Another Military Cover-Up: The 1971 Bermuda Triangle UFO Incident

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
December 21, 2023
Estimated Reading Time
6 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

Although the main witness only saw it for less than half a minute, an incident with a bizarre object in the waters of the Bermuda Triangle in the early 1970s is yet another that appears to have been covered up by the powers that be. Indeed, while it is an account that is not rich in intricate detail, it is another that only saw the light of day due to the arrival of the Internet and the collective realization that many more people have witnessed these strange objects than some had previously thought, and as such, contributes to the increasing bigger picture of the UFO and alien question.

That the incident occurred at sea adds another layer of intrigue. As well as the fact that there have been several intriguing photographs captured from ships over the years, there is an increasing collective belief among UFO researchers and investigators, that mysterious objects may not be arriving here from space, but from our own oceans. We might also ask, does the fact that the encounter unfolded in the Bermuda Triangle offer some kind of explanation as to why this region of the Atlantic has so many tales of strange incidents?

Perhaps the fact that the encounter occurred over a US Navy vessel offers hope that further releases of information might leak into the public arena, whether in the form of leaked documents or declassified information. For now, though, here is what we know.

Somewhere Inside The Bermuda Triangle

According to the main witness, Jim Kopf, at some point in 1971, he was serving aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, a US Navy aircraft carrier near the infamous Bermuda Triangle area. [1] Kopf worked in the communications department and the ship was on its way back to Norfolk, Virginia, after having completed a two-week operation in the Caribbean.

On the night in question, at around 8:30 pm, Kopf was on duty in the communications center monitoring the eight teletypes that were printing out fleet broadcasts. It was as he was removing one of these printouts that he noticed the teletypes were “typing garbage”. Thinking there was a problem with the system, he placed a call to the Facilities Control department, informing them of the apparent error. A reply came back quickly, stating that “all communications were out”.

At this point, Kopf glanced over to the Naval Communications Operations Network (who were working out of the same room) and quickly realized that they too were having issues with their equipment. A real sense that something out of the ordinary was taking place permeated the room. Then, a voice came over the intercom and the whole situation turned even stranger.

“There’s Something Hovering Over The Ship!”

As the crew in the communications department were trying to figure out why all their equipment was down, the voice over the intercom announced that “there is something hovering over the ship!”

This one statement made everyone stop what they were doing and listen. A moment later, another voice came over the intercom, this one seemingly much more distressed. It said, “It is God! It’s the end of the world!”

The six crew members in the room looked at each other briefly, all unsure of what to do until one of them suggested they should “go have a look”. With that, all six quickly made their way out of the room and along the corridor to the hatch that would take them up to the flight deck.

As they made their way out to the deck, they all quickly became aware of a “large, glowing sphere” hovering in the evening sky. As the witnesses watched this sphere, they could see that the light “pulsated”, going between yellow and orange as it did so.

The object – whatever it was – was completely silent, and as there was nothing else to see in the night sky, it was hard for the witnesses to ascertain just how large it was and how high above the ship it was. The witness offered in his report that if the object was only 100 feet above the ship, it would have been around 300 feet across. If it were five times higher than that, then it would have been significantly larger.

The witnesses stared in awe at the object for around 20 seconds. Then, the alarm for Battle Stations sounded out.

“All Radar Screens Were Just Glowing!”

At the sound of the alarm, the witnesses returned to the communications center. They remained there for around 20 minutes before the communications equipment suddenly burst into life, seemingly cured of whatever was preventing them from working. Interestingly, however, Kopf noted that he didn’t hear or see any messages or other communications regarding the bizarre incident, something that he found strange.

Several hours later, he managed to speak to another crew member and close friend who was a radar operator in the combat information center. He informed Kopf – unofficially, of course – that during the episode, “all the radar screens were just glowing”, meaning that whatever was above the ship for those 20 minutes or so, was of mammoth proportions.

Kopf also spoke to a friend who worked on the Navigational Bridge, who similarly, informed him that all of the compasses stopped working during the incident. Even more remarkable, one of the crew who was on lookout duty on the bridge had to be sedated by medics such was his shock at what he was witnessing (we might recall the voice they heard over the intercom stating that “it was god” and that the “end of the world” was upon them).

Over the coming days, Kopf would discreetly speak to as many people as he could about the incident in an attempt to uncover as much detail as he could.

The Arrival Of “Men In Trench Coats”

Kopf would discover that not only was the communications and navigational equipment out for the duration of the episode, but the ship’s entire electrics simply stopped working. Even stranger, the two F-4 Phantom jets – that were always ready to launch – simply would not start, meaning no intercept mission could take place.

Although he didn’t see them himself, he further heard that in the days following the encounter, several “men in trench coats” landed in the vessel. They systematically interviewed all who had seen the object. However, neither Kopf nor any of the six crew members who had been in the communications center that evening were interviewed. This confirmed to Kopf that both his superiors, and the mysterious men who had arrived on the ship, were aware that any of them saw anything unusual (aside from their equipment being down).

Perhaps amazingly, although there were approximately 5000 crew members on board the ship at the time of the sightings, only “a handful” of them witnessed the events that evening. This was largely due to an exercise having just been completed, meaning the vast majority of the crew were below deck resting.

“Classified” Incidents “Not To Be Discussed With Anyone!”

Several days after the incident the USS John F. Kennedy arrived at port in Norfolk. As is standard procedure, before the crew left the ship to go on leave, the Commanding and Executive Officers addressed the crew on the closed-circuit TV system on board the ship. This particular address, though, was quite different from any they had seen before.

After standard compliments, including how they had performed on their training exercises over the previous weeks, the captain’s tone changed somewhat. He sternly informed the crew that “certain events that place aboard a Naval Combatant Ship” were “classified”, and that they should “not be discussed with anyone without a need to know”.

And with that, they were dismissed.

It was clear to Kopf, as well as the rest of the crew, just what the captain was referring to during this last part of his speech. And while he did not specifically mention the unidentified object that had clearly hovered over the vessel, this was, according to the witness, the only official reference he heard at any point since the episode had unfolded.

An Almost Forgotten Encounter

As strange as it might sound – even to Kopf himself – he quickly forgot about the incident once he arrived home. That was until several years later when he happened to see the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In fact, he happened to see the film with his friend (along with their respective wives) who had been the radar operator on the night in question.

He recalled that as they were walking back to their vehicles after the movie, Kopf asked him if he remembered the night in question. To his shock, his friend turned decidedly pale and offered only that he “never wanted to talk about it again”. And with that, the incident was forgotten about.

It was only with the arrival of the Internet that Kopf finally made the incident public in the early 2000s. After reading several posts and reports from people all over the world who had witnessed similar things, he decided to submit his own report. Had he not, then the events of that night in 1971 would remain completely forgotten about.

Just what was witnessed that evening almost half a century ago remains unknown. It would seem clear, however, based on other similar sightings and incidents, that the glowing object was indeed, what most of us would recognize as a UFO. Of course, whether that craft came from the reaches of space, some discreet location on Earth, or was even constructed and operated by the military remains open to debate.

We might also consider whether the location is of importance. We know that all manner of strange incidents have occurred in and around the Bermuda Triangle going back centuries. Was this a factor in this bizarre occurrence?

Whatever it was, the military appeared eager to suppress and cover up the encounter. And that eagerness should perhaps cause us to ask, why? Just what did the powers that be know that had to be kept from the general public? Of course, that is a question that is still waiting for an answer.

The short video below looks at some of the most intriguing UFO cases in history.


1 US Aircraft Carrier stopped by UFO, Jim Kopf, Rense

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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