Editor's Note: In view of the recent increase in sightings of UFO's reported in the media, we thought the following first hand account of some 20 years ago would make interesting reading.
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I hunched over my typewriter in the radio shack of the liquid petroleum gas tanker, S.S. Natalie O. Warren. I typed a log entry, then turned up the volume of the long wave receiver, switching over to an external speaker that would allow me to hear the incoming C. W. signals at a distance.
Liquid Petroleum Gas Tanker, S.S. Natalie O. Warren.
Wanting a breath of fresh air, I stepped to the boat deck. A black shroud hung over the sea — no moon; yet starshine dimpled the waters.
The previous day our 33,000 barrel L.P.G. tanker had steamed southward, skirting the Florida Keys, then turned on a northwesterly course through the straits between Key West and Havana, Cuba. Now we clocked off the sea miles on the last two day run to Norsworthy Terminal. This was home port, just outside Pasadena, Texas, on the Houston ship channel. Everyone on board looked forward to arrival the following night.
The vessel pitched gently to a mid-gulf swell as I adjusted my stride accordingly and stepped through the wheelhouse door. The luminous hands of the Seth Thomas clock approached the 9 P.M. mark this night of November 22, 1952.
“How about bumming a cup of your coffee,” I asked my friend “Woody” Witty, Third Mate on the 8 to 12 P.M. watch. “Ski” Jablonsky, Chief Mate, lounged at the log desk. An Able Seaman handled the wheel. A lookout man stood watch on the starboard wing of the bridge deck.
Several minutes passed as we discussed generalities of the day. Without straining I could easily hear the booming, 500 kilocycle C.W. signals from the speaker in the radio shack at the end of the wheelhouse passageway. The black coffee was invigorating. A sense of peace and well-being settled over me.
My reverie was shattered when the man on lookout stuck his head through the open wing-deck door announcing excitedly “There’s an unidentified light in the sky approaching rapidly two points off the stern on the port side.”
The two mates and I lunged across the wheelhouse and rushed to the wing of the bridge, high above the banks of cylindrical tanks below.
“Woody” elevated his 7 x 50 night glasses. He targeted in on the approaching light, “It’s coming fast,” he exclaimed. “And it’s no airplane!"
By now I could see the shining unidentified object without the aid of binoculars. “It looks like a shooting star to me,” I said, “but I never saw a shooting star traveling on a horizontal course.”
Less than a minute passed. The mysterious object, brighter than any planet, lit up the sky directly off our port beam. Still without much detail, the UFO could not have been over two miles away, directly opposite us. I judged it to be at an altitude approximately 4000 feet above the surface of the dark waters below.
Mounting excitement built up in us. Woody thrust the night glasses at me and shouted, “Wow!, Sparks! Take a look!” Then he turned to the lookout man and commanded, “Go call Captain Zalnick, quick!”
I grabbed the binoculars, focused and zeroed in on the brilliant object.
Awed by what I saw, I shook with nervous reaction. There before me a huge, glowing, half-round object coursed through the night sky, now crossing our bow a few degrees on the starboard side. The bizarre spacecraft tilted up to a thirty degree angle allowing us to get a good look at its superstructure. All details stood out in bold relief, nothing left to the imagination.
The visitor from outer space emitted a pulsating, orange glow similar to that of steel heated in a forge. The upper housing curved up and around like a citrus fruit cut in half. Around its periphery, evenly-spaced darker circles (obviously portholes) masked an unrevealed interior.
Below, and at the base of the superstructure, three, thick corona rings extending horizontally revolved at some unknown tremendous rate of speed. These three rings shimmered like the blue portion of a gas flame — yet, with a more electric quality. The rings whirled around in a fixed path. The middle — or second ring outward from the main housing — appeared to be revolving in the opposite direction from that of the other two.
An eerie silence hung over our tanker. Not one infinitesimal shred of sound emanated from this galaxial visitor. Strangely enough, its magnetic presence did not affect our compass or radio communications.
By comparing it with the size of the Natalie O. Warren, I estimated the diameter of the space ship’s cabin to be at least two hundred feet. I mentally added another hundred feet to be the distance to the outer corona ring — or three hundred feet total for the diameter of the entire space ship.
By the time any of us thought of cameras, the celestial visitor had dwindled to a bright dot among the stars, and then faded out into only a vivid recollection. The UFO had been clearly above us for about a minute; but real enough and close enough to be imprinted on our memories forever.
This unique experience changed my whole concept of the mysteries of outer space, providing irrevocable evidence to me of human life among the endless galaxies.
“Seeing is believing.” That night in the Gulf of Mexico made a believer out of me.