RussiaToday.com reported last week that the Russian Navy has released records of its warships and subs that -- officially speaking -- had close encounters with UFOs. It seems that alien visitors from advanced civilizations really like the water! Not surprisingly, one hotbed of this activity was near the Bermuda Triangle. Retired submariner RADM Yury Beketov described unexplainable instrument malfunctions and interference on a sub he commanded, and underwater objects detected that moved at speeds of 230 knots. The declassified records, which go back to the days of the USSR, also detail an incident during a nuclear sub's "combat mission" in the Pacific Ocean. It was chased by six unknown underwater objects (UUOs, instead of UFOs?) which it could not elude. The captain ordered his submarine to surface. The objects continued to follow, then were seen to take off into the air and departed the scene.
I'm a fan of the idea of alien civilizations and flying saucers; scientific arguments make it seem likely that intelligent life evolved elsewhere in the universe -- even the Vatican says it could all be part of God's Plan. But in any specific such situation, it pays to begin as a skeptic.
One explanation for the Bermuda Triangle's infamous effects is recurring gas seeps, perhaps solidified methane deposits rising suddenly up from the ocean floor as gas, breaking into highly energetic clouds of bubbles, and reducing ocean buoyancy near the surface or creating freak local weather disruptions. This could account for the mysterious losses of surface ships and aircraft over the years, and it would also account for what RADM Beketov describes. Any undersea ecounter at 230 knots is by definition a very fleeting, high-bearing-rate contact. Faced with a rising methane or natural gas bubble cloud, a sub's passive and active sonars could very well seem to go haywire, yet would actually be giving real data on the behavior of the rapidly rising cloud. There wouldn't be much time to interpret what was happening before the bubbles reached the surface and dissipated.
I do not doubt for a moment that Russian/Soviet submariners are as fully professional and courageous as their American and other international counterparts. But during the Cold War the Kremlin did embrace paranormal phenomena to a degree not seen in Western government-sponsored activity; such concepts were perhaps more compatible with atheistic and dialectical Communism than with the West's Judeo-Christian beliefs. Some of this surely dates back to the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany. The Nazis were celebrated practitioners of the occult who mythologized that the Aryan Race was sired by ancient alien astronauts, and the Soviets captured some of these R&D records at the end of the war. Remember also that the CIA in the '90s continued doing practical defense and intelligence work on remote viewing, a form of ESP, as part of the now-defunct Star Gate project, cancelled by the Bush Administration after President Clinton left office.
More than one retired U.S. Navy submariner has told me in private of a possible additional reason why Germany, and then the USSR, became so interested in exotic phenomena during WWII -- and thereafter. Supposedly, it all comes from Allied efforts to disguise the existence of the code-breaking of German Enigma messages and conceal Allied successes with escort warships direction finding against microburst U-boat radio transmissions. Any captured anti-submarine warfare platform crewmen were to tell their German interrogators that Allied ships and subs now carried gifted mediums who used ESP to detect German subs! This got the Germans really turned on, and henceforth the Soviets, neither of whom realized it was all just a subterfuge. So the story goes.
Consider the Soviet nuclear sub that got chased by the six UUOs on its combat mission in the Pacific. This seems harder to explain from start to finish via any particular natural ocean phenomenon or equipment malfunction. It does sound consistent with many terrestrial UFO sightings: multiple objects moving together at high speed, sometimes following vehicles along roads, eventually zooming away into the sky. The fact that her skipper would even think of surfacing does amplify the seriousness with which he responded to the very weird undersea chase. Maybe UFOs really do exist, and they really do like the water? The premise of sci fi stories like Michael Crichton's "Sphere" might have some real basis after all.
Have American submariners also had close encounters with unidentified underwater objects? The Silent Service isn't saying. But then, after all, the UFO investigations of Operation Blue Book were done by the U.S. Air Force, not the U.S. Navy.
-- Joe Buff