The Maury Island Incident

Maury Island Incident FBI report
A segment of the now declassified FBI report on Harold Dahl, Fred Crisman and the flying saucers reported over Maury Island.

Six UFOs are sighted over Puget Sound, Washington


On 21st June 1947, during the same month of the infamous Roswell incident, two unofficial harbour patrolman, Harold Dahl and his son, were salvaging wood from the Puget Sound in Washington state when they noticed something strange in the sky.

High above them were five saucer-shaped aircraft, made from reflective material, circling around a sixth unidentified flying object of the same description. All six objects were described as being doughnut shaped and about one hundred feet in diameter. Dahl also claimed that he saw round portholes on the objects, and what he thought was an observation window.

Slowly, the sixth object descended over the men’s boat, and stopped an estimated 500 feet above the water. Fearing that the saucer was about to crash into them, Dahl and his son moved their boat onto the shore of nearby Maury Island.

The Maury Island Incident Puget Sound
The Puget Sound region in Washington, as captured by MODIS sensor on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites on July 19, 2003. (Image source: Public Domain)

Once safely on shore, Dahl took several photographs of the six unidentified flying objects. As he did this, one of the aircraft, which had been circling above, had begun to descend. It hovered over the sixth object, which the men had moved to avoid, for several minutes, until, all of a sudden, a loud thud was heard and and thousands of pieces of lightweight, white and dark material sprayed out from the craft. Dahl estimated that around twenty tons of the dark material was dropped by the ship. This material was hot, with Dahl and his son seeing steam rising from the waters of the sound where they fell. Most of the debris landed in the water, however a piece burned Dahl’s son’s arm and another hit and killed their dog.

Dahl rushed his son to the hospital for treatment, and told his supervisor, Fred Crisman, about what had happened. Crisman did not believe Dahl, and since the negatives of the photographs Dahl had taken had been damaged during the incident, there was no visual proof to convince him. Regardless, Crisman went to the shores of Maury Island to collect samples of the material Dahl described. The material was found to be metallic, some white and lightweight, and the rest looking like lava rock. Whilst collectiing samples, Crisman claimed that he too witnessed a UFO. 1

Harold Dahl is visited by a man in black

Dahl claimed that, the morning after seeing the UFOs, a man dressed in a black suit appeared at his doorstep. The stranger suggested they go eat breakfast together, so Dahl drove his own car, following the other man’s new black Buick to a restaurant.

While they ate, the stranger asked no questions. Instead, he gave a detailed account of what had happened to Dahl the previous day. It was then that the man in black told Dahl not to disclose anything of what he had seen, or bad things would happen to him and his family.


Far from heeding the strange man’s warning, Dahl spoke out about the incident, and told UFO investigators all that had happened, even sending them samples of the material he and Crisman had collected. Yet, just as the man in black had warned, this placed his family in danger. Dahl claimed that, after he spoke out, his son disappeared. He was supposedly found one week later in Montana waiting tables, with no recollection of how he got there.

Government officials question Dahl and Crisman

With interest in the case high, the UFO investigators invited two air force officials to question Dahl and Crisman, in order to understand what they had seen.

After questioning, two different versions of the story emerged. In one, the air force officials noted there might be something of interest in the material Dahl and Crisman had collected. In another, the officials immediately lost interest, dismissing the material as aluminium. However, both versions end in the two officers perishing in a plane crash on their way back to their stations – taking whatever secrets they possessed to the grave. Again, here the events differ depending on whose testimony you believe: the official report stated that the plane went down due to an engine failure, whilst people at the time in the area reported hearing anti-aircraft guns. Many were left wondering if the air force officials had been silenced to conceal their findings after meeting with Dahl.

Since the publicity around the incident roused suspicions of sabotage, the FBI became involved. Another USAF investigator was dispatched, this time to examine Maury island. His report concluded that the strange material Dahl and his son encountered was not so strange at all, but merely slag, stoney byproduct from a metal smelter. The FBI concurred with this conclusion, and threatened to prosecute Dahl and Crisman for fraud if they did not drop their story and admit it to be a hoax. According to the FBI’s report, the pair had the “hope of building up their story through publicity to a point where they could make a profitable deal with a fantasy magazine.”

The Maury Island Incident FBI report
A segment of the FBI’s now declassified report, which clarifies that Harold Dahl refused to admit that his claims were a hoax, instead stating he would only say it was a hoax if questioned by authorities.
Read the declassified FBI report on the Maury Island Incident

Faced with the possibility of legal action being taken against him, Dahl did as the FBI asked, but was careful in his wording, stating that “if questioned by authorities he was going to say it was a hoax because he did not want any further trouble over the matter.” 2

After that, Crisman came out multiple times affirming that the story was real and that he did indeed see a UFO. However, as he got older his opinion changed, believing that the incident did not involve extraterrestrials, but instead illegal dumping by the military. 3

Understandably, the Maury Island Incident has stirred up much controversy over the years. Many believe the FBI’s conclusion of it being a hoax, with others certain that it was a cover up of extraterrestrial activity, pointing to the ominous appearance of the man in black the day after the original incident and the bizarre disappearance of Dahl’s son.

The Maury Island Incident’s legacy

On Tuesday 18th April, 2017, the Washington State Senate paused to recognise The Maury Island Incident’s 70th anniversary year by passing Resolution #8648. During a speech by Senator Sharon Nelsen, who lives on Maury Island, it was revealed that, far from being over in 1947, the Maury Island UFO phenomena continued, with another Senator having allegedly sighted a UFO over the island when he was fourteen years old.

“The incidents continue, they continue, and we have to consider that there is potential cosmic life over Maury Island. The island is famous, and for those of you who have not visited it, I would invite you – it’s a very special place, with a cosmic presence.” – Senator Sharon Nelsen


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About Erik Rowton 61 Articles
A life-long dabbler in the paranormal, Erik researches other-worldly phenomena to sate his curiosity. A habitual fence-sitter, he is of the opinion that only through science can the reality of the paranormal be confirmed. Some of Erik's main interests are demonic possession, occult groups and the possibility of parallel dimensions.