Mysterious drones swarmed US warships, and the Navy has no idea where they came from more than a year later

US Navy
A sailor on low-visibility watch on the USS Bonhomme Richard in the East China Sea. U.S. Navy via Getty Images
  • A top US Navy official said it was no closer to identifying drones that swarmed US warships, NBC News reported.
  • The drones hovered near warships in training exercises off the California coast in 2019.
  • Documents suggest the drones are more powerful than commercial models.
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The US Navy is no closer to identifying mysterious drones that were spotted hovering around US warships off the coast of California, a top Navy commander said.

Speaking at an event in Washington, DC, on Monday, Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, said that the sightings were still being assessed by naval intelligence, reported NBC News.

“No, we have not,” Gilday answered, as quoted by the outlet, when asked whether the Navy had identified the drones spotted in 2019 near US vessels off the Californian Channel Islands.

“I am aware of those sightings, and as it’s been reported, there have been other sightings by aviators in the air and by other ships not only of the United States, but other nations – and of course other elements within the US joint force,” Gilday said.

“Those findings have been collected and they still are being analyzed,” he said.

Gilday was referring to a series of puzzling incidents uncovered by documentary filmmaker Dave Beaty, in which the destroyers USS Kidd, USS Rafael Peralta, and USS John Finn were tracked by the drones during exercises in a military zone near the California coast.

Further details of the incidents were obtained by the The Drive, a cars-focused website that also covers defense issues. It obtained details in March using FOIA requests.

According to deck log documents obtained by the website, the drones surpassed the capacity of commercially obtainable drones. As many as six at a time hovered round the ships, often in low-visibility conditions, and had flashing lights. They were able to keep up with the warships at a speed of about 16 knots.

The incidents took place near sensitive US military and training facilities, and prompted an investigation by US naval intelligence and the FBI, according to The Drive.

Gilray, though, was clear in his remarks Monday that there was no evidence the drones were extraterrestrial in origin, NBC said.