KEY POINTS

  • Unidentified drones flew over U.S. Navy destroyers numerous times in July 2019
  • The drone flights indicated the possibility in a security breach
  • The drones had capabilities that exceeded those of commerically available ones

Unidentified drones swarmed U.S. Navy destroyers multiple times while they were by the coast off California in July 2019, but it still remains a mystery who was behind these flights which occurred under the cover of darkness, reports say.

According to The Drive, six drones started flying around the Navy destroyers in conditions where visibility wasn't good for a few days at a time. The drones flashed lights and prompted the crew onboard to take security precautions.

The Drive compiled most of the information from the Navy ships' logs they received by using a Freedom of Information Act request, along with the ship-tracking data that's available to the public.

These mysterious night-time drone incidents indicate that there may be a possible severe breach in security, NBC reported, adding that the Navy did not respond to a request to comment.

The drones started flying by the warships close to San Clemente Island, a place where sensitive military facilities are. On the island, there's an airfield, the only ship-to-shore live firing range of the Navy, and a training site for Navy SEALs.

Almost soon after the drone flights started occurring, intelligence officers and investigators in the FBI and the Navy started to inquire about the drones. Emails indicate that the drone flights were getting the attention of higher-ups and even managed to reach the office of the naval operations chief.

One theory is that the Navy may be responsible for launching the drones without alerting the crews of the destroyers, but it's unclear if that's what really happened.

The first sighting of the unidentified drones was recorded by the destroyer USS Kidd on the evening of July 14, 2019. The USS Russell and other destroyers reported drone activity again the next day. The flights were reported again on July 25 and July 30.

According to The Drive's report, the drones could stay in the air for more than an hour and a half, which is more than what off-the-shelf consumer drones are capable of. In one instance, the drones covered over a hundred nautical miles. The distance was determined by plotting the ship's location as it reported their sightings of the drones.

Ship logs indicated that the drones could be flying in tandem with a destroyer, which was traveling at 16 knots, in conditions with low visibility. There isn't a concrete description of what the drones looked like since the only physical description people gave was that they looked like lights in the sky.

Who was behind the drones remains unknown, but the only thing that is almost certain is that the Navy has enough data on the drone flights. 

According to Secretary of Defense, the Navy personnel aboard the destroyer Kidd may have been infected with COVID-19 during a counter-drug mission. The destroyer USS Kidd. Photo: Pixabay