The Official Public Search

On their way to Shag Harbour, Wilfred and Norm Smith were backing out of their driveway when a police cruiser with flashing red lights came streaking by, apparently RCMP constables Pond and O'Brien.  When they got to the water's edge, a dozen people were already there at the Irish Moss plant, including Laurie Wickens and friends, and RCMP constables Pond and O'Brien.  Corporal Werbicki pulled up a few minutes later.  More people soon appeared, drawn by the flashing lights of the police cars.

The yellow light was still bobbing on the water and appeared to be part of an object about 60 feet across. Constable Pond viewed the object through binoculars.  Soon the light grew fainter and appeared to slip under the water.

Werbicki put Constable O'Brien in charge of find a boat and crew for a rescue mission. High tide had been nearly 2 hours earlier and currents would be pulling the object out to sea. O'Brien
called the RCC (Rescue Coordination Center) at 11:38 p.m.  At 12:08 a.m. RCC contacted the Coast Guard Cutter 101 at Clark's Harbour, about 6 miles away at Cape Sable Island, and it wasn't until 12:30 a.m., Oct. 5, that the Coast Guard finally participated in the search.

In the meantime, Werbicki, at the suggestion of Norm Smith, had called fisherman Bradford Shand in search of a fishing boat to assist in the search.  Shand, in turn, called his friend Lawrence Smith, Norm Smith's uncle.  The Smith and Shand boats were, in fact, tied up together down at the wharf.  Within about 10 minutes, both Smith and Shand arrived at the harbor.  The Mounties and volunteers jumped on the boats and immediately headed out into the sound, the Shand boat a little south of Smith's to cover the maximum area.  Smith headed for a region where he estimated the current would carry an object from the actual crash area. Wilfred Smith turned on the powerful searchlight on his brother's boat and swept the area, looking for either survivors or bodies.

By about 11:45 p.m., or within 25 minutes of the crash, the boats, about 100 feet apart, approached the crash area, and encountered a glittering yellow foam, like shaving cream, about 3 inches thick.  On Shand's boat, young Norm Smith figured the foam to be about 80 feet wide and half a mile long judging by the length of Shand's boat.  It was oily to the touch, but not fuel or engine oil.  Nobody had ever seen anything like it and nobody knew what it was.  Norm Smith did notice rising bubbles in one area as if something had sunk there, and the smell of sulfur.

Four more fishing boats joined the search and criss-crossed the area looking for survivors. Coast Guard Cutter 101 finally arrived at 12:30 a.m.

Lawrence Smith, having overheard information from RCC, began to have serious doubts they were looking for a downed plane.  By 10:20 a.m. the next morning, RCC was explicitly referring to the object as a UFO, having eliminated the possibility of a crashed airplane.

At 4:00 a.m., Oct. 5, the search was temporarily called off so everybody could get some sleep.  Nothing was turned up when the search resumed later the next morning.

On Oct. 6, the Royal Canadian Fleet Diving Unit arrived.  Four divers searched the area suspected to be the impact point.  By the process of elimination, RCMP, RCC, and the Air Desk in Ottawa were all now tagging the object as a UFO.

Milton Crowell, an engineer with the Nova Scotia Light and Power, was on vacation with his family.  While driving nearby, he heard radio reports about the Coast Guard and RCMP searching for a mysterious object falling into Shag Harbour.  When he got to the water between Shag and Woods Harbour, he found some Mounties combing the shores.  They told him point blank that the divers were searching for a flying saucer.  Crowell said they were dead serious, adding something unknown, classified as a UFO, had indeed crashed there, and three of their own officers had seen it floating on the water.  (DO, p. 48)

One local fisherman, Donald Nickerson, reported the divers bringing up aluminum-colored debris from the bottom, but there is no official record of this.  Nickerson's impression was that the divers didn't want the locals around observing what they were doing.

UFO organization APRO (Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization) did confirm, however, that any recovered artifacts were to be shipped to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to the Naval Armament Depot for processing.  According to APRO's preliminary investigation report, "...any recovered artifacts would be turned over to Mr. Maurice 'Mace' Coffey, the unit's scientific consultant.  If anything of extreme interest was found, it would be turned over to the National Research Council."  (DO, p. 49)

By Saturday, Oct. 7, the number of divers increased to seven.  On Monday, Oct. 9, the Canadian Forces Maritime Command called off the search for the UFO.  The official report ended, "Not a trace... not a clue... not a bit of anything." (Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 10/9/67)

The Secret Military Search at Government Point/Shelburne Harbour

The search in Shag Harbour was public knowledge at the time and also backed by various government documents uncovered since then.  But Chris Styles, mostly by chance, also uncovered evidence of a highly secretive search by the U.S. and Canadian military at Shelburne Harbour near Government Point, about 30 miles NE of Shag Harbour.

"Earl," a neighbor of a friend of Styles, had been stationed in 1970 at the Canadian Forces Station, Barrington, on Baccaro Point, site of a radar station.  He was a weapons tech with a top secret clearance, specializing in missile recognition.  Following a personal UFO sighting (balls of light rising from the ocean) on Cape Sable Island, 7 miles west of the Baccaro Radar Station, he broached the subject with his commander, Col. Rushton, also including the Shag Harbour incident.

According to "Earl," Rushton told him NORAD had tracked the Shag Harbour object from the moment it entered the Earth's atmosphere, after a half orbit over Siberia, to the east coast of Canada and the Shag Harbour area.  The military also knew the object had submerged, proceeded out to sea, headed NE up the coast around Cape Sable Island, and came to rest off the mouth of Shelburne Harbour over a magnetic anomaly detection grid feeding into the super-secret sub detection base at Shelburne.

Six or 7 Canadian and American naval ships were anchored over the object and another object that had joined it, possibly to assist the first.  Hydrophones were used to study them and many photographs were taken.  The flotilla left after 7 days, hastily dispatched to challenge a Russian sub.  (DO, pp. 77-79)

In the spring of 1994, Styles also ran into an old friend who had been involved.  "Jim" had been in the Canadian Air Force and an expert in aircraft identification.  He and a team were brought out to the flotilla and told they were camped over an intruding Russian sub.  This story immediately aroused Jim's suspicions.  Why would an Air Force team be brought in to ID submarine parts?  Furthermore, they were kept below deck at all times.  The divers were constantly being reminded not to talk, including by some paranoid American officers.  Nonetheless, one diver in particular, "Harry," started shooting his mouth off after a few drinks.  Harry would say it was no sub down there, and whatever it was and wherever it was from, it certainly wasn't from Moscow.  Just like Earl, Jim said the flotilla was there for a week, then abruptly left at full steam for the open seas. (DO, pp. 72-76)

Styles was already well-aware of the diver "Harry," having spoken to him before in 1993.  In fact, Harry was the first witness to tip off Styles to the Shelburne Harbour search.  Harry had been tracked down through the assistance of an acquaintance of his father's, an instructor with the Fleet Diving Unit, Guy Fenn.  Fenn was able to get the names of the divers involved.  One was dying, two refused to talk, but "Harry" was initially much more cooperative.  Before he stopped talking, Harry, in a personal interview, told Styles and friend Bob MacDonald, assisting Styles, that the ships were there for over a week.  They had located the object using sonar and soundings.  The divers had gone down in pairs and brought up debris, including big chunks of some kind of solid, foam-like material.  Some of it was decomposing while they were bringing it up.  Harry also reluctantly told them that there was no doubt that the object wasn't anything from here. 

In a last phone conversation, Harry refused to talk further and told Styles he would never get the full Shelburne story.  When Styles suggested that maybe what he saw was wrongly identified as a UFO, Harry angrily responded, "I don't know what it was down there and I don't know where it came from.  But it didn't come from this planet." (DO, pp. 67-71)

Some lesser witnesses also knew of something happening in the Shelburne area.  Another military witness was "Terry," a retired Air Force officer, who was an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) specialist attached to the 405 Squadron out of RCAF, Greenwood, Nova Scotia.  He was receiving special training in Port Hawksbury, N.S., when he was suddenly ordered to fly special missions from Maine to Shelburne, dropping sonar buoys.  The missions lasted 7 days, then suddenly stopped.  Once when the crews were joking with one another, they were harshly ordered not to discuss dropping the sonar equipment with anyone and to keep their mouths shut.  Terry said he had never seen missions handled in such a heavy-handed manner, even though they routinely intercepted Russian subs.  It was also highly unusual for the Canadian Air Force and the air force of the American Navy to interact as they did, the regular conventions concerning American/Canadian border incursions being set aside.  (DO, p. 80-81)

Terry's wife happened to live in Shelburne at the time of the Shag Harbour incident and remembered it well.  Her father was involved with the armed forces, and she mentioned they had quarantined Shelburne Base and blocked the road to Government Point.  The military was checking cars as they went through.  (DO, p. 81)

Another witness, who Styles met by chance, told a very similar story.  As a boy he remembered the military blocking the road to Government Point, letting only the locals through.  From Government Point one could look over a two-mile stretch of water where the flotilla of ships would have been anchored.  (DO, p. 76)

Not all military witnesses claimed to know something.  Chris Styles also interviewed Squadron Leader Major William Bain, chief of the Royal Canadian Air Force Air Desk in Ottawa.  Back then the Air Desk was the clearing house for UFO reports for the Royal Canadian Air Force and federal government.  Bain's name was on several of the documents that Styles had uncovered.  Bain said he was aware of the recovery effort at Shag Harbour, but claimed no knowledge of the Shelburne recovery off Government Point.  Bain admitted that Styles' evidence could make someone justifiably suspicious.  He added that any recovery could have been coordinated and perhaps covered up by the Navy and NORAD. (DO, p. 99)

A very uncooperative military witness was Major Victor Eldridge.  In Oct. 1967 he was the base administrative officer at Baccaro, a NORAD radar facility near Shelburne.  Eldridge claimed to have zero knowledge or memory of the Shag Harbour crash.  Styles reminded him that Baccaro base would have been one of the staging areas for the publicized recovery effort at Shag Harbour, so he must have known quite a bit.  Eldridge said he would like to help but couldn't.  Then he tried to ridicule Style's efforts, suggesting there wasn't anything of substance.  To this Styles retorted that was a strong opinion for someone claiming to have no memory or knowledge of the events.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Strange Story

The man on duty at the Cape Roseway lighthouse on the night of Oct. 4, 1967 was finally located.  The lighthouse was only 2-1/2 miles across the water of Shelburne Harbour from the sub tracking base at Government Point and would have an excellent vantage point of the reported recovery area there.

Barry Crowell, however, didn't remember seeing any ships, perhaps because of the common low-lying fog there.  However, on the night of Oct. 4, just before midnight (or only about half an hour after the crash at Shag Harbour), something very strange did happen.  Walking to the lighthouse with the keeper he was about to relieve, Brenton Reynolds, he saw 3 flares suddenly appear, lighting up the area.  Coming ashore, in some distress, was a rubber Zodiac boat.  They found some very frightened men dressed in dark military garb.  They spoke with British accents.  The men were soaked and their leader explained this was a mock commando raid.  They were to secure the lighthouse, hold the island, and control lighthouse operations and radio traffic.  They had come from a submarine.

For the next 2 or 3 days, the "commandos" were supplied from the air by helicopters.  A small plane circulated over the area constantly for several days.  Crowell thought the men were not real commandos since they seemed so poorly trained.  He guessed that maybe they were part of a NATO exercise.

Styles did locate records showing that Canada had just purchased 3 subs from the U. K.  The first one was to arrive in Halifax on Oct. 4 or 5.  But it was diverted to Shelburne Harbour instead.  With the exception of 3 Canadians, the crew was British.

The whole exercise seemed bizarre.  But the coincidence of the timing with the Shag Harbour crash seemed remarkable, leading the authors to speculate there might be a connection, perhaps the badly trained "commandos" going on shore to look for survivors.  (DO, pp. 151-157)

The 1967 Shag Harbour UFO crash, Part 4
Searches for crash object, public and secret