The year 2019 seems so long ago for most of us, but it probably seems like only yesterday for the US Navy after newly released documents show that the mysterious drones which harassed numerous Navy ships off the coast of Los Angeles in 2019 were far more prevalent that first thought … and the Pentagon still does not have an ‘official’ explanation for these unidentified aerial vehicles (UAVs). Are these more Tic Tac UFOs, Tic Tac decoys, enemy drones, secret U.S. drones or something else?
Before we look at the latest revelations, let’s review how the Navy got to this point. The bulk of the data comes from The War Zone/The Drive, the military news website which has been tracking, requesting and revealing internal documents on mysterious drones following multiple Navy ships on maneuvers. It first revealed in March 2021 that the USS Kidd, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, encountered a UAP near San Clemente Island on July 14, 2019, and deployed a “SNOOPIE (Ship Nautical Or Otherwise Photographic Interpretation and Exploitation)” team to investigate. The War Zone found that other ships also encountered the UAPs on July 15 and 16 -- the USS Russell, USS John Finn, the USS Paul Hamilton and the USS Rafael Peralta, which activated its own SNOOPIE team and reported a “white light identified hovering over” the ship’s flight deck for around 90 minutes. Logs of the other ships also reported sightings. The War Zone requested more information on the two-day encounter … and waited. This week, it finally received additional documents and they contained shocking new revelations.
“Newly released documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that the full scope of these drone incursions was greater than it initially appeared, and they persisted well after the Navy’s investigation was launched. Deck logs indicate that drone sightings continued throughout the month of July 2019 and included events where drone countermeasure teams were called into action. One notable event involved at least three ships observing multiple drones. Uncharacteristically for unclassified deck logs, the details on this event are almost entirely redacted.”
The logs show the USS Russell had encounters with the drones on July 17th and 20th. The USS Russell crew took anti-drone countermeasures that appeared to be unsuccessful – The War Zones explains that highly-directional radiofrequency jammers are designed to disrupt communications between drones and their operators, but are not effective against autonomous drones. The document also show that the Russell fired a 5-inch naval deck gun as a UAS (unmanned aerial system) countermeasure, but notes that these guns are not designed to hit targets that are small and slow-moving like these mysterious drones. Finally, they report that “ghostbusters” -- lower-end counter UAS devices that look similar to rifles – were fired. The War Zone points out that “ghostbusters” is a new term.
The logs show that at least three ships reported multiple drones following them and adjusting their speed and position whenever a ship would make an evasive maneuver. The ships also enforced enhanced “emissions control,” or EMCON, protocols designed to minimize their electronic profile.
Another engagement between the USS Russell and the mysterious drones took place on July 30th, 2019. A SNOOPIE team was activated, “ghostbusters” were used and a SCAT (Small Craft Action Team) was launched – these are machine gun operators that provide 360-degree coverage of the ship and are usually used in response to a small boat attack or low, slow flyers. The logs show that the nearby USS Bunker Hill made the same maneuvers. Perhaps the most interesting revelation is that unlike previous ones, the new documents were heavily redacted.
These new documents tell us that mysterious drones are a bigger problem for the US Navy (and the rest of the US military) than first thought. They tell us that counter-responses – including weapons – have been deployed with little success. They tell us that the Pentagon is probably hiding more information about them. What they DON’T tell us is what these drones are and who – or what – they belong to.
Kudos as always to the reporters at The War Zone and The Drive for their fine work.