03-MM-1945 - U.S.S. New York (BB-34)
Off New York October 1945
With thanks to:
On December 8, 1984, I interviewed Mr. D. P. [Name on file with MUFON-CF-] of North Bennington, Vermont, on a very interesting event which occurred during World War Two, and which both he and several thousand others were witness to. The following is my documented report of the interview I had with him. Please note that this incident happened some forty years ago, and although Mr. P. does remember much of what happened that day, there are still a few details, which because of the time span, he has forgotten.
In mid-March of 1945, the battleship U.S.S. New York was in the South Pacific in the area of the Admiralty Islands. The ship had just spent three weeks there making repairs on damage it had received earlier during the battle of Iwo Jima. The New York had with it at the time two destroyers as its escorts
Cpl. Donald P. was aboard the battleship as part of the FMF PAC (Fleet Marine Force Pacific). The weather that day was warm, very sunny, and clear. The ship and its escort were on its way to join up once again with the Seventh Fleet.
Suddenly during the early afternoon around 1300 hrs, the ship was called to General Quarters. Every man ran to his battle station thinking that this might be a Japanese suicide attack. Everyone was in position; all guns were manned and ready. Cpl. P. at the time was a gunner on one of the ship’s 40 mm gun mounts. All hands waited at their battle station for something to fire at, for the sky was clear as far as the eye could see. Inside the ship, a single distinct blip had appeared out of nowhere on the radar scope. A few seconds later and the blip became visible in the sky... almost directly over the battleship. There it hovered, motionless.
By this time, the ship’s captain, Capt. K. C. Christian, was out on deck looking at the object through binoculars. It wasn't long before most of the ship’s two thousand personal (sic) were also observing it either through binoculars or with the naked eye.
The object was described as being silver in color and very shiny. It was much larger than what the brightest star would be, but smaller than a full moon. There was no noise that anyone could detect, and it did not change color, split up, [or] perform any erratic manauveurs (sic), but remained above the ship, matching speed and course with it.
After about a half an hour had passed, Capt. Christian and many members of the crew were getting a bit nervous. Was it a Japanese trick or some new kind of weapon? Capt. Christian didn't know and wasn't going to take any chances. Quickly, he ordered two of the ship’s 3 inch anti-aircraft mounts to open fire on it. For about the next half hour the 3 inch guns hammered away at the object... but to no avail. It must have been out of their range because the shells did not seem to be reaching it. Later it was learned that at that time, the object was at an altitude of twenty thousand feet.
Finally, Capt. Christian ordered the guns to cease fire. The object remained above the ship for a few more seconds, then, to everyone’s amazement, it climbed up at a fantastic rate of speed until it was out of sight and off the radar scope. Everyone aboard the ship was stunned by this; they had never seen anything like it.
I asked Mr. P. if the men on the destroyers had seen it too. He replied that they must have... they must have wondered what the firing of the 3 inch guns was all about.
I then asked him what happened, if anything, after the object had left. He said that they were secured from General Quarters and went back to their normal routine, but it was the talk of the ship for days after. Nobody to his knowledge was told to keep the matter hush-hush... nor made to sign any forms pertaining to that.
"U.F.O.’s were not very well known back in those days,” Mr. P. explained to me. "You just didn't hear anything about them or very little. Besides, everyone was preoccupied with the war that was going on at the time. Anyhow, we knew, after watching it for a few minutes, that it was not any type of a plane because our ship was only traveling at around twelve knots. A plane could not travel that low without stalling the engine and dropping into the ocean. It was too sunny and bright that day to be a star, and it was not a balloon... not in the middle of the Pacific. We didn't know what it was."
Mr. P. did mention to me that years later when he was once again a civilian, he remembers reading a magazine article describing the incident. He isn't sure but he thinks it may have been the Times magazine. Also, years after that they had a discussion about it and some other sightings on a television talk show, but he doesn't remember what show it may have been. So from these two instances right here, it is clear that what went on that day aboard the U.S.S. New York was not kept secret.
All Mr. P. knows for sure is that they did see the object, it was picked up on radar, they did fire at it with no success, it went straight up and out of sight when it left, and it did not cause any damage, abnormalities, or harm to the ship., equipment, or personnel.
Stephen A. Pratt
Chief Field Investigator MUFON
This reference: From MUFON files, with name deleted for confidentiality.
And just yesterday Witness #2 made himself known
Another point of view
E-mail dated 16 Oct. 2008, to Keith Chester, author of Strange Company in which this case appears on pages 151-152; forwarded to me (CF) November 3, 2008.
From: Arthur Criste
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2008, 18:27:49 -0700
To: Patrick Huyghe
Subject: USS New York
Just read your account of the sphere hovering over the battleship New York. I was on watch that day and my job was radar operator on an anti-aircraft gun director. The captain ordered us to get a range on the object, but the radar did not detect anything. I then moved to the optical rangefinder and determined it was beyond the range of that instrument. However, an officer overruled my range and the captain ordered various guns to commence firing. When the 3" guns began to fire, the navigator, who was sleeping in a nearby cabin, was awakened. He thought we were being attacked, but when he looked skyward, he said, “For #&*&^%$#, you guys are firing at Venus!”
That's the true version. I was there and I am sooooo glad I didn't take a range on Venus.
My name is Arthur T. Criste. I was an FCO3/c Fire Control Operator. I had just turned 20, but I remember that incident so well. Who wouldn’t??
Note by me (Carl Feindt)
I had several questions regarding his point of view vs. the testimony given by the witness in the MUFON report.
But the witness sticks to his “Guns”
Hello Mr. Feindt,
I'll cut to the chase here. The object we were firing at that day was the planet Venus. It was thought to have been a Japanese balloon [balloon bomb CF-], this brought on by recent reports of the balloons being launched in Japan and crossing the Pacific to land in various parts of the northwest. The reason the radar failed to detect a target was due to the fact of its maximum which was 20,000 yards, well beyond the range of our anti-aircraft guns.
Lt. Burns was the officer in charge of Sky Forward when this incident occurred and Ruth was the name of the pointer (the person who actually aims the gun director). He was a Fire Control man 2/C as I recall. Mr. Burns wasn't as familiar with the rangefinder as I was, and I think he was anxious to please the captain when he reported the range, as were we all.
Though I'm 83, I still have a clear memory of this event. I am still active. I am a retired electrician (1989) and drove a school bus until January this year. Some might question my state of mind for taking on that job, but the kids kept me young, and I miss them very much. I am also into RC airplanes. I mention these facts to assure you that I am positive my version of that incident is the way it occurred.
By the way, it appeared in the magazine The New Yorker (See extract below from The New Yorker magazine article.-CF-) in one of the fall issues of 1945. Every member of the ship's crew received a copy of the article. Sadly, I have lost mine. You might be able to find it online.
Mr. Feindt, I hope this helps in your efforts to get at the facts, and I assure you there was no UFO involved. I believe there were many unusual and mysterious events in that war, enough to keep you busy for a very long time.
Feel free to use my name in regard to this incident only.
My best wishes to you as well,
Arthur T. Criste
Last notes by me (Carl Feindt)
In my e-mail to the witness I had said:
“I defy anyone to see any heavenly body (other than the moon), near high noon.”
So I went to Google to anchor that statement and to my surprise found a photo of Venus in the daytime sky: http://www.fourmilab.ch/images/venus_daytime/ . It states in one of the paragraphs below the photo: When Venus is bright and far from the Sun in a clear sky, you can observe this planet in broad daylight with the unaided eye."
I do have a couple more questions that I hope you will answer to clarify some statements made in the MUFON report.
1) Did the ship have a CIC (Combat Information Center) with radar, below decks?
2) In the following text: “The object remained above the ship for a few more seconds, then, to everyone’s amazement, it climbed up at a fantastic rate of speed until it was out of sight and off the radar scope.”
It seems that the guns were firing for a half hour and then were ordered to cease. Then the object departed? Were you still observing Venus while the guns were firing and after they ceased firing?
If this was Venus, it would have to stay and not depart as that witness described.
Hello Mr. Feindt,
Answer to #1: As I recall, we had radar for surface targets, which, no doubt, was observed in CIC and in turn to the main and secondary batteries. The radar for aircraft targets was on the Mark 50 Directors located on the foremast and the mainmast.
Answer to #2: The object, which was Venus, remained in view; it's a planet. The guns [fired?-CF] for less than five minutes because, as stated in my last email, the 3" guns woke the navigator. What better person to recognize Venus than a navigator.
Mr. Feindt, it was an incident that was a comedy of errors, nothing more. An unforgettable one nonetheless, but I wouldn't try to make more than it was.
Arthur T. Criste
THE NEW YORKER magazine dated October 27, 1945, pp. 39-40, an extract under the title:
P R O F I L E S
NEW YORK OR BUST
By William McGuire and Mark Murphy
A young yeoman has told of an occurrence on this momentous trip of the New York. The captain was practicing golf shots one day on the bridge, using a No. 5 iron, a piece of cotton in place of a ball, and a Marine guard as a retriever. Everything was placid, except the blade-shy propeller, when a strange object was seen following the vessel. It looked like a luminous metallic balloon and was immediately and unanimously judged to be a Japanese secret weapon of some sort. "You should have seen our captain," the yeoman said. "He came back to the fantail and looked through his special binoculars. ‘I see it,' he said quietly. He was a great man in a crisis. Marines were assigned to the twenty-millimetre guns, and they gathered in a little group on the starboard side of the bridge. The privates began opening ready boxes, and the gunnery sergeant, very professional, put on his flash gear and rubbed pink cream on his face. The captain yelled, calmly, of course, to the gunnery officer up in the sky control, 'Guns, give me a range on that object!' The gunnery officer replied, 'Approximately, sir, eight thousand eight hundred yards.' The captain said, 'Good. I thought it was about that. Let 'em have it.' The twenty-millimetres sounded like popguns, and the tracers faded into the sky, very short. The gunnery officer switched to the forty-millimetres, and they were short, too. The Marine sergeant shouted, 'Bring them more to the left!' The captain yelled, 'Goddam it, guns, you're short! Open it up, open it up!' The gunnery officer switched to the three-inch dual-purposes and opened the range to fifteen thousand yards. Still too short. We signaled to the destroyer alongside and it tried its five-inch guns. Still no dice. It was getting late, and the mess cooks went below to fix supper. Finally, the navigator, who'd been asleep, came topside, rubbing his eyes. He put his hands down, looked around, and said, 'What the hell you shooting at? That's Venus, a damn planet.' That's what Venus looked like out there," the yeoman concluded, "a Japanese secret weapon. The gunnery officer said he guessed he was pretty short on that range."
UFOCAT PRN 146190 [DOS: 03-MM-1945]
UFOCAT URN 146190 From Airships to Arnold: (1900-1946) by Richard Hall, p. 025, © 2000
South Pacific - Papua New Guinea
Admiralty Islands Latitude 02-10-00 S, Longitude 147-00-00 E (D-M-S)
Ship’s history for this period:
New York sailed 21 November for the west coast, arriving San Pedro 6 December for gunnery training in preparation for amphibious operations. She departed San Pedro 12 January 1945, called at Pearl Harbor, and was diverted to Eniwetok to survey screw damage. Nevertheless, despite impaired speed, she joined the Iwo Jima assault force in rehearsals at Saipan. She sailed well ahead of the main body to join in pre-invasion bombardment at Iwo Jima 16 February. During the next three days, she fired more rounds than any other ship present, and, as if to show what an old-timer could do, made a spectacular direct 14"-hit on an enemy ammunition dump.
Leaving Iwo Jima, New York at last repaired her propellers at Manus and had speed restored for the assault on Okinawa, which she reached 27 March 1945 to begin 76 consecutive days of action. She fired pre-invasion and diversionary bombardments, covered landings, and gave days and nights of close support to troops advancing ashore. She did not go unscathed; a kamikaze grazed her 14 April, demolishing her spotting plane on its catapult. She left Okinawa 11 June to regun at Pearl Harbor.