Navy Warship Battled Mystery Drone Swarm in 2019, Court Docs Reveal

by Samantha Whidden
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A U.S. Navy warship fired at a drone swarm that was reportedly terrorizing a destroyer off the coast of California for weeks in 2019.

According to The Drive, newly released documents that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) acquired reveal that the full scope of the drone incursions was greater than initially appeared. The swarms even persisted after the investigation by the Navy was launched. 

The records show that the deck logs indicate drone sightings continued throughout the month of July 2019. One event actually involved at least three U.S. Navy ships. Each observed multiple drones. The media outlet also had a map that showed interactions between a drone and an Arleigh Burke class destroy, the U.S.S. Paul Hamilton. 

The map actually shows that the Navy ship was seen making an abrupt right-hand turn while the drone followed closely. U.S.S. Russell, another Arleigh Burke class destroyer, continued to report drone sightings as well. Several days after seeing the drones, the Russell conducted an initial counter-drone exercise. The Navy conducted another set of counter-drone exercises later that day. This time, the ship fired a 5-inch naval gun. 

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday previously clarified that the aircraft was never identified. He also stated that there had been similar incidents across service branches and allied militaries. 

Navy Officials Launch ‘Ghostbuster’ Teams to Deal With the Drones 

Following the series of encounters with the unidentified drones, Navy officials decided to launch “ghostbuster” teams to deal with the flying devices.  While on the U.S.S. Russell, the “ghostbuster” devices were used to countering the drones. After an incident happened in the early of July 30, 2019, a “SNOOPIE” team was activated. The “ghostbusters” were then called shortly after. 

The Drive also revealed that the USS Kidd, another Arleigh Burke class destroyer involved in these incidentsdeployed its own SNOOPIE team for UAVs at 2:16 in the morning of July 30th.  U.S.S. Paul Hamilton logs also show multiple drones sightings off the ship. Its SNOOPIE team was ready. The team was out at 3:30 in the morning on July 30th. 

The U.S.S. Russell eventually activated its SNOOPIE team and “ghostbusters” later on in the morning of July 30th. 

Also in the reports, there was a SCAT reference. SCAT stands for Small Craft Action Team. This is a team that consists of crew-served weapons machine gun operators. They each provide 360-degree coverage of the ship. They also have an anti-terrorism tactical water official and a gunnery liaison officer. 

Although all three ships report drone sightings in the very early hours of July 30th, the media outlet adds that there is no other information about what happened after the sightings. 

Outsider.com