An Armed Forces source initially identified vessels as belonging to Mexican Navy.
DANA POINT — Our July 28-Aug. 10 issue featured two photos of unidentified military vessels visiting Dana Point Harbor. The Log took it upon itself to discover the agency affiliated with the two stealth boats. A few days of emails and phone calls to a variety of sources mostly yielded dead ends, but one source at the U.S. Coast Guard unequivocally informed The Log the two vessels in question belonged to the Mexican Navy.
The Log received a handful of emails and messages shortly after the printed article (and its photos) were posted online, Aug. 1. The messages challenged the accuracy of our reporting – an important and necessary element of fair and honest journalism. Also questioning our reporting was O.C. Register, who, in a story published online Aug. 3, stated the visiting military vessels actually belonged to the U.S. Navy.
A source with the Naval Special Warfare Command confirmed, in an Aug. 4 telephone conversation with The Log, the visiting vessels were SWCC – or special warfare combatant-craft crewmen – boats.
What follows, in the spirit of transparency and honesty, is a timeline of The Log’s reporting, including direct quotes from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, O.C. Sheriff’s Department and O.C. Parks.
- July 12: The Log received an email with several photos of military vessels in Dana Point Harbor. The author of the emails asked: “New Homeland Security immigration enforcement boats? Or maybe military?”
- July 17: The Log reached out to O.C. Parks, which manages Dana Point Harbor, to ask about the military vessels. The department’s public information officer replied, “Apparently staff down there saw the boats too, but weren’t notified about anything and don’t know who they were. Did you check with OCSD Harbor Patrol to see if they know?”
- July 18: The Log reached out to a sergeant with O.C. Harbor Patrol’s Marine Bureau Operations in Dana Point.
- July 19: “Sorry Parimal, I don’t recognize them,” the Harbor Patrol sergeant replied via email.
- July 19: The Log, upon receiving the sergeant’s reply, reached out to a public information officer within the Navy’s Orange County operations.
- July 19: “Sorry, but I do not have any information about Navy vessels in Dana Point Harbor,” the Navy’s public information officer stated in his email reply.
- July 19: The Log emailed a source at the U.S. Coast Guard, asking whether the vessels belonged to them.
- July 19: The Coast Guard replies to The Log with the following statement: “My knowledgeable source has informed me that the vessels pictured in Dana Point Harbor are not US Coast Guard, but US Navy” [Emphasis not added.]
- July 20: The same Coast Guard contact emailed The Log, withdrawing her previous response and stating the vessels belonged to the Mexican Navy. Her reply: “My source now tells me that the vessels photographed in Dana Point Harbor were from the Mexican Navy (Marina Mexicana). I am informed that the Mexican Navy often works with the US Navy in places like DP Harbor and have even come as far north as the USCG Base in San Pedro. What I told you yesterday still stands true that this was a Navy operation, but one in which the Mexican Navy collaborated with the USN.”
- 3: O.C. Register publishes story, stating vessels in question were actually part of the U.S. Navy.
- 4: The Log reaches out to original sources, plus Mexican Navy and U.S. Navy SEALS, in an attempt to clarify previous coverage.
- 4: Naval Special Warfare Command official confirms boats spotted in Dana Point Harbor were SWCC vessels.
Attempts to reach the Mexican Navy for confirmation or denial were unsuccessful. The Log also followed-up with the Coast Guard source that first stated the two vessels belonged to the U.S. Navy (but later updated her comments). She replied she would look into the matter, but did not reply back to The Log before press time.
The Log appreciates your patience and understanding. Our reporting has always been – and will continue to be – based on diligently informing our readers what public officials, industry leaders and interested parties are publicly stating.
Justin Zumwalt photo