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  • Writer's pictureJohn Wick

Nightmarish Encounters By The US Navy

The Navy of the United States unarguably possesses the largest and most powerful fleet of ocean-going vessels on the planet. In the many years passed since it was founded, the brave men and women serving within this Navy have been exposed to many incidents of inexplicable and creepy nature. In this post, we examine three such occurrences.

Formation Of The Continental Navy

In June of 1775, following the outbreak of the American Revolution, legislation was passed calling for the arming of civilian ships and merchantman in the war against Great Britain. It soon became clear, however, that this measure along with the ongoing cooperation of French naval forces would not be sufficient to break the vice-like grip, which the Empire held over the seas surrounding the continent. The Royal Navy was a vital component of the British forces in the colonies, without it the King's armies would be starved of men and resources; as well as the ability to bombard coastal targets.

Recognizing the importance that control over these waters represented, the colonies funded the construction of 13 frigates, specifically designed for war. This new military force was named The Continental Navy and would go on to fight against the British with both courage and distinction. The experience and skill which these sailors would gain over the next 10 years would become integral to the future of an independent America. But the price of this knowledge was great, with more than 80% of her ships being sent to the bottom of the sea before the war's end. It would not be for nearly another decade, in response to repeated attacks on American merchant ships by Barbary pirates, that the US Congress enacted new legislation.

The Naval Act of 1794 provided funding for six new frigates; the idea of a United States Navy had finally been realized and there would be few times in its future where it would not find itself actively engaged in conflict with America's enemies. Following the brief campaign against her former ally, France, the US Navy would be employed in further anti-piracy activities and attempts to end the African slave trade, before playing a role in further conflicts with Great Britain and Mexico.

US Naval forces proved essential to the allied victories in both World Wars, and they have continued to maintain global security since the end of the 1940s. During the two centuries it has been in existence, it has deployed thousands of ships and aircraft to location spanning the entirety of the globe. Its sailors have said their country on every continent, facing a broad range of enemies in battle and in more recent times, the accounts and written records of her commanders have caused commentators to ask probing questions regarding the origins of some of these opponents.

In February 1945, at the height of the battle for Iwo Jima, elements of the American 5th Marine Division found themselves pinned down by a superior Japanese force. Despite a murderous hail of enemy gunfire, a lone marine named Tony Stein performed repeated acts of courage. These included helping wounded colleagues to safety and braving enemy artillery in order to obtain ammunition for the rest of his platoon.

The USS Stein

During the course of the battle, Stein carried out a number of single-handed attacks on the enemy's defensive positions, drawing fire away from the rest of his unit and blowing up concrete pillboxes in the process. Ten days later, he was killed by a sniper and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1970, as a further tribute to the deceased hero, the US Navy named their latest warship 'the USS Stein'. This Knox-Class destroyer was initially assigned to the US 7th Fleet and spent the first few years of her military service patrolling Far Eastern Waters. In April of 1978, she was ordered to conduct a series of drills off the coast of South America, an itinerary which also included scheduled visits to a number of different parts whilst in the region.

Strange Encounter of the Crew Members

One evening, the crew were going about their duties when the entire vessel was catastrophically shaken by a sudden and unexpected impact. Sailors were hurled from their feet, several sustaining injuries, after violently colliding with their counterparts or the ship's bulkheads. As shocked crew members rallied to their stations, the Stein's commanding officer made his way to the control room to find out what had occurred.

He found the bridge crew struggling to reinitiate the ship's electrical systems, several of which had been knocked offline by the incident. It gradually became evident that the vessel had collided with a large underwater object, one which had failed to register on its monitoring systems. A check of the regional chance confirmed there was no existing anomalies situated anywhere on the seabed, only adding to the mystery. Assuming that the culprit was either a submarine or submerged shipwreck, the commander ordered sailors up onto the deck with searchlights, looking for wreckage or bodies in the water. Nothing was seen and when the ship's technicians reported that they were unable to restart the sonar system, the decision was made to return to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in Los Angeles to rectify the issue.

Once the ship had been dry-docked, repair crews fanned out across her hull, documenting any visible damage. This work was almost immediately brought to a halt, when it was discovered that approximately 10% of the Stein's sonar dome was missing, and what remained was completely inoperable.

All along the exterior of the sensor housing, deep lacerations and slashes were visible, all of varying length and depth. As the technician slowly unfastened the couplings around the device, several objects fell from it, clattering onto the ground below. Directing their torch beams downwards, the men were shocked to discover that the items lying at their feet with teeth and talons. In total, over 100 organic samples would be slowly extracted from the reinforced rubber surrounding the damaged sensor.

Amongst these were sharpened hooks, much like those found in the suction cups of giant squid, but some of them were over in inch in length, five times longer than those found on any creature documented by marine biologists. To this day, nobody can be sure exactly what collided with the destroyer, but with the damage that was caused, it must have been colossal in size. If it was indeed a squid and its dimensions were equivalent to the biological mass it left behind, it would be around a hundred and fifty feet in length. A sobering figure, given that this is three times longer than any similar creature previously encountered.

Strange Encounter in the Arctic

During the Cold War, the United States Navy actively sought to neutralize the threat posed by Russian submarines capable of launching nuclear missiles at the US Mainland. Key to the US Navy's strategy was a new type of submarine, a fast attack craft which was designated the Sturgeon Class. In total, 37 of these vessels would be deployed during the conflict, including the USS Trepang. The Trepang took two years to complete, finally launching in September of 1969.

Under the control of Commander Dean R. Sackett Junior, she was immediately deployed to the Arctic Ocean, with orders to conduct research and mapping in relation to the movements of the polar ice cap. She was also tasked with investigating the limitations that this hostile environment may hold in the commission of submarine warfare. For four weeks, the Trepang carried out weapons drills and scientific analysis of the region, before she was recalled to the holy Loch naval base in Scotland.

The submarine and the men who served aboard her would spend nearly three decades carrying out missions all around the globe, before she was eventually decommissioned in 1999. The USS Trepang should have remained just another anonymous component of America's Cold War Fleet, the finer details of her activities shrouded well away from the prying eyes of the general public. And this might have been the case were it not for the release of a series of images in 2015, purporting to have come from the submarine's periscope camera whilst she was on maneuvers in the Arctic sea.

In an article published by the investigative website Black Vault, it was alleged that during the Trepang's deployment in March of 1971, she had been in the vicinity of Jan Mayen Island when Commander Sackett had been called to the control room by the duty officer, John Klika. It was explained that, through the periscope, Klika had sighted an unknown aircraft operating nearby, one which he did not recognize and which was acting in an unusual manner.

Sackett had initially been skeptical of the report, attributing the description to the crewman's inexperience, but when he looked through the periscope, he was shocked by what he saw. Moving slowly through the skies not far, from his vessel, was an aircraft like nothing he'd ever seen. At the point he first sighted it, the craft had borne a passing resemblance to an airship from the 1930s, but as it carried on along its flight path, it had seemed to somehow shift and alter its form into various different shapes.

The commander had immediately placed his vessel on alert, continuing to monitor the UFO's progress and taking photographs as he did so. Suddenly it plunged into the ocean without warning, disappearing beneath the surface. Sackett ordered his sonar operators to try and get a fix on the craft, only to be told that it was not registering on their systems. As he watched on incredulously, the object then slowly rose back out of the water, before shooting off at an impossible speed.

Whilst critics have been quick to dismiss the account and alleged photographs as a hoax, the story resonates for two reasons. Firstly, the apparent capabilities of this mysterious craft bear more than a passing resemblance to similar objects which are engaged by F18s from the USS Nimitz off the coast of California in November of 2004. More worrying still, the story evokes memories of a secret Russian intelligence report, which alleges that mysterious flying craft successfully drove away a US Navy task force attempting to conduct research in the Antarctic in 1947. Is it possible that these encounters are linked, and that there is an unknown force resides in the polar regions?

The USS Forrestal's Ghosts

Commissioned in October of 1955, the USS Forrestal was the largest aircraft carrier of her day, dwarfing those that had participated in the chaotic Naval battles of World War II. She was the first example of the supercarrier, specifically designed for the operation of jet aircraft, a floating city which was home to over 5,000 sailors and flight crews.

The Forrestal was affectionately known to the men who served aboard her as the 'FID', a nickname derived from her motto, 'First In Defense'. During the summer of 1967, the carrier and her escorts were deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin, with orders to conduct sorties against targets in North Vietnam. This would be the scene of a tragedy which would haunt her entire service. On the morning of July the 29th, the carriers flight-deck was filled with planes, packed wing to wing, in various stages of maintenance to prepare them for the day's sorties.

One of the airplanes being worked on was an F4B Phantom, fully armed, positioned so that it faced directly into the center of the packed jets. At 1100 hours, a fault occurred whilst engineers were working on the aircraft's electrical systems. This unexpected surge in power caused one of the Phantom's rocket pods to malfunction, sending an 80-pound air-to-surface missile screaming into the center of the flight deck.

The Rocket hurtled approximately 100 feet, impacting the external fuel tank of an A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk's Pilot Lieutenant Commander John McCain, looked out of his cockpit in horror as a flood of aviation fuel sprayed out towards where the red-hot fragments of the unexploded missile laid. Moments later, the highly flammable fuel ignited, sending a wall of fire across the flight deck.

As men fell to the floor, consumed by the flames, the ordinance and aircraft around them began to explode. McCain was one of the many men that day who valiantly battled to save the lives of those around him, but despite their heroic efforts, 134 pilots, technicians and firefighters were killed. With 21 planes destroyed and having sustained catastrophic damage to her flight deck, the beleaguered carrier had little alternative than to head to the Philippines for emergency repairs.

Once the bodies of the dead had been repatriated in the vessel restored, the Forrestal was subsequently deployed to the warmer climes of the Mediterranean. Almost immediately, the crew began to report bizarre and inexplicable occurrences. Patches were observed opening and closing of their own accord, and lights would turn themselves on and off when there was nobody around. The Forrestal's internal Communication System became plagued by mysterious phone calls, where the sailors who answered could hear moaning or someone crying out in pain before the lights suddenly went dead. But nowhere was this activity more prevalent than in the galley, particularly in the vicinity of the ship's two massive food lockers.

Whilst en route to the Philippines, the remains of the dead had been temporarily stored in these two cavernous refrigerated containers. Now, the cooks and stewards who worked in the galley, began to report hearing desperate banging coming from inside them, only to find them empty when they were opened. As time passed, other witnesses heard moaning or screaming emanating from inside the storage units, again finding nobody inside when they were checked.

There were sightings of a shadowy figure dressed in the uniform of a Petty Officer, who would emerge from inside the lockers, inexplicably passing through the metal bulkheads unimpeded before disappearing. So numerous were the encounters with this apparition, that he earned himself a nickname 'George' and whilst he would occasionally distract the crew with his appearances, it was generally perceived that he was benign in nature.

When the Forrestal was eventually decommissioned in 1993, she was transported to the Philadelphia Naval Yard for dismantling. One evening, a Welder named Stan Shimborski was cutting away some of the fixtures in the galley when he heard a loud metallic clanging noise coming from the opposite side of a nearby bulkhead. At first, the dockyard worker attempted to ignore the sound, but eventually its repetitive and irritating nature prompted him to investigate.

When he walked round the compartment where the commotion was coming from, the clanging ceased, and he found the room deserted. Shrugging off the incident, he turned to head back to his tools, only to find his way blocked by a figure standing a few feet down the corridor. The man was dressed in the uniform of a naval officer and slowly began to turn when challenged by the welder. To his horror, Shimborski saw that the officer was severely burned, the front of his uniform hanging in tatters from his charred torso, and his facial features ravaged by severe burns. An overpowering smell of burnt flesh filled the narrow passageway, prompting the worker to drop to his knees and retch. When he looked up a short time later, the odor was gone and so was the mysterious figure.


Whilst the crew of the USS Stein stuck to the official story that their ship had collided with a submerged submarine; no other vessels were reported damaged or missing in that region at the time and it is difficult to argue with the findings of marine biologists who studied the samples.

Similarly, although the images taken from the Periscope of the USS Trepang are intriguing, the crew have remained steadfastly silent regarding their validity. It is possible that these photographs are nothing more than a hoax, but analysis confirms that they have not been doctored in any way, so perhaps there is more to this story than the Navy is willing to admit. Finally, despite the stories from the Forrestal being completely anecdotal, the fact that they were related by military personnel does lend extra weight to them.

That said, serving on a ship where many people died in the tragic accident may have foreshadowed such an assignment. Perhaps, the knocking sounds which were heard had a rational explanation, but were viewed as paranormal due to the ship's history. It is more difficult, however, to explain the other phenomena that was experienced. When all is said and done, we're sure that these occurrences are all in a day's work for one of the finest Navies the world has ever known and with that in mind, we only hope to honor the brave men and women who risk their lives in the pursuit of global security.


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