For nearly 60 years, rumors have circulated of strange flying
objects emerging from the ocean off our coast and disappearing
in a fantastic flash of speed and light.
Sailors, fishermen, dockworkers, police officers, coastal
residents and others have reported eerie otherworldly ships
emerging from and submerging into local waters.
UFOs, it seems, have established an underwater base
somewhere in the deep, dark recesses between the Channel
Islands and the coastline between Long Beach and Santa
Despite a tendency to scoff at such conspiracies, I decided
to do a little investigating. You know, just to be sure.
To learn more, I contacted UFO researcher Preston Bennett
of Los Angeles, who appeared on the recent History Channel
special "Deep Sea UFOs."
Bennett reports more than 40 documented sightings off
SoCal's coast since 1947, including several in and around Long
"In these types of cases, UFOs are seen moving into and out
of the water, floating on the surface and also traveling
beneath the surface," Bennett said via e-mail. "Many of these
cases are well-verified, with witnesses including police
officers, lifeguards, military personnel and other
Intrigued, I contacted Lt. Chuck Engbring of the U.S. Coast
Engbring wasn't familiar with any recent UFO sightings at
his agency, but recalled an incident not long ago where
passengers on a commercial flight departing LAX reported
seeing an unfamiliar object ascend from the sea to the sky off
Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes.
That incident sounded strangely similar to a sighting in
early November at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. I
Although no one could recall the Pointe Vicente incident, I
was referred to a July 22, 2002, sighting of a flying triangle
off the coast.
My next inquiry was to the LBPD.
They had nothing recent to report, but there's always the
famous images captured by LBPD helicopter pilots on Dec. 25,
At around 11:30 p.m. that night, the chopper's videocamera
recorded a strange glowing object floating through the Long
Beach sky. They forwarded the tape to local military
officials, who couldn't - or wouldn't - identify it.
A copy of the tape was even given to KABC and broadcast
around the world, but nobody could figure out what it was.
Maybe there was something to this UFO stuff after all?
My next inquiry was at Long Beach Airport.
Airport Spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson said that in
December, a resident reported seeing unusual lights moving
erratically across the night sky.
Airport officials couldn't explain it.
As I learned during my research, such sightings date back
to World War II, when reports of UFOs and USOs (unidentified
submarine objects) began surfacing around the area.
The mother of all sightings probably occurred on the night
of Feb. 24-25, 1942, in what became known as the "Battle of
Jittery from the recent attack on Pearl Harbor, military
personnel manning anti-aircraft weapons along the coast were
ready for action when reports spread of "unidentified
aircraft" approaching from sea.
When a bright object was spotted above Santa Monica Bay,
shooting began, and "the air over Los Angeles erupted like a
volcano," according to press reports at the time.
No enemy plane was ever found.
Many more incidents followed in the succeeding decades,
though thankfully none involved heavy weapons.
On Aug. 8, 1954, a Japanese steam ship, Aliki, was floating
off the coast of Long Beach when several crew members observed
an underwater UFO, Bennett reported in a February 2006 article
titled "Is There an Underwater UFO Base Off the Southern
As the intercepted radio message from the ship reads, "Saw
fireball move in and out of sea without being doused. Left
wake of white smoke; course erratic; vanished from sight."
This was all getting a bit too weird.
The Press-Telegram's new offices high above downtown Long
Beach provide a perfect view of the port, harbor and beyond to
Despite my deep skepticism during research into this
column, I found myself staring out the window across the bay,
hoping to catch a glimpse of something strange emerging from
I'll let you know if anything pops into view.
Kristopher Hanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or