Crew of Loellen/M encountered Electromagnetic USO in 1964

While revisiting early Australian UFO files QUFOSR stumbled across an official report submitted to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from the crew of the Landing Craft “Loellen/M”. The craft was still at sea when the report was received and the RAAF stated that the crew of the vessel would be interviewed upon their return. They also noted that all further information would be dispatched to the RAAF headquarters as soon as it was available. To date it appears no follow up interviews or other relevant information is available in the declassified Australian UFO files.


The unusual incident occurred in between Cape Crey and Groote Island in the Northern Territory on the 23 January 1964.  The report compiled by Captain J. Johnson and A. Scott states that a crew of men ultimately witnessed lights below the surface of the ocean that maneuvered around their barge and caused an electromagnetic disturbance to the on-board compass. Below is a full breakdown of the events along with the relevant files and resources.


From 2100hrs (9:00PM) 22 January 1964

Captain J. Johnson of the Carrier Craft Loellen/M was on wheel watch.

C. J Wooler was on engine room watch.

J. R Davies reported when changing watch that he found difficulty in steering a straight course by the compass.

A.A Scott took the wheel and found the compass was unsteady, however, he passed it off as he being overtired and steered by the stars.

From 2400hrs (12:00AM) 23 January 1964

Captain J. Johnson relieved A. Scott at 2400hrs.

From 0045hrs (12:45AM) 23 January 1964

At approximately 0045 hrs the compass swung 90° off course. At the time J. Johnson was steering by a star.

The compass swing later became greater.

From 0140hrs (1:40AM) 23 January 1964

Captain J. Johnson sighted a light extending right across the bow (most forward point of boat) on the horizon. He handed the wheel over to C. Wooler and went to Monkey Island (highest accessible height on the boat) to have a better look.

Captain J. Johnson then came down to the wheel house and told C. Wooler to have a look.

C. Wooler turned out the compass light and saw a glow on the horizon. Both J. Johnson and C. Wooler could see under and over the light patch.

C. Wooler turned on the compass light and found the vessel approx 60 degrees off course.

The compass went Haywire as soon as he had corrected the vessel as best he could. He switched off the compass light and found the un-natural light was about 6ft on the Starboard side (right-hand side facing forward).

The light was in the water. It was described as a ghostly white light, in the center was a shadow which rotated in a clockwise direction causing the light to pulsate. The light appeared to draw away to the stern. It is estimated that it was miles across and a few hundred yards through.

Captain J. Johnson saw another light patch coming. He immediately woke A. Scott. The light was coming straight at the barge at a considerable speed.

Henry Bak was woken up. Captain J. Johnson was steering by compass.

As the light, which was pulsating, came close, the barge swung away to Starboard through 90 degrees.

J. Davies was then woken up.

The light on the water passed about 100 yards to port. As the barge began to return to course, another light was seen coming at the barge at an angle of about 45° which the Bow. It came to whithin inches or the starboard side and appeared to rebound at 45° with the stern and moved away. It disappeared in a few seconds.

The second light appeared to be about 400 yds long by 100 yds wide, and the third light slightly smaller.

Three more patches appeared on our starboard side and passed in a few seconds. These patches were quite small. The light passed at approx. 0230 hrs.

From 0230hrs (2:30AM) 23 January 1964

At approx 030 the compass settled down and we had no further trouble.

Faint glows were seen on the horizon until 0245 hours.


Description of lights and other details

‘All lights were the same colour, with this strange rotating shadow, causing the lights to pulsate. The pulsations timed at 12 for 9 seconds, then completely irregular, then settled down to 12 for 9 seconds.’

‘The compass swung out of control, but became worse as the light approached. All members of the crew who were off duty were sleeping on deck. The moon had set and the sky was scattered with light clouds. A thunderstorm was over the horizon to the North East and a squall on the horizon to the South West. Course steered 205° true.

Files and resources

QUFOSR had the fortune of tracking down a digital scan of the exact map the Loellen-M would have used in 1964, click here to view it or find the link below. QUFOSR has only edited the map so that Cape Grey is now marked as a reference point.

RAAF cover letter for Loellen/M report – Airforce_letter

Report RAAF received from crew of Loellen/M – UFO_loellen_M1

Report RAAF received from crew of Loellen/M – UFO_loellen_M2

Naval Officer response REPORT OF MAGNETIC DISTURBANCE AND LOCAL ACTIVITY – loellenm_letter

Copy of map Loellen/M would have used in 1964 (Cape Grey located by QUFOSR) – map used by loellen-m