Did USS Trepang Capture Authentic UFO Photos in 1971?

Did USS Trepang Capture Authentic UFO Photos in 1971?

The Submarine came upon the object by “accident,” as they were in the region on a routine joint military and scientific expedition. Officer John Klika was the one who initially spotted the object with the periscope.

July 6, 2015 – (Source: The Black Vault)

Case File Information

Date of Event / Case File: 03/01/1971

Case File Details


The following case was submitted by Investigator/Researcher Alex Mistretta, who can be contacted at: mistretta1020@gmail.com.

He has graciously allowed the following photographs, and his research, to be archived here on The Black Vault for reference.

Please add your comments and input in the comments section below.

As more information becomes available, it will be added to this case file.


by Alex Mistretta

This got started when I heard from one of my sources in Europe that some pictures that I might want to take a look at were making the rounds. 

These turned out to be the pictures that a French Paranormal magazine called Top Secret published. They claimed that they received them from an anonymous source. That is all they have have said publicly so far.

Top Secret source and mine are unrelated. I made connections in the intelligence community in Europe years ago in a project unrelated to UFOs. It was for the Congo’s Mokele-mbembe project that I was working on. They have always been reliable, but you know how these things go, you never really know. 

I have used them on information based on Russian UFOs in the past, and they have been very reliable with that.

I’m obviously trying to directly get access to Top Secret‘s original source, so we’ll see. By the way, feel free to contact them yourself or anyone that you feel can help. 

Obviously, I want to stay on point with this, and be part of whatever comes out in this case, but the important thing is to get to the truth, and “The Black Vault” name is extremely well respected and that can very much help.

Arctic UFO Photographs, USS Trepang, SSN 674, March 1971

Here is what we know so far. The original anonymous source claims that these:

1) The photos were taken from a United State Navy submarine.

2) The location was between Iceland and Jan Mayen island in the Atlantic Ocean. (Jan Mayen belongs to Norway, and is only inhabited by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian military.)

3) They were taken in March of 1971.

4) The Submarine was the Navy’s USS Trepang (SSN 674) and the Admiral on board was Dean Reynolds Sackett. Obviously, the next step is to try and locate this Admiral Dean Reynolds, if he exists.

5) The Submarine came upon the object by “accident,” as they were in the region on a routine joint military and scientific expedition. Officer John Klika was the one who initially spotted the object with the periscope.

This obviously implies that it wasn’t ours, and unfortunately doesn’t explain the different objects seen in the pictures.

Top Secret claims that on one of the pictures, there were some inscriptions. I don’t have a version of this, and it is too faint to see on these photographs.

Upper left it says “Official Photograph. Not to be Released. CT.”

In the bottom right corner it says (sic) “Unauthorized Disclosure Subject. Security Certificat SSN 674. Criminal Sanction”

I cannot confirm these at the moment, and I don’t know if the spelling of Certificat is just a reproduction error, since these were revealed in their magazine.

This is all I have so far, and I’ll keep sending you whatever additional info I have. 

Photo Gallery of High Resolution, Full Page Scans

The original photo gallery is still below, to archive what originally circulated. However, the original scans, in high resolution, have been posted online.  Below, you can find the original scans, thanks to Reddit user SquizCat. The translations were created by Reddit user hillside. Thanks to both users for bringing these to the forefront of the investigation.

They appear in the order they were published in the magazine, for easier reading.

Original Photo Gallery

Word from the Admiral

On July 8, 2015, investigator and former Navy pilot, Steve Murillo was asked to make a phone call (by request of Alex Mistretta) to Admiral Sackett. In respect to the Admiral, the means to track him down are not going to be published so he is not inundated with calls but he was located. (We please ask, there are researchers currently corresponding with him, and we would prefer that no one track him down to ask for additional answers as this unfolds.)  The following is the update from Mr. Mistretta:

I asked Steve Murillo, head of UPARS, to speak with Admiral Dean R Sackett this morning. Steve is a former Navy pilot. Admiral Sackett was gracious enough to take the call, but steered away from the UFO question. Admiral Dean R Sackett said “I only saw Ice”. He did agree to check out the pictures though email however, so we will see. This obviously doesn’t prove anything in either direction. These could certainly be a hoax, or these are the real deal and Admiral Sackett is sticking to his security oath. Which incidentally, if that’s the case, he has every right to do. Or these pictures are the real deal, and have no relationship with the Trepang submarine USS 674. There were apparently another sub in the region around the same time. I’ll put up that info as I progress in this investigation. Thank you John Greenewald, Steve Murillo, and also Richard Carlson for some valuable assistance, by the way.

The Black Vault’s Fact Checking

by John Greenewald, Jr.

When I first read about these photographs, I was very intrigued. I felt they needed a closer investigation, and Alex has been doing a great job pursuing the truth, whatever it may be, behind them. Although his investigation is ongoing, I wanted to add some independent points of clarification and verification to the story above. I was very happy to see many of the facts did pan out, which means if it is a hoax, whoever did it definitely thought it out before hand.

Rear Admiral Dean Reynolds Sackett – FACT

Rear Admiral Dean Reynolds Sackett, Jr

The inclusion of Rear Admiral Sackett in the story seems to pan out. He commissioned the USS Trepang. According to NavSource online:

Rear Admiral Dean Reynolds Sackett, Jr comes from Beatrice, Nebraska where he grew up and attended high school. In 1952, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating with distinction in 1956. He also received a Master of Science Degree in Engineering from George Washington University. He completed a full career of 34.5 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 1991 as a Rear Admiral. His assignments included tours in destroyers and nuclear submarines in the Navy’s nuclear power program. He commissioned, as Commanding Officer, the Trepang (SSN-674) [14 August 1970 to 7 December 1973]. He also served as Commanding Officer of the Howard W. Gilmore (AS-16) [11 June 1976 to 15 May 1978], a nuclear capable repair ship.


Location of USS Trepang – FACT

After searching around a bit, I was able to verify that the USS Trepang, as indicated being between Iceland and Jan Mayen Island, was in fact, in the region at the time. As verified by Hullnumber, which chronicles the location of naval vessels:

Following local operations out of New London, Conn., Trepang proceeded to the Arctic early in 1971. From 22 February to 22 March, the nuclear attack submarine operated beneath the northern ice cap, conducting extensive tests to provide data for her weapons systems, as well as carrying out scientific experiments concerning the movement, composition, and geological history of the cap itself.

Shipmate John Klika – FACT

I can also confirm, there was a shipmate by the name of John Klika on the USS Trepang as well. According to the ship roster, also on Hullnumber, you will find:

Ship mate John Klika is confirmed to have been on the ship's roster.

Possible Explanations

NAVY Target Practice / Weapons Systems Test

When I first saw these, I noted there was something very Zeppelin-like about some of the photos, but, unlike the actual Zeppelin’s, it did not have a carrier for the occupants.

However, after some research, it is possible these were naval target balloons, and the USS Trepang was conducting a weapons test of some kind.  As indicated and referenced/sourced above, “From 22 February to 22 March [1971], the nuclear attack submarine operated beneath the northern ice cap, conducting extensive tests to provide data for her weapons systems, as well as carrying out scientific experiments concerning the movement, composition, and geological history of the cap itself.”

I searched the Library of Congress, and came up with a few examples of Balloon Carriers. They do have a resemblance. Here are the examples (it should be noted that the balloons in these photographs were photographed between 1910-1915… a considerable time difference between this case and these photographs. Could the same technology have been used more than 50 years later?):

It is possible that the object(s) in the photos above, are a type of weapons system test target, and the photographs are of the results of their shoot down.

While looking at the high resolution version of the photos, you can see the definitely indicators of the Periscope. For example, this photograph (unrelated to this case, but used as an example):

  Mercuur seen through the periscope of  Dolfijn. Norway, between 5 and 7 Apr 2003. As most periscope shots this photo is taking with a standard digital camera which is held in front of the eye piece of the scope. (Photo: © Official Dolfijn website).

You can clearly see in the “UFO Photos” above, the ‘cross hairs’ of the periscope, along with the indicator lines. Here is an example above, and they are seen in nearly every photograph. Although this does not prove it was a weapons test, and the object was a target balloon, it could support both sides of this story (ie: taken from a submarine, and taken while the submarine was submerged.)

You can clearly see the periscope indicators and 'crosshairs' in the photographs.

About the USS Trepang

USS Trepang (SSN-674) entering Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine.

According to Wikipedia:

USS Trepang (SSN-674), a Sturgeon-class attack submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the trepang, Holothuroidea, a marine animal having a long, tough, muscular body, sometimes called a ‘sea slug’ or a ‘sea cucumber’, found on coral reefs.

The contract to build Trepang was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, on 15 July 1966 and her keel was laid down there on 28 October 1967. She was launched on 27 September 1969, sponsored by Mrs. Melvin R. Laird, the wife of United States Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird, and commissioned on 14 August 1970 with Commander Dean R. Sackett, Jr., in command.

Trepang was decommissioned on 1 June 1999 at Bremerton, Washington, and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. Her scrapping via the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton was completed on 7 April 2000. Components of ‘Trepang’, including mess tables, crew bunks, and engineering, were used in the “Fast Attacks and Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War” exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History from 2000-2003. 

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