Beneath the Surface: We May Learn More about UAP by Looking in the Ocean

Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, PhD, US Navy (ret.)

Executive Summary

Research and attention regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are almost entirely focused on their aerial occurrences. Yet instances of UAP at sea, whether under the surface or traveling “transmedium”—between the atmosphere and the ocean—are also known to occur. Perhaps the most widely publicized example was the “Tic Tac” UAP, described by Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet pilots as hovering above roiling ocean whitewater during a training exercise in 2004. The whitewater may have indicated a larger UAP below or that the observed UAP had emerged from the sea, suggesting an unidentified submersible object (USO). More recently, a transmedium UAP was observed by US Navy personnel 
onboard the USS Omaha west of San Diego in 2019.

We have less research on transmedium UAP and USOs than is ideal, yet what data there is points to a few conclusions. First, these underwater anomalies jeopardize US maritime security, which is already weakened by our relative ignorance about the global ocean. Second, their presence in the oceans at the same time presents an unprecedented opportunity for maritime science. Third, to meet the security and scientific challenges, transmedium UAP 
and USOs should be elevated to national ocean research priorities.

Where national security is concerned, the current situation with maritime domain awareness is unsettling. Even though the ocean covers 71 percent of Earth’s surface, less than 25 percent of the seabed has been mapped to modern standards, and only 5 percent of the ocean volume explored—more is known about the surfaces of the moon and Mars than that of our own planet’s seafloor. The geophysical undersampling of the world’s ocean is a critical concern for maritime security, as obtaining and maintaining knowledge of threats on and under the sea remains a perpetually unfinished task. The fact that unidentified objects with unexplainable characteristics are entering US water space and the DOD is not raising a giant red flag is a sign that the government is not sharing all it knows about all-domain anomalous phenomena. An effective and complete approach to maritime security must seek to uncover the “unknown unknowns” associated with transmedium UAP and USOs.

Yet however concerning the security implications of UAP are, the scientific ramifications are nothing short of world changing. Pilots, credible observers, and calibrated military instrumentation have recorded objects accelerating at rates and crossing the air–sea interface in ways not possible for anything made by humans, and several pieces of congressional legislation support these observations by defining UAP as transmedium vehicles. The stunning implication is that engineering, materials science, and physics beyond the state of the art are needed to produce and operate these objects. This knowledge could transform such fields as air and maritime transportation, energy generation, agriculture, communications, computing, manufacturing, space travel—virtually every imaginable economic sector—not to mention defense. Further study of UAP may lead to discoveries that make those of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries look like baby steps.

To this end and to meet the maritime security challenge, transmedium UAP and USOs should be elevated to national ocean research priorities. Action should be taken by the US government, academia, philanthropies, the private sector, and the international community. The White House should take the lead, through several actions: directing through executive order the gathering, re-examination, and eventual disclosure of any relevant knowledge held by ocean agencies and departments such as NOAA, NASA, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Naval Oceanographic Office; including all-domain anomalous phenomena as a topic in The White House Research and Development Priorities Memorandum for the 2026 fiscal year budget; and directing the Ocean Policy Committee to add transmedium UAP and USOs to the strategic priorities in the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Ocean Mapping, Exploring, and Characterizing the US Exclusive Economic Zone. Meanwhile, Congress should include this same action in the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act and corresponding language in the reauthorization of the National Oceanographic Partnerships Program, the primary federal program for facilitating collaboration between universities, industry, and organizations in the ocean advocacy nonprofit space.

Beyond strengthening national security, expanding research on UAP into the maritime 
domain can lead to a greater understanding of the ocean, with positive outcomes for marine conservation and the American blue economy. Most crucially, a complete understanding 
of anomalous phenomena will remain hidden absent dedicated research in our largely 
unknown oceans.

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