HMS Shetland in Close Encounter?

Report from Tim Matthews

Lancashire UFO Society was contacted by the Red Rose Radio chat-show host Tony Newman on Friday 10th October regarding 35 phone calls received from listeners relating to UFO sightings over the Lancashire Coast the previous night. Tony is known for his interest in UFOs and LUFOS has built up a good relationship with him as a result of detailed investigations, our reputation as sensible researchers and our grass roots activism.

Two of the calls received on the Thursday phone-in programme were from HMS Shetland. The young man dealing with all the calls for Newman could only remember that it was "HMS Sh" - it was his first night on the job by all accounts! Baptism by fire no doubt!

The caller insisted that a large UFO with a bright light was approaching the ship which was operating off the Lancashire Coast at the time, possibly in relation to the Conservative Party Conference at Blackpool.

Eric Morris of the British UFO Studies Centre (in the Navy from 1970-1985), who has just formed the Northern Federation of Independent Ufologists with Lancashire UFO Society and the Pendle, Hyndburn UFO Group and other independent researchers, immediately contacted "Navy News" to see whether the they or the MOD could confirm any of these details. "Navy News" phoned the MOD.

A woman from the MOD phoned 15 minutes later to confirm to Eric that HMS Shetland, a new 60 metre ship with sloped funnels, pennant number (P) 298 was indeed off the Lancashire Coast at the time.

(Tim Matthews and Rory Lushman were witnesses to the conversation.)

Has an incident involving HMS Shetland and a UFO taken place? The implication are enormous if it has......

Calls to Blackpool Airport, Coastguard, operators of Laser light shows etc etc have not borne fruit.

The last week has seen unprecedented UFO activity with "unbelievable" video footage being filmed in East Anglia, sightings in Southern England reported to us as well our phone calls relating to anomalous lights and "spinning discs" in the Blackpool, Bamber Bridge, Burnley, Southport and Crosby areas of the North West.

Once again our groups have been at the forefront of investigations. Our focus has as usual been upon details and upon correct reporting procedures.

This is an example to everyone. We recently formed the National Campaign Against UFO Secrecy, a moderate though active campaign calling for the release of all government-held UFO documents. The Campaign has already been joined by 9 groups and received the support of top researcher Nick Redfern, whose new book on the subject of government UFO investigations entitled "A Covert Agenda" is on sale now.

In addition, we have received coverage in many local newspapers, on the radio and on TV. Let us hope that the whole movement can pull together on the question of secrecy at least.

And let us hope that witness confidentiality will be respected. At a time when it was hoped that the problem of UFO researchers giving names of witnesses to journalists had been sorted out, we learn to our horror that a "respected" welsh ufologist has given personal details of "Close Encounter" witness to a reporter. This kind of thing must be stamped out.

Unless we get a grip, start to follow a basic code of practice (as laid down by BUFORA for instance) and follow a strict methodology we will forever be written off as alien cultists more concerned with belief not fact.

If our groups can work together then so can others. Not only have we agreed to standardize our reporting procedures but also to abandon our separate group magazines in order to produce a joint effort entitled "UFO NEWS".

It should be remembered that another one of our cases from November 1996 related to a cargo aircraft flying from Belfast Aldergrove Airport (callsign "Gemstone 904") to Coventry which encountered a UFO over the Lancashire Coast. This meant that the plane had to change course. The conversation between the aircraft and Manchester ATC was recorded by a amateur radio ham.

(One thing we know for sure - advanced prototypes are being tested off the Lancashire Coast. Covert military activity is undoubtedly responsible for many reports - but not all.)

We hope to hear from you soon. Sensible suggestions/reports/news welcome!

Follow-up report

"After appearing on the Tony Newman show on Red Rose Radio 999MW last Monday 13th October for a whole three hours we received another 30 reports, some of which have already led to interview with witnesses.

Three people who claim to have come into contact with the light phenomenon reported two hours of missing time. One witness with whom I have made contact seems very genuine.

We have more details of the events of last Thursday night/Friday morning and the investigations team includes myself, Gloria Dixon (BUFORA), Eric Morris and Rory Lushman.

Interestingly, we received information about a 1977 saucer sighting over Southlands School, Chorley, Lancs, where 400 pupils saw a metallic structured craft hovering over the school buildings. These events are confirmed by former pupils and the local press. This deserves the fullest investigation.

I have written to MPs and the MOD but may have to wait some time for a reply."

This report is featured in UFO Roundup Vol.2 No.40

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