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5 Navy witnesses describe UFO encounter with aircraft carrier

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 launches from aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Quinton A. Lee)
May 10, 2022

Five people who all served as sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) spoke out about their 2004 encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO). A report published Monday first revealed their accounts of the incident.

The five former sailors, including three individuals who agreed to be named and two individuals who remained anonymous, described their 2004 UFO encounter to the Debrief. The witnesses could not recall the exact date of the UFO encounter but all gave nearly the same description of the object they observed as the ship sailed off the east coast of the U.S.

Karol Olesiak was a 3rd class petty officer and Quartermaster of the Watch (QMOW) for the ship at the time of the reported encounter and came forward as the first witness for the event. Olesiak told the outlet he was getting to his post during the 8:00 PM-12:00 a.m. time frame and the previous watch had indicated something was going on by the time Olesiak arrived, but offered him no additional information.

Olesiak said he soon determined an object was hovering over the ship’s flight deck. He described the object as a large round, orange, glowing object with a fiery surface that appeared to hover about 100 feet above the flight deck.

In his interview with the Debrief, he described the exchange with the previous watch as he took his post.

“I’m pretty sure ‘it’ was there,” Olesiak said. “And they were like, ‘I don’t know what that is. I don’t care.’ You know what I mean? Like they had an attitude like ‘I’m going to my rack. I don’t care. … don’t even bother me about this shit’… So this ‘thing’ is there, the entirety of my watch and because the officers are ignoring it, I’m forced to ignore it.”

Olesiak said he directed the Officer Of the Watch (OOW) and the Conning Officer on the bridge to the strange object but they did not seem alarmed. When asked why he didn’t report his sighting at the time, Olesiak reiterated the lack of concern by the officers and said, “It’s a problem when somebody says that it’s a problem. It’s a problem when somebody tells you that it’s a problem.”

Olesiak said the UFO stayed with the ship during his entire four-hour shift.

Derek Smith, the second witness to come forward, said he was posted as a lookout and was with a third female witness, identified only as Witness 3, during their encounter with the UFO. Smith also described the UFO as a large, orange-colored, glowing object.

“There was a shape to it. It was oval-shaped… it didn’t look solid, but it had a shape to it,” Smith said. He also said the object was “glowing, gaseous” and appeared to be self-luminous.

Another sailor identified only as “Witness 3,” was undergoing lookout training with Smith at the time. Witness 3 described the UFO as a “round object with a glowing orange color and fuzzy-looking edges” with a swirling inner color that reminded her of a “science video of the sun close up.” She said the object was floating a few hundred feet above the flight deck and keeping pace with the ship. Witness 3 said Smith directed her to call the ship’s operations center to report the strange object, but when she did she was reportedly met with skepticism and was asked if she “was smoking crack.”

“After I had called it in…..They were like… let us know what happens,” Witness 3 told the Debrief. “And then it stayed with us. I don’t remember how long it stayed with the ship, but it stayed with the ship for a while. …It just followed us. And they were like, ‘well what’s your positioning with the sun?’. I was like, ‘that’s not the sun.’”

A fourth witness, Patrick Gokey, believes the encounter happened at some point during the USS Ronald Reagan’s sea trials, which took place from December 2003 to May 2004. He recalled being told “We are in the Bermuda Triangle” around when the encounter took place.

Gokey said the UFO was a “bright orange ball, and it was wavy, but somehow still solid like a plasma almost.”

Gokey described a shorter 30-second encounter with the UFO. He said “It just did three half circles, just 1, 2, 3, and it was gone. I mean just in the blink of an eye,  it was gone. And so that was pretty weird and, you know.”

Gokey said he reported the sighting and was aware that other people had reported it too.

Gokey said he saw another object with the same characteristics as the first while he was at a different point on the ship. He said it again performed three half-circle movements again and then “shot away.” Gokey said he thought it was under intelligent control. “It just couldn’t have been random.”

Another witness, identified only as Witness 5, said he was in contact with lookouts including Smith, Witness 3, Gokey and others on the ship. When he arrived at his post on the night of the encounter, he said his chief told him to go outside and see why the lookouts were “horsing around on the intercom system talking about UFOs.” Witness 5 said he stepped outside and was prepared to “chew out” the lookouts when he saw the object for himself, a “glowing orange,” “fuzzy” “blob” floating about 200 feet above the ship’s deck.

“It was like a translucent blob, really translucent,” Witness 5 said. “You could kind of see through it and it was…like a lava lamp It had that type of movement…It seemed almost like viscous, but in the air, and it moved.”

Efforts to gather information about this 2004 encounter may be hindered by a lack of records. Some of the witnesses described superiors ordering records of the sightings to be erased.

“I remember one of the officers on the deck ordering someone to take the pages out of the deck logbook,” Gokey remembers, “which for me was the most surprising thing because I was always told in the Navy that whatever you write in that logbook is a legal record and you can’t, you know, just destroy it, ripping out anything like that. So that was actually the most surprising thing to me.”

Witness 5 said he entered the sighting into the official log of the Boatswain’s Watch when a senior officer ordered him to “rip that shit out.” 

Witness 3 said the lookouts were told not to write about the sighting.

“I asked, should I be logging this? You know, and I think I might have asked the conning officer and I don’t remember exactly what he said, but the impression that I got was that this should not be in the official log,” Olesiak also said.

Luis Elizondo. a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent, former employee of the Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) told the Debrief he had studied cases where officials avoided reporting UFO sighting due to the stigma surrounding the topic. He also described military officials going through the required motions of documenting strange sightings, but then erasing them

“​​There’s actually a term that they used which … was basically ‘log it and scratch it’,” Elizondo told the Debrief. “So basically they were required to log these incidents, but then basically they would scratch it off as if it didn’t happen. So, they were following their orders to log it, but then they scratched it out. So in essence you know…  they’re doing what they’re told to do, but at the same time, it’s not getting reported.”

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee’s subcommittee on counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and counterproliferation announced it would hold a May 17 open hearing on “unidentified aerial phenomena” or UAPs, a term the DoD has used in recent years to describe unidentified flying objects.