This article was published in the daily newspaper in the Mercury, of Hobart, Australia, on June 17, 1974.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama. -- Experts at an Army missile base say they are puzzled about strange "ghost ships" picked up by powerful radar scanners in the Pacific during an exercise last summer.
There has been little official comment on what the scientists found during the exercise but Major Dallas Van Hoose, an Army spokesman, confirmed recently that "some unexplained aerial phenomena" were observed during the exercise last August.
Scientists, many of whom are reluctant to be named in interviews because of general public skepticism over unidentified flying objects, say privately they have been unable to find any explanation for the "ghost ships."
"We have never seen anything precisely like this before," said one ballistic missile defense expert who works for an Army agency here and who is familiar with the advanced radar used to test missiles and warheads.
Huntsville houses the Army's ballistic missile defense systems command which tests in the Kwajalein Atoll region of the Marshall Islands Trust Territory held by the U.S.
Last August, the Air Force launched a Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base aimed for the Kwalaicin missile range which is used by the Army, Air Force and Navy.
The radar experts in the Pacific found they were also tracking an unidentified flying object next to the ICBM's nose cone.
Radar picked up an inverted saucer-shaped object to the right and above the descending nose cone and watched it cross to warhead's trajectory to a point which was below and to the left of it before the phantom ship disappeared.
The ghost ship was described as being 10 feet high and 40 feet long.
Two separate radar systems saw it at the same time which may eliminate the probaility that there was a malfunction in one of the radar systems. It was also reported that three other identical objects were seen in the vicinity - the same size, shape and dimensions.
One scientist said the data indicated that the phantom ship "flew under its own power," but could not explain what sort of power was involved.
So far, none of the experts here believe that the ghost ship was a natural phenomenon caused by freak weather conditions or echoes commonly seen on radar screens.
When ufologists used the freedom of access to publication rights granted by the FOIA act, they were reffered to Vandenberg AFB, the base which lauchned the missile. Vandenberg AFB responded to their inquiries by saying the documents cannot be handed since they have been destroyed.