coming from all the way back in 1924, before the idea of UFOs was even really a thing. On July 1 of that year, pilot D.P. Lott and a photographer by the name of R.A. Smith were flying a small aircraft over the Hudson River, New York, when they saw below them two enormous mysterious objects in the water, each one estimated as being around 250 feet in length and travelling parallel to each other through the waves. The objects were described as being cylindrical in shape and with pointed ends, both leaving an “arrow-shaped wake” in their paths as they lumbered through. After some period of observation, the two massive objects submerged out of sight. It would later turn out that the Navy had no submarines scheduled to be in the area, and even if they did, these things were much larger than any known submarine of the era except for the very newest models. Smith was actually able to take a photograph of the objects, although since their altitude was around 5,000 feet it is difficult to know just what it shows. The sighting remains unexplained.
In 1945 we have the case of the U.S. Army transport Delanof, which was off the coast of Alaska when an immense round object about 200 feet in diameter allegedly ominously emerged from the sea to loom over the water. It then purportedly turned to face the ship, then circled silently around them a few times as if examining them, before flying off out of sight. In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl was on his vessel in the South Pacific, capturing dolphins somewhere between South America and the Polynesian islands, and he and his crew saw “the shine of phosphorescent eyes drifting on the surface” several nights in a row. No one could figure it out, then one night, things would get stranger, of which he would say:
On one single occasion, we saw the sea boil and bubble while something like a big wheel came up and rotated in the air, while of our dolphins tried to escape by hurling themselves desperately through space.
The object then hovered a while before disappearing into the murky sea once again. In 1954 there is a report from the crew of the Dutch ship the Groote Beer, who observed a “flat, moon-shaped object” rise from beneath the grey waves near Long Island, New York. Captain Jan P. Boshoff would describe it as being gray, metallic, and having a ring of lights along its edge. It then flew off out of sight. Curiously, at around the same time, a strange sight was allegedly seen by the Honduran freighter Aliki P., which reported it as a “ball of fire moving in and out of the water without being extinguished," trailing white smoke and moving in erratic course. It is unknown if this could have been the same object witnessed by the Groote Beer.
The following year, in 1955, a couple by the name of the Bordes were out rowing at the Titicus Reservoir in Westchester County, New York, at around 1:30 a.m. when a rose-colored, luminous sphere rose from the water just a few feet from their boat and floated off towards shore, after which it rose sharply and then disappeared down into the water with a loud splash. It was eerie enough that the couple decided to call it a night and head back to shore. As they rowed along, eyes glued to the placid surface of the lake, they saw around 200 yards away two “parallel lights, wavy in shape but rigid, thirty feet in length” moving under the surface. Above these shapes was a “round light of lesser brilliance,” which was over the water but not hovering, rather seemingly attached to a larger body beneath, which could be seen as a “dim grey shape against the blackness.” When the couple reached the shore, they saw that the thing was still out there, but when they returned some time later it was gone. They would insist it was not another boat out there with them.
From the 1960s we have a strange case that was mentioned in the book Invisible Residents, by Ivan Sanderson. The incident allegedly happened in 1963 off the coast of Puerto Rico, where the U.S. Navy was at the time conducting an anti-submarine warfare exercise. The command ship at the time was the anti-submarine warfare carrier USS Wasp, along with a fleet of five smaller vessels, mostly destroyers, and an unknown number of submarines below. It began when one of the sonar stations on one of the destroyers noticed that one of the submarines had broken formation and appeared to be pursuing a smaller, fast-moving unidentified object. This smaller object was reported as moving in excess of 150 knots, and would apparently lurk about the area for several days, zipping about underwater and tracked by both Naval ships and anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft. The mysterious object was reported as doing maneuvers and travelling at speeds far beyond any known submarine technology, as well as doing sudden, rapid dives to depths of up to 27,000 feet. Apparently visual confirmation was never made, so it is difficult to tell what this thing could have been.
In August of 1965 we have the case of the Soviet steamship Raduga, which was doing maneuvers in the Red Sea when they had a rather bizarre encounter. It was reported that the crew observed a “fiery sphere” estimated as 60 meters in diameter spectacularly shoot out from underwater to hover over the waves for a time. It was noted that its exit from the water had caused a huge pillar of water to erupt forth with it. After a few minutes of hovering there motionlessly, the craft then smashed down into the water, leaving turbulence and roiling waves. Also in the 1960s was a report from a Marine at Guantanamo Bay, who would claim that personnel at the base would routinely see strange lights both in the sky and underwater, sometimes measuring up to 100 feet in length, but that they were always told not to discuss it. Years later, he would say of his experiences:
When I stood guard duty on the south side of the base, I witnessed on many, many nights UFOs landing and taking off out of the ocean. There were large blue lights moving around after their landing in the ocean and then slowly dimming down as they obviously descended deeper.
Yet another case from the files of the National UFO Recording Center (NUFORC) supposedly happened in 1964 at Laguna Beach, California. The witness claims to have gone to take a walk on the beach when he had a very weird experience. He explains what happened:
A long wooden stair case led down the cliffs to the beach and the waves appeared to be in the cliffs' shadow from Highway 1 headlights. I saw a series of lights glowing from behind the waves about 5 feet apart and 8 inches in diameter. It/they gave the appearance of portholes on the side of a submersible. I have no explanation. When I interviewed a CA lighthouse keeper on the radio (his station was becoming automated - and you had to walk through a tunnel to reach it) and asked him if in all of his years of watching the surf he had seen anything strange - he reported seeing the same thing -- with no idea what it could be.
From the 1970s there was an account given by an Admiral V.A. Domislovsky, chief of the Pacific Fleet’s Intelligence Department of the Soviet Navy. He would report that he had witnessed a gigantic cylindrical object around 800-900 meters long, which hovered over the water and emitted swarms of smaller flying objects “like bees from a beehive.” These smaller objects were then claimed to have shot down into the water to disappear for a time, before flying back out and back into the larger “mothership.” This happened several times, after which the colossal ship loaded up all of the smaller craft and flew off at terrific speed.
In more recent decades there have been various other reports of USOs as well. From the files of NUFORC is one from February of 2007, reported by a witness who says that at the time she had been aboard a cruise ship Dawn Princess, heading back to San Francisco from a cruise of the Mexican Riviera. As they passed Half Moon Bay, she claims to have had a very otherworldly experience, of which she says:
I was coughing up a storm at 2 A.M., and my husband went to find a hot lemonade. I was awake anyway, so I pulled back the curtains and stood in the window to watch the ship’s churning water – mesmerizing! After about 5 minutes, three softly glowing objects came into view – three uniform, nearly spherical objects, evenly spaced in a line parallel to the ship’s hull and hovering just above the water surface. Based on the appearance of dolphins from the window, and of people seen standing on piers, I’d say that these spheres were somewhat larger – maybe 12-15’ high. Perfectly smooth, and with a pale bluish-white glow. They appeared to stay in one place while the ship moved past them. They were hovering, but didn’t disturb the water below them. Just as they went out of my sight, the left one toward the bow splashed down into the water and disappeared.
Of course, I hadn’t thought to tear myself away from the window to get the cell phone or camera (both in the safe, and of doubtful use through a window at night…). And, of course, three more glowing spheres, hovering in a straight line along the edge of the wake, came past the window 2 minutes later! 4-5 minutes after that, two more spheres were seen, but farther away from the ship. The first and second groups had been located just where the ship’s wake or foam line ends. The last group was about twice as far away. The “bow-ward” of these last two also dropped down into the water and disappeared. I was still standing at the window, in amazement, when my husband came back with lemon tea. I told him about the spheres, and we watched for a while, but no more sightings.
Another report from NUFORC happened as recently as 2017. In March of that year, a group of unnamed witnesses were aboard an oil rig offshore supply ship (OSV) in the Gulf of Mexico, about 80 miles southeast of New Orleans, when they saw something very bizarre indeed. They claim that an immense, oval-shaped object estimated as being more than five times bigger than the 240-foot ship they were on rose up out of the ocean, yet oddly appeared to not be wet. The massive object was completely silent, and rose to hover around 30 feet over the waves before rapidly ascending out of sight at a 30-degree angle.
That very same year we have a report from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) which comes from Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River near Little Suamico, in Wisconsin. The unnamed witness claims that on November 18, 2017, he was at the lake when he observed a triangular-shaped UFO measuring around 100 to 150 feet in diameter emerge from the water. Susan Birttnen, of Wisconsin MUFON, would say of the report:
He reports they witnessed a triangular-shaped object fly out of the water of Green Bay, traveling at approximately 35 knots. It was so close that they could hear a muffled jet sound. As it came out of the water it turned on its side as it traveled west and gained elevation. The color was dark and it had blue flashing lights. The elevation was at 500 feet and the distance was less than 1,000 feet. The side of the triangle was between 100 to 150 feet. Based on the evidence and the data provided by the witness, I conclude that this case is in the unknown category.
What was this thing? Who knows? Lastly, we have our most recent report yet, logged in 2021 from the skies over Leeward, Oahu, in Hawaii. In January of that year, numerous witnesses began calling 911 to report seeing a glowing blue oblong mass and a smaller white light darting about the sky, before the blue one went crashing into the water below. One witness only known as Moriah would tell Hawaii News Now of her own sighting of the spectacle playing out in the sky:
I look up and then I was like oh s***! I started calling my husband and them because they were all in the garage. I was like hey. Come look up there. See if you see what I see. They all said yea! I don’t know what it was. This one was going so fast. It went to land in the water. Whatever it is. We called 911. For have like one cop or somebody for come out and come check em out. My husband went look up and he seen the white one coming. The white one was smaller. Was coming in the same direction as the blue one.
After the blue one had gone into the sea, the smaller white one then apparently shot off over the mountain to disappear. Numerous people in the area reported the same thing to police, with several people even taking video footage of it all. In the meantime, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration insisted that there had been no aircraft incident or accident in the area of the sightings, and no reports of a missing airplane. All of these reports leave us with some rather perplexing mysteries. What is there, if anything, roaming about under the waves of our seas and lakes? What do they want and why are they hiding beneath the waves? There is no way to know the answers, but reports of USOs keep coming in, and it is a curious subspecies of UFO report that perhaps deserves more attention than it has received.