In July of 2019, a truly bizarre series of events unfolded around California’s Channel Islands. Over a number of days, groups of unidentified aircraft, which the U.S. Navy simply refers to as ‘drones’ or 'UAVs,' pursued that service's vessels, prompting a high-level investigation.
During the evening encounters, as many as six aircraft were reported swarming around the ships at once. The drones were described as flying for prolonged periods in low-visibility conditions, and performing brazen maneuvers over the Navy warships near a sensitive military training range less than 100 miles off Los Angeles. The ensuing investigation included elements of the Navy, Coast Guard, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The incidents received major attention, including from the Chief of Naval Operations—the apex of the Navy's chain of command.
This article in The Drive (based on an earlier article in The Parallax blog) uses declassified emails and the USS Kidd's deck log (obtained via FOIA) to make the case that the USS KIdd was swarmed by drones on multiple nights (Nights of July 14, 15, and early AM, July 25 and 30, 2019.)
Given the (mostly) consistent identification of the things as "UAVs" or "Drones", it would seem reasonable to assume they were actually drones, but I don't think we can totally rule anything out. One account (or rather, one brief note) says:
"White light identified hovering over ship's flight deck" - which could be a drone. But I'd also not rule out a misidentification of some other light, even Venus. We have no real context for these notes, so it's difficult to rule things out.
The Drive notes:
The log reflects that the drone managed to match the destroyer's speed with the craft moving at 16 knots in order to maintain a hovering position over the ship’s helicopter landing pad. To further complicate what was already a complex maneuver, the drone was operating in low visibility conditions (less than a nautical mile) and at night.
By this point, the encounter had lasted over 90 minutes—significantly longer than what commercially available drones can typically sustain.
The hovering over the deck isn't as complicated as it sounds, as many drones use cameras and/or sonar to maintain position over the "ground" in a strong wind. The deck being in motion makes no real difference to this.
The 90-minute duration is longer than most drones can do. But it's not clear if it's all the same drone, or even if it's all drones.
I feel there's a variety of explanations we should consider, although some will no doubt be mocked as ridiculous. Broadly breaking it down:
- Conventional Drones, foreign or domestic.
- From a nearby ship
- From the Kidd or other Navy ship (maybe test of anti-drone tech)
- From a sub
- From a plane
- Ordinary phenomena, misidentified
- Lights on distant planes
- Venus and other heavenly bodies
- Birds, possibly lit by searchlights
- St Elmo's fire
- On-board lights
- Advanced Human Technology
- Super long-range conventional drones
- Unconventional lift/thrust technology (anti-gravity, massless reaction)
- Plasma "holograms" or other projected images
- Non-Human Technology
- Something else (no list of possibilities is complete)
- A combination of some of the above
A lot of possibilities, and very little information. But certainly an interesting case.
Related discussion: https://www.metabunk.org/threads/long-distance-drones-maybe-foreign-as-possible-ufos.11678/