What U.S. Submariners Actually Say About Detection Of So-Called Unidentified Submerged Objects

Big claims abound about mysterious objects submariners detect below the waves, so we went straight to the source and what we found out was surprising.

byTyler Rogoway|
Sonar photo


There has been a spate of high-profile claims regarding U.S. Navy nuclear submarines detecting and even interacting with the underwater equivalent of Unidentified Flying Objects, referred to in UFO circles as USOs, or Unidentified Submerged Objects. Yet when it comes to the covert world of naval warfare below the waves, it is easy for laymen to misinterpret things that may seem very much alien to them, but are actually quite commonplace. The War Zone reached out some of its submariner contacts, all of which have many years of experience aboard U.S. Navy nuclear submarines, to see if detection of unidentified objects actually happens and what their thoughts were on the topic in general. 

We were surprised by what we heard. 

Eyewitness reports of USOs are nothing new. Reports of them go back many years and some from credible sources, but being detected by nuclear submarines packed with most sensitive listening equipment on the planet, which today is comprised of sonar arrays and computer systems costing hundreds of millions of dollars, is another story. 


On December 29th, 2018, our friend Danny Silva of the Thesilvarecord.com brought the following to our attention. Tom DeLonge, once the lead man for the rock group Blink 182 turned front man for To The Stars Academy, a flashy new hybrid entertainment-technology-research group that focuses on disclosure of information regarding UFOs, made the Instagram post below. In it he claims, without any evidence, that "a few years ago an unidentified craft was underwater and pinned against the North Atlantic coast by multiple nuclear attack submarines for over a week." 

Then a story that first made its rounds in 2017 hit social media again just last week. The supposed first-hand account of Astronomer and UFO researcher Marc D’Antonio describes a ride aboard a nuclear fast attack submarine in the North Atlantic and the sudden appearance of a very high-performance object on sonar. 

One version of the account reads: 

"Marc, who runs a special effects company called FX Models that undertakes Naval contracts, said: “As a thank you for doing some work for them Navy asked me if I wanted to go for a ride in a submarine so I said yes.

“Once we got under I was sitting in the sonar station and the sonar operator was sitting right next to me.

"Submarines are loud – people think they are very quiet and it’s true they are on the outside because the sound doesn’t get out. But inside you hear fans, noise - it’s a constant din on a sub.

“I was sitting there zoning out a little because I was sea sick and all of a sudden the sonar kid shouts 'fast mover, fast mover' and I’m jolted awake – thinking ‘What’s happening? Is it a torpedo?’

“The executive officer comes out and the operator shows him the path of the object and the officer says 'How fast is that going?'

“And the kid said 'several hundred knots'. I start to lean forward to listen in – and the officer said ‘Can you confirm it?’

“So he goes to another sonar machine and confirmed it wasn’t a machine anomaly - it was real. I thought ‘Wow that is incredible’.

“When the sonar guy said ‘What do I do with this?’ the officer said ‘log it and dog it’ - in other words log it and bury it.”

Four years later Marc said he was doing some more contract work for the Navy when he spoke to a senior naval figure about what he saw.

“I asked him ‘Can you tell me about the Fast Mover Programme?'" Marc explained.

“He looked at me and said 'Sorry Marc I can’t talk about that programme'.

“So he basically confirmed to me that the programme exists - he said everything without seeing anything.

“What that told me was that USOs are common – we even have a programme in place to classify and log and determine the speed of them and it goes into a vault.”

Marc made the claims at the Devil’s Tower UFO Rendezvous in Hulett, Wyoming – where UFO enthusiasts from around America met at the site of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind rock to discuss alien-related findings.

We talked with a number of sources during our investigation. What we learned is that yes, unexplained noises and even tracked contacts do pop-up on submarines' sonars, some of which seem to move at incredible speeds, but it is rare and the data is often inconclusive as to what was actually detected. But maybe most interesting, and peculiarly so, is that the Navy doesn't actually have a way to classify these strange sounds as unknown and tag them for further review.  

One of our contacts that was willing to go on the record is veteran sonar operator and instructor turned pro gamer 'Jive Turkey'—we did an in-depth (pardon the pun) piece on Jive recently which you can read here. After reviewing D’Antonio's account, Jive pointed out some issues with it:

"The article is full of errors and assumptions. There is not a "Fast Mover" program and we don't give 'rides' as favors."

I asked Jive if strange encounters do occur and how they are handled if so. He told me that they do, although they are rare and there is no way to really classify them as strange:

I don't know what they are...  We usually logged it as seismic or biologic. We were instructed that nothing is ever 'unknown.' 

That's the thing, it's so quick you can't measure the speed. In the examples I am thinking of, it is a detection that lasts a few seconds on the towed array. There is no way to measure the speed accurately because there isn't enough data...

I agree it's odd. There are a lot of odd things in the ocean. Mainly, submariners!


Another contact we talked to with extensive experience aboard nuclear submarines noted that the mission is so heavily focused on military objectives that strange sounds picked up by sonar don't carry the weight that many may think they would unless they seem like some sort of a threat or impediment to the mission or training goals. This source also noted that they were not aware of any way to even log this type of thing for special review. In fact, they noted that the system seems uniquely designed for just the opposite. 

Eric Moreno—another veteran submariner, @KingNeptune767 on Twitter, and keeper of the popular Subreddit r/submarines—also had some good information to share. Strange acoustic anomalies don't just pop up on U.S. Navy submarine sonars, but also sonars and hydrophones belonging to scientific institutions. Moreno mentioned the somewhat famous '52-hertz Whale' and pointed us to this video below as examples: 

Video thumbnail

As a torpedoman by training, he also mentioned very high-speed super-cavitating torpedo technology that various militaries around the globe are becoming increasingly interested in. The Soviet Union actually put one of these weapons, the VA-111 Shkval, into service. At max speed, these weapons can hit over 200mph. But just because they exist doesn't mean they are fired at or near American fast attack submarines, and especially boats that are on training sorties with visitors onboard. Also, they are not some totally mysterious anomaly to seasoned sonar operators. 

I even asked my sources if the strange contact D’Antonio's supposedly experienced being detected could have been something above the surface of the water, such as a maritime patrol aircraft. They said the speed would make that more plausible, but it shouldn't have been any sort of a mystery then. They also added they were aware of very high-speed targets on sonar that were never explained, but they have no idea where that information went, or where it didn't go for that matter.

The biggest takeaway here is that mysterious sounds do emanate from the deep and are heard by the most talented sonar operators in the world working the most advanced underwater listening equipment ever created. But the Navy seems to have made it all but impossible to classify these events for further review as sonar operators aren't allowed to 'not know' what something is. 


As for a quartet of American submarines pinning an impossible to identify craft down in the depths of the Atlantic, we are still waiting to see any evidence of anything like that occurring. It doesn't do the To The Stars Academy or DeLong any favors teasing such information in such an amateurish way either. This is unfortunate considering the high aims of To The Stars Academy and the impressive brain trust they have amassed. 

But that's a whole other story we will save for the not so distant future.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com