It’s one of the more bizarre mysteries to emerge in recent years: What were those unidentified, drone-like objects that swarmed U.S. Navy warships off the coast of California in the summer of 2019?
A FIOA request by The War Zone yielded some documents last month that shed some light on what happened on those July nights, which have been investigated at a “high level” by the Navy, Coast Guard and FBI. The drones that buzzed the ships as they were docked in the Channel Islands over the course of two nights were flying much further away, and for much longer, than the capability of most commercially available drones. It’s even been alleged by some observers that UFOs were responsible, although the drones more likely could have been from a foreign military.
Now, the Navy has addressed the situation.
According to The War Zone, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday, the U.S. Navy’s top officer, was asked about the 2019 drone incident at a roundtable of reporters.
When asked if the Navy had now identified any of the objects, Gilday said, “No, we have not.” Gilday went on to state, “I am aware of those sightings and as it’s been reported there have been other sightings by aviators in the air and by other ships not only of the United States, but other nations—and of course other elements within the U.S. joint force.”
“Those findings have been collected and they still are being analyzed,” he added, addressing reporter Jeff Schogol of Task & Purpose. “I don’t have anything new to report, Jeff, on what those findings have revealed thus far. But I will tell you we do have a well-established process in place across the joint force to collect that data and to get it to a separate repository for analysis.”
The War Zone speculated that “process” may have been a reference to the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), a recently established program led by the Navy to study unexplained aerial vehicles. The creation of the UAPTF has been seen in some quarters as a vindication of theories about UFOs. When Gilday was asked in the briefing if there’s any reason to believe the aircrafts off California were of “extraterrestrial” origin, he answered “no, I can’t speak to that—I have no indications at all of that.”
“The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security,” DoD said last year when the new task force was created.
Given the increasing use of drones by great and medium-sized military powers, eventually finding out who sent those drones and for what purpose is something the Navy needs to find out soon.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.