The U.S. Navy is searching for the operator of a drone that has been seen flying near a Washington state naval base at night since Feb. 8.
A civilian employee of Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor reported seen the drone, spokeswoman Silvia Klatman told Military.com. According to the Navy, it is illegal to operate a drone above the base without the permission of the Navy.
"It's our intent to support the investigation and prosecution of this reported act, and any others that may occur, in coordination with civilian law enforcement," Klatman said.
Military.com reported that agents interviewed families who lived in houses surrounding the base. They said they haven’t seen anything unusual. Officials said the drones were seen operating at night.
“It could be a hoax, but worst-case scenario, it could be clandestine, a foreign government, a cell” Al Starcevich, whose family’s house is located between the base and Hood Canal in Washington,” told the website. “The creepy thing is they’re only doing it at night. What are you going to see at night unless you have an infrared camera?”
Starcevich told The Seattle Times that agents told him there had been repeated incidents around the base involving an alleged drone.
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor’s airspace was designated as “prohibited” by the FAA in May 2005, at the request of the Navy. No aircraft of any kind is allowed to fly over the area up 2,500 feet. The prohibited area extends to the water across Hood Canal and the Navy-owned portion of Toandos Peninusla.
Doug O’Donnell, chief pilot at Avian Flight Center at Bremerton National Airport, said security forces are supposed to shoot down aircraft that violate the FAA rules.
The Bangor base houses eight of the Navy’s 14 ballistic-missile submarines, according to Military.com. Each can carry up to 24 missiles with multiple nuclear warheads.
The Defense Department has held countless classified exercises to counter possible drone attacks, The Seattle Times reported. Last year, one exercise included a Marine sniper shooting one down from a military helicopter.