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THE ALMIRANTE SALDANHA
Source: Hynek, J. Allen . The Hynek UFO Report . Dell Publishing Corp. 1977.
"One of the most highly celebrated and controversial series of photos in the Blue Book files are those taken by an official photographer aboard the Brazilian Navy survey ship, Almirante Saldanha, off Trindade Island, some 600 miles east of Rio De Janeiro.
The Blue Book reporting officer's concluding statement makes a mockery of the case: "It is the reporting officer's private opinion that a flying saucer sighting would be unlikely at the very barren island of Trindade as everyone knows Martians are extremely comfort-loving creatures."
Other comments by the same officer were filled with ridicule of the Brazilian government and its military. Frankly, I was astonished that these disparaging statements were not edited by the Air Force prior to their release. Such bias and flippancy have no place in scientific investigations.
Because this case has received so much attention over the years, and has been the subject of so much controversy, the full office of Naval Intelligence Information Report from the U.S. Naval Attaché at Rio to Project Blue Book follows:"
Date of Information: 21-27 Feb 1958
Serial No: 39-58
Date of Report: 11 March 1958
From: U.S. Naval Attaché, Rio de Janeiro
BRAZIL-Navy-Flying Saucer Photographed from ALMIRANTE SALDANHA
Encl: (1) Set of 4 Brazilian Navy photographs of subject.
1. Announcement. On 21 February, two of the leading newspapers in Rio de Janeiro printed photographs showing alleged flying saucer photographed from Brazilian naval ship, ALMIRANTE SALDANHA, at approximately midday on 16 January 1958 while the ship was anchored off Trindade Island some 600 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. The ship at the time was engaged in research as part of Brazilian Navy participation in the International Geophysical Year.
2. Photographer. The photographs themselves were taken by a freelance (?) photographer, Almiro Baruna, using his Rolleiflex camera set at speed 125., lens opening 8, and were developed in a laboratory in ALMIRANTE SALDANHA. This gentleman has a long history of photographic trick shots and is well known for such items as false pictures of treasure on the ocean floor. Another time he prepared a purposely humorous article, published in a magazine, entitled "A Flying Saucer Hunted Me at Home," using trick photography. Baruna, after the release of his latest "flying saucer" photographs, told the press that the Navy secret service had interrogated him for four hours concerning his photos. "The negatives were projected in large size on a screen. If there were any trick, the gigantic projection would have revealed it. After questioning by officers of the Estado-Maior, the Chief of the secret Service, the senior officer present said to me, 'I am going to ask you a few questions. Don't be offended because I don't doubt the authenticity of your photos but I need to hear from you. If you were going to make a flying saucer appear on a negative, how would you proceed?' 'Commandante, I am an able photographer specialized in trick photography but not one would withstand close and accurate examination.'"
3. Brazilian Navy Stand. Immediately after the photographs of the flying saucer were publicized, the Brazilian Navy refused to make any official statement confirming or denying the incident. However, proofs from the original negatives were sent to the other armed forces and the President via an officer-messenger who related the complete story. According to the press, the narration so impressed Mr. Kubichek that he became convinced of the veracity of the happening.
On 24 February, three days after the photos were first publicized in the press, the Navy Ministry finally made an official statement: "With reference to the reports appearing in the press that the Navy is opposed to divulge the facts concerning the appearance of a strange object over Trindade Island, this Cabinet declares that such information has no basis. The Ministry has no motive to impede the release of photographs of the referred to object taken by _______ who was at Trindade Island at the invitation of the Navy, and in the presence of a large number of the crew of ALMIRANTE SALDANHA from whose deck the photographs were taken. Clearly, this Ministry will not be able to make any pronouncement concerning the object seen because the photographs do not constitute sufficient proof for such purpose."
4. Statements of SALDANHA Personnel. On the morning after the photos of the flying saucer were published in the press (February 22), the ALMIRANTE SALDANHA departed Rio to continue its mission in connection with the IGY. Two days later, however, the ship docked at Santos (February 24) for voyage repairs and this was the first chance that newspapermen had an opportunity to interview officers and men aboard. The Assistant Naval Attaché was in Santos at this time in connection with the visit of USCGS WESTWIND (Aluena Rio IR 36-58 of 10 March) and and had an opportunity to visit aboard. The commanding officer, Capitao-de-Mar-e-Guerra (CAPT) Jose Santos Saldanha de Gama, had not seen the object and was noncommittal. The executive officer also had not seen it but, arriving shortly thereafter, had formed the opinion that those on deck had seen it. The captain had reported that his secretary, a LCDR, had seen it but this officer when personally questioned avoided discussing the matter. Later, it was learned that the photographer was accompanied to the darkroom by an officer who waited outside the door while Baruna developed the negative alone.
At the time of the official visit of the commanding officer of WESTWIND to ALMIRANTE SALDANHA, Capt. Saldanha de Gama freely discussed the flying saucer and showed the original proofs to the callers but again did not commit himself.
5. Publicity. The press reports after the publication of the photographs covered a great deal of newspaper space for about a week, tending to prove or disprove the authenticity of Baruna's photographs. DIARIO CARICCA reported that personnel of SALDANHA were under rigid orders of silence. O GLOBO published a story with photographs by photographer _________ of flying saucers (China) taken at Cabo Frio.
Federal Deputy Sergio Magalhaws sent a note to the Navy Ministry on 27 February protesting the Navy's failure to secure sworn statements of witness. "For the first time in flying saucer history, the phenomenon was attended by large numbers of persons belonging to a military force which give these latest photographs an official stamp. Threats to national security require official attention and action," said the Deputy. In the middle of all the publicity, other "flying saucer" sighting reports came out including a naval officer who saw a flying saucer a month before sighting from SALDANHA off the coast of Espirito Santo. CO and crew of ATA TRIDENTE said flying saucer several days before SALDANHA sighting but kept information secret.
Preparing Officer's Comments:
1. Most flying saucer stories are not worth wasting much time or effort, but this story apparently substantiated by official Navy photographs taken in the presence of large number of Navy personnel under closely controlled and almost ideal circumstances should have absolutely proved the existence of an unidentified flying object. Unfortunately, further investigation provided only frustration at every turning. A number of Brazilian Navy officers profess to believe the story implicitly but whether they have more information than we is unknown.
2. There appear to be only two explanations for this peculiar incident:
a) Some overwhelming power has told the Brazilian Navy not to officially verify this incident (which they should easily be able to do, if it occurred) nor to deny it (which they should easily be able to do, if it is a fake). I personally do not believe that anyone has told the Brazilian Navy to keep quiet about it because there has been no hint of such suppression in either Brazilian or U.S. circles; and also because I doubt their control of the individual officers and men is good enough to hold the line.
b) The whole thing is a fake publicity stunt put on by a crooked photographer and the Brazilian Navy fell for it. This seems like the most likely considering Brazilians' love from sensationalism and gossip, their well-known propensity for never letting the truth stand in the way of a good story, and general bureaucratic inefficiency.
3. In addition, the photographs furnished by the Brazilian Navy are unconvincing. Details of the land are extremely sharp but the disc is hazy and has little contrast and shows no shadow effect. It also appears that the object was inverted in photograph 2 compared to 1 and 3. Also the papers have mentioned extremely high velocities and there appears to be no lateral blurring as would occur with any reasonable shutter speed.
4. It is the reporting officer's private opinion that a flying saucer sighting would be unlikely at the very barren island of Trindade, as everyone knows Martians are extremely comfort-loving creatures.
Prepared and forwarded:
The Blue Book files on this case also contain a United Press dispatch from Rio de Janeiro of February 25, 1958, which stated that the Brazilian Navy Ministry confirmed the UFO sighting and photos as real. The dispatch stated:
The Brazilian Navy Ministry vouched today for the authenticity of the photographs of a "flying saucer" taken recently aboard the Navy survey ship, Almirante Saldanha.
Navy Minister Adm. _____ said after meeting with President Kubichek in the summer presidential palace at Petropolis, that he also vouched personally for the authenticity of the pictures.
The Navy has a great secret which it cannot divulge because it cannot be explained," the minister said.
"One would think that our own government would have enough diplomatic contacts in Brazil to confirm or deny officially the authenticity of the photographs. In any case, the Brazilian UFO photos remain in the Blue Book files under the listing of "Hoax." Perhaps only the Brazilian government will ever know for sure."
For three cases that occurred approximately 2 months prior to Trindade, see:
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