Shag Harbour UFO incident

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The Shag Harbour UFO incident was the reported impact of an unknown large object into waters near Shag Harbour, a tiny fishing village in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on October 4, 1967. The reports were investigated by various civilian (Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Coast Guard) and military (Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force) agencies of the Government of Canada and the U.S. Condon Committee.

Aerial view of the location of the Shag Harbour Incident

Pre-incident aerial phenomenon
Air Canada flight 305
En route to Toronto while flying over Sherbrooke and Saint-Jean, Quebec at 3658 m, from the Halifax International airport, Air Canada Capt. Pierre Charbounneau on Flight 305 pointed out to co-pilot Bob Ralph that there was something strange out the left side of the aircraft at 7:15PM. In his report the captain report an object tracking along on a parallel course a few miles away. He describes it as a brilliantly lit, rectangular object with a string of smaller lights trailing the object. At 7:19, the pilots noticed a sizeable silent explosion near the large object; two minutes later, a second explosion occurred which faded to a blue cloud around the object.

Yellow object

Darrel Dorey, his sister Annette, and his mother were sitting on their front porch in Mahone Bay, when they noticed a large object manoeuvring above the southwestern horizon. The next day Darrell wrote a letter to RCAF Greenwood Base Commander asking what was flying over the water that evening, as he had never seen anything like it.

MV Nickerson of Sambro, Nova Scotia

While standing at the wheelhouse of his vessel, Capt. Leo Howard Mersey was looking at four blips on his Decca radar that were stationary. When he looked up about 28km from the vessel’s windows he could see the four bright objects situated in a roughly rectangular formation. The entire crew of nearly twenty fishermen stood on deck and watched the object in the northeastern sky. Mersey radioed the rescue coordination centre and the harbour master in Halifax asking for an explanation, and filed a report with the Lunenburg RCMP outlining his sighting when they arrived in port.

Halifax Harbour sightings

The Chronicle-Herald and local radio stations reported a glowing object that had been seen by many people who had called their newsroom. They reported witnessing strange glowing objects flying around Halifax at around 10:00 PM.

Initial events

On the night of October 4, 1967, at about 11:20 p.m. Atlantic Daylight Time, it was reported that something had crashed into the waters of Shag Harbour. At least eleven people saw a low-flying lit object head towards the harbour. Multiple witnesses reported hearing a whistling sound “like a bomb,” then a “whoosh,” and finally a loud bang. The object was never officially identified, and was therefore referred to as an unidentified flying object (UFO) in Government of Canada documents. The Canadian military became involved in a subsequent rescue/recovery effort. The initial report was made by local resident Laurie Wickens and four of his friends. Driving through Shag Harbour, on Highway 3, they spotted a large object descending into the waters off the harbour. Attaining a better vantage point, Wickens and his friends saw an object floating 250 to 300 m (820 to 980 ft) offshore in the waters of Shag Harbour. Wickens contacted the RCMP detachment in Barrington Passage and reported he had seen a large airplane or small airliner crash into the waters off Shag Harbour.

Search and rescue efforts

The UFO Gazebo and picnic site can be found about 3 minutes up the road from the Shag Harbour Museum Centre, where visitors can look out on the ocean to the location the object crashed in 1967

Assuming an aircraft had crashed, within about 15 minutes, 10 RCMP officers arrived at the scene. Concerned for survivors, the RCMP detachment contacted the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Halifax to advise them of the situation, and ask if any aircraft were missing. Before any attempt at rescue could be made, the object started to sink and disappeared from view.
A rescue mission was quickly assembled. Within half an hour of the crash, local fishing boats went out to the crash site in the waters of the Gulf of Maine off Shag Harbour to look for survivors. No survivors, bodies or debris were taken, either by the fishermen or by a Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue cutter, which arrived about an hour later from nearby Clark’s Harbour.
By the next morning, RCC Halifax had determined that no aircraft were missing. While still tasked with the search, the captain of the Canadian Coast Guard cutter received a radio message from RCC Halifax that all commercial, private and military aircraft were accounted for along the eastern seaboard, in both Atlantic Canada and New England.
The same morning, RCC Halifax also sent a priority telex to the “Air Desk” at Royal Canadian Air Force headquarters in Ottawa, which handled all civilian and military UFO sightings, informing them of the crash and that all conventional explanations such as aircraft, flares, etc. had been dismissed. Therefore, this was labeled a “UFO Report.” The head of the Air Desk then sent another priority telex to the Royal Canadian Navy headquarters concerning the “UFO Report” and recommended an underwater search be mounted. The RCN in turn sent another priority telex tasking Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic with carrying out the search.
Two days after the incident had been observed, a detachment of RCN divers from Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic was assembled and for the next three days they combed the seafloor of the Gulf of Maine off Shag Harbor looking for an object. The final report said no trace of an object was found.

Documents

There is a summary of the event from the Department of National Defence files located at Library and Archives Canada.

Condon Committee

The Shag Harbour reports were investigated by the Condon Committee.

Press coverage

The Shag Harbour reports received extensive front page coverage in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. The paper ran a headline story on October 7 titled, “Could Be Something Concrete in Shag Harbor UFO — RCAF.” The article, by Ray MacLeod, included witness descriptions of an alleged object and crash, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) search and rescue effort, and the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) underwater search that was underway, including three additional divers from Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic.

 

Image by J5255Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Image by SnowyBadgerOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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