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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Apr > Apr 24

Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2011 23:20:59 +0100
Archived: Sun, 24 Apr 2011 08:07:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

>From: Kentaro Mori <kentaro.mori.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 17:33:33 -0300
>Subject: Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

>>From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
>>To: <post.nul>
>>Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 18:45:41 +0100
>>Subject: Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found


>>A 1958 Brazilian Navy intelligence evalutaion stating not only
>>that there _were_ Navy witnesses, but that it had indeed been
>>they in the bow and stern of the ship who raised the initial
>>alarm on deck, was never considered by you as bearing on the
>>answer to that question, because after all everyone is fallible,
>>even Navy intelligence captains and their Navy sources (in
>>particular the Navy's designated cognizant technical
>>investigator on the spot, Capt Bacellar), and there's always
>>room for doubt, right?

>This is the intelligence evaluation that failed to evaluate that
>Barauna was very well-known in his home-town (a few miles from
>where the Navy Intelligence was located) for being a hoaxer...


Dear Kentaro

Sorry for not responding right away. It was a busy time and
several long replies in this thread are merited.

We amicably disagree on how to interpret the standing and
significance of the Navy intelligence investigation (at the
moment), but I don't wish - dare? ;-) - to get into that in this
email because it is such a large can of worms and would be better
discussed when you are finally able to undertake publication of
all the background and reasonings about which we have had virile
private disputes in recent years (see below).

>>Similarly the fact that the Captain of the Almirante Saldanha
>>told the US Assistant Naval Attache in 1958 that his own
>>Executive Assistant, a Navy Commander, had himself seen it (the
>>officer in question did not deny it when questioned), was I
>>suspect considered by you a wholly negligible fact, presumably
>>for similar reasons.

>This is the Captain that later on published a book where he
>mentions the Bermuda Triangle as a great mystery. He believed
>in the sighting.

This is interesting, Kentaro. When will you be free to post
details of any source(s) you have discovered about Capt Saldanha
da Gama's beliefs re the sighting?

In correspondence with you in the past I commented on the
discretion, after the fact, of da Gama (apologies if that's the
wrong way to use his name) and other ship's officers, none of
whom appears to have said (or been recorded saying) anything
publicly or officially, either in denial or endorsement. In fact
the only known comments of Da Gama are those made in what might
justifiably have been assumed by him to be closed, confidential
exchanges with foreign officials that would never see the light
of day.

Thus in 1958 Capt da Gama was carefully "noncommital", during
two different visits by US Navy Officers to his ship (the US
Assistant Naval Attache and the Captain of USCG Westwind).He did
not endorse or deny the sighting. But he did "freely discuss"
the incident, and in doing so he and at least two other ship's
Officers - the Capt's assistant and the Exec - gave their US
Navy interviewers no cause to doubt that there had been an
actual incident on deck which caused a stir and came immediately
to their attention. None of these sources on the spot seems to
have told these interviewers anything like "The Navy has nothing
to do with it, this was just a lark by a few civilians"

(I offered this as an indication that something, a sighting
event of whatever cause, had indeed happened, despite there
being no mention of it in the ship's log  [For those not au
fait, this is a working log and records only day-to-day ships
operations concerning engineering, navigation, personnel and
cargo etc - it is not a discursive narrative of the voyage or a
"diary of events".] I think recent disclosures are in the
direction of tending to confirm that there was indeed a sighting
event on deck involving members of the crew as officially
recorded at the time.)

In reply you characterised da Gama as a "a gullible believer"
and he and his officers as "not rational, skeptical people that
would question and expose, or endorse, based on a critical
evaluation of the evidence." Your presumptions could be correct,
but I see no evidence of Da Gama behaving irrationally in
respect of the Trindade sighting. In fact the evidence is that
beyond affirming that an incident occurred, and reporting
Commander X's claimed involvement, he didn't endorse anything,
gullibly or otherwise, either confidentially in 1958 or
publicly, not even long afterwards when he wrote what his
publishers entitled 'Brazilians in the Deadly Bermuda Triangle'
in 1984.

As far as I know this is the only one of DaGama's books to
concern itself with weird mysteries at sea (he wrote others
about Naval history). And in it he didn't refer to the Trindade
mystery at all. I think it's interesting and even a little
surprising that this "gullible believer" didn't take the
opportunity to at least mention having a role in Brazil's pre-
eminent saucer sea mystery.

If the fact that Da Gama wrote a Bermuda Triangle book in 1984
is your evidence for characterising Da Gama in 1958 as a
"believer" - and this is again the only evidence you cite - then
I invite you to consider cause and effect.

Our characters and beliefs are generally the result of what
happened to us in our pasts. That book was written by a
different Saldhana da Gama - a man 26 years older living in a
different world (at least I'm confident that in Europe and in
the US the millieu of 1984 was dramatically different from that
of 1958, and the 1970s had seen a huge change in the permissions
that society gave its members to think and talk about weird
anomalies and in the wealth of ideas and images that it made
available for the purpose via a welter of books and films about
UFOs, ESP the Triangle and much else. Some of us know - perhaps
to our own shame - just how pervasive the effects of that
culture were on our beliefs as younger men <g>. I guess that a
similar cultural curve may have happened in Brazil, possibly
just a little later. So a man who also had behind him the
sanction of an impressive saucer sighting on his own ship back
in 1958 might well be more than averagely disposed to buy into
the "mysteries" culture of the time.

Reasoning backwards from 1984 to his state of mind in January
1958 is a very dodgy business IMO.

These are the relevant contemporaneous facts I am aware of:

In 1958 Capt Sunderland, a witness whom I assume you would
regard as "a rational, skeptical person", reported a picture not
of over-excitement but of what you might call frank reserve from
the ship's Officers.

Far from enthusing or endorsing anything da Gama was
"noncommital" with the Assistant Attache in Santos on Feb 24 and
simply reported what he knew. To the CO of the Westwind at a
later unspecified time he "freely discussed" the affair and
showed his visitor "original proofs" (presumably meaning prints)
but "again did not commit himself".

Likewise da Gama's assitant Lt Com X simply "avoided discussing"
his own sighting, and if the Executive Officer felt any
temptation to inflate his role by claiming he'd also seen it he
resisted, saying that he arrived just too late and was only able
to say that those on deck had in his opinion really seen an

BTW da Gama also wrote two authoritative books on the history of
Brazilian naval warfare. According to the US Library of

"In the case of the individual armed forces, the history of the
navy is better documented than that of the army and air force,
thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the navy's own Historical
Section. Apart from the navy's publications, Arthur Oscar
Saldanha da Gama's two books on the Brazilian Navy in the two
world wars provide excellent coverage not only of this aspect of
the subject but also of the period immediately preceding each


I suspect that these books are no more relevant to the question
of what happened on the deck of the Almirante Saldanha on Jan 16
1958 than the Bermuda Triangle one he wrote 26 years afterwards.
The point is that a noteworthy incident of whatever cause
clearly did happen, peripherally involving these ship's
Officers, despite the fact that it is not recorded in the ship's

>If his Executive Assistant did not actually see
>anything, one assumes he would feel embarassed to contradict
>his superior. .

Yes, one could assume that he saw nothing, that Da Gama was
mistaken or deluded, or even lying, or that it hadbeen a
misjudged joke by Commander X, or various possibilities. Or one
could say that the Commander X was reticent because he had
relied on his Captain's confidence and didn't want to risk
getting involved officially in what was rapidly becoming a
military-political furore. The subsequent discretion of all
parties could be consistent with either scenario.

>Furthermore, the same Intelligence Report you trust

Trust? I'd rather say "the report which I still await persuasive
evidence to _dis_trust". (This is not a matter of wanting to
claim that the Report covers every angle so as to remove the
need for questions and interpretations - it clearly doesn't. My
disagreement with your approach to it is about its function and
context, again an argument too subtle and many-faceted to sound-
bite here)

>states no officer saw anything

Yes, it does - or at least no officer reported seeing anything -
but of course if the officer concerned did not officially report
anything this would merely be consistent with the reluctance and
discretion implied in Sunderland's memo.

>>1958 statements by another officer on the ship, Capt Paulo de
>>Castro Moreira da Silva, attested to at least five Navy
>>witnesses in addition to the three civilians. I expect you can
>>articulate good reasons why this has never seemed to have any

>Those who understand Portuguese know that "umas oito", an
>indefinite article in the plural form, means there's much
>uncertainty as to the given number. Assuming "at least eight"
>is not very appropriate. It could have been even less, it could
>have been more.

But it was not "three", was it? Let us say "perhaps eight",
then. Perhaps eight implies perhaps five more than the number of
three civilians.

Like everybody else, Jansen didn't know how many people
constituted the "everyone" whom he saw apparently witnessing the
object that he couldn't see, but guessed that it would have been
the "around 13 or 15 people that strolls around the deck". Again
this is significantly more than 3, and he specifed that they
were mostly "sailors". In fact I would suggest to you that at
this time near noon on the day of departure from the island,
when all parties were back on board and when the ship's boat was
just in the process of being winched up preparatory to the trip
home, there might have been more crew on deck than Jansen's
typical "13 or 15 strolling around". I imagine it would have
been somewhat busy with activity and not just the few usual
suspects casually "strolling around" as Jansen's evidently vague
recollection seems to imply

Howsoever, Jansen's statement IMO invites more focus on press
reports from Feb 1954 stating that crew witnesses - positive
witnessess - were interviewed by reporters.

According to Fontes:

"On February 24, 1958, the NE Almirante Saldanha arrived at
Santos, S. P. Members of the crew were permitted to visit the
town and there, for the first time, were contacted by the press.
[This was the same docking during which the ship's officers were
visited aboard ship by US Navy officers]  Their declarations
were printed in two Sao Paulo's newspapers (FOLHA DA TARDE and 0
ESTADO DE SAO PAULO, of February 25). All of them confirmed the
passage of the UAO over the Island, watched by all members of
the crew on the ship's deck at the time. Several of them had
been eye-witnesses of the event."

As you know I have been hoping for years to see the originals of
these stories. It is my impression that in other cases Fontes'
representations of press stories are on the whole rather
accurate and reliable. I understood from our correspondence a
couple of years ago that you may have located these sources, and
I think I understood you to say in guarded tones that it "might"
indeed be the case that these stories contain what Fontes said
they contained. Was that a correct understanding? I suppose we
must still wait a while longer until you are ready to publish
things in a form satisfactory to you, but it would undeniably be
helpful to have these texts in front of us now...

As you know a Navy press statement said that witnesses included
members of the crew. Com. Moreira told the press that they
included members of the crew. Capt Bacellar told Capt Brandao,
Intelligence, after making his inquiries on board (under a
standing instruction by the Navy High Command) that witnesses
included members of the crew on deck. Brandao's report recorded
that these members of the crew included sailors in the bow and
stern of the ship who had issued the original alarm alerting the
ship to the presence of the object.

Barauna's sceptical nephew, Ribeiro, recently assured us that an
object was genuinely sighted by members of the crew as well as
the civilians. Now Jansen also reports that "everyone" on deck
except himself - including Navy crew - genuinely believed they
sighted an object (even though _he_ believes there was not
really anything to see).

Perhaps it is time for us to be less averse to accepting that
the witnesses on deck (witnesses to whatever) genuinely included
some members of the crew, for all that we do not have their
names, and that (as stated by Jansen) the photo incident -
whatever its status, real or opportunistic later hoax - was
prompted by a genuine incident that had nothing to do with
Barauna or the other divers on board and surprised them as much
as anyone else?

>But certainly one would not refer to "umas oito"
>if there were something like 48 witnesses.

True, but I did not claim that Moreira da Silva's statement
specifed or implied 48 witnesses.

>>One of those civilians, govt banker Amilar Vieira, was from the
>>start a reluctant witness who, AFAICS, earned the somewhat
>>baffled respect of sceptics who interviewed him recently before
>>his death by insisting clearly and firmly that he saw an object,
>>that this was the simple fact and that he would never deny it,
>>whatever may be said about Barauna and his photos. I don't
>>recall that discussion of these interviews on this list excited
>>you to comment.

>I respect his testimony just as much as I respect Jansen's
>testimony. Both may be correct, both may not be. Certainly none
>of them can be taken as the Revelated Message of Truth.

Indeed so. Both ought to be taken in some form. Both require
careful interpretation in the proper context.

>The only person we know for sure has lied in this story is
>Almiro Barauna.

This is not what "we know for sure",it is what "you assert with
surety". But it is too large and hydra-headed a nest of claims,
and covers too many areas of debate, to be addressed in the run
of this text. Suffice to say, I still regard most of the small
sub-claims which consitute the force of your large claim as
being very debateable (when interpreted in what I would argue is
the proper context).

>>Even the recent "hoax" claimant, Barauna's nephew Marcelo
>>Ribeiro who said (unintelligibly as it happens) that his uncle
>>opportunistically faked the photos using Carioca bus tokens
>>(bluntly, impossible), said Barauna privately assured him that
>>"in reality, people saw something", but he dismissed it as a
>>strange "cloud phenomenon" or something else.

>I don't think it's unintelligible.

I think it is. But noting your satisfaction with Ribeiro, and
having just seen your post concerning a "second negative
witness" (not really a negaive witness at all, of course) who
claims it was obviously all a planned hoax and mere hysterical
suggestion, I feel bound to point out that Ribeiro explicitly
contradicts this claim.

Let's first reprise Ribeiro's story, the "true" story that he
says Barauna told only to he and his aunt, because I'm not
convinced that some who have commented on it really appreciate
what he was saying in the first place.

Firstly, Ribeiro is emphatic that there was no planned hoax, no
conspiracy whatever between Barauna and his
friends/mates/cronies [delete as appropriate]. Barauna faked the
photos later, but Viegas, Amilar, Andrade - the other Icarai
diving club members - had nothing to do with it and no knowledge
of his imposture. He could never tell them, said Ribeiro,
because his reputation would have been ruined ("demoralized")
and perhaps more importantly because "there was also the issue
of the Navy. The fact that the Navy was involved could even
result in a jail sentence, especially under an authoritarian
regime which was even worse at that time. The military were
preparing for the 1964 coup after the one in 1955."  So apart
from Barauna's mere pretence of photographing the real "UFO"
(necessitating his later imposture) everything happened
innocently, much as advertised.

Ribeiro's story is that there really was a sighting and an
object, something that excited people - maybe it was a balloon,
or a strange cloud, something else, some freak of nature, who
knows - and there was a real commotion about it. People believed
it was a UFO and they believed Barauna was really photographing
it - just as Jansen also says. "Everyone" saw it, agrees
Ribeiro, "some of the military" (even the Captain, he adds).
Barauna looked where they were pointing, and he saw it too,
whatever it was, as did Viegas. And Amilar, coming on deck in
the middle of things as he recently recalled in interviews
before his death, really did see what he thought was a fast-
moving greyish oval thing flying off over the sea, "he did see
it, he really did". Ribeiro does not tell us that Barauna knew
what it was or that he was a cynical charlatan about UFOs, He
tells us that Barauna was an opportunistic joker, and used the
situation to his advantage, but that he took ufology "seriously"
and really did see this thing, he did not know what it was, and
he did try to get real photographs of it. But it would have been
something ordinary, says Ribeiro, misinterpreted. Everyone "saw
what they wanted to see". This object, whatever it may have
been, doesn't appear on the photos - what we see on the photos
is a fake done at home later.

Why did the photos not show whatever was really causing the
excitement at the time? The reason, says Ribeiro, is that
Barauna had no film in his camera because he had just climbed
out of the sea where he had used up his film on underwater
shots. So he first pretended (with impressive forethought) to
take a few photos in case he never did get any real ones, and
then "ran to his cabin" where he had more film, reloaded his
camera and ran back to the deck hoping to be in time, but by
then, says Ribeiro, the real object had gone so Barauna didn't
get to photograph it. Simple...

Now this almost makes sense. We can easily believe the real
object, whatever it was, had gone. The witness descriptions and
circumstances indicate an event that was probably over from
start to finish in some tens of seconds. We would certainly
expect it to have long been over by the time Barauna had been
alerted, realised the situation, pretended to take some photos,
then run below decks to his cabin, found a new 12-shot film
roll, opened and reloaded his Rolleiflex (in 1958 not a
proceedure as simple as clicking in a cassette or a digital data
card), and run back up to the deck... to find the object gone,
no doubt relieved that he'd had the presence of mind to
convincingly simulate photographing it before by "running and
shooting" with his empty camera.

At this point Barauna presumably took the series of six
photographs onto four of which he would later add the fake UFO.
It needn't attract notice as it would be natural for him to scan
the view with his camera as if hunting for the vanished UFO or
waiting for it to return. Taken only a matter of minutes after
the "real" event, they would then show the correct conditions
and the correct near-vertical sun angle for the time of day and
could not be faulted.

But this film roll could not contain photographs of activities
on deck earlier that morning. So we run immediately into a new
problem, one that magnifies the already insurmountable problem
that Capt Bacellar examined the film taken still-wet from
Barauna's hand. Note that Bacellar was sceptical and cautious
about this. "I stayed at his side all the time, in order to
watch him", he said, for about an hour while Barauna calmed down
and a darkroom was "prepared", then he stationed himself outside
the darkroom door and took possession of the intact negative
strip, which he subjected to a "careful examination". This
examination, he famously said, enabled him to determine the

"(a) that the pictures preceding the sequence connected with the
object's passage corresponded with scenes taken aboard a few
minutes before the incident;

"(b) that, in the pictures connected with the sighting, was
visible, in different positions, an image looking like the
object seen later on the copies-with details which only the
enlargements made afterward showed more clearly;

"(c) and that the two photos lost by Barauna because he was too
nervous, or because he was pushed by other excited people around
him-showed the sea and part of the Island's mountains"

Notice that Bacellar (no callow ingenue, but an experienced and
technically-qualified hydrographer and meteorologist as well as
a Superior Navy Corps officer who was specifically tasked by the
Navy High Command to investigate UFO sightings at Trindade and
then summoned to the NHC Intelligence Department to report on
this) observed not only the "UFO" image on four negatives (and
significantly noted its _absence_ on two) but saw the
photographs of morning activities on deck in the correct
sequence before the UFO photographs.

Ribeiro insists there absolutely was not anythiong photograpehd
on that film roll, and shoves this whole issue off the table
into the waste bin with the cavalier assertion that "people see
what they want to see". This is contemptuous and contemptible,
and just not good enough

So, no, I don't believe that this story - as allegedly told by
Barauna according to a hearsay witness - is intelligible as it

>Also, I disagree tokens would
>be impossible. I suspect we will never be able to determine what
>was the original image used for the hoax, but there's no reason
>why the "Carioca fleet chips" couldn't have been the original

There is nothing about the geometry or textures of the Trindade
images that suggests the use of these Carioca tokens. The rough
similarity between the square-humped disc made of Carioca tokens
for the Mundo Illustrado photos and the oblate "Saturn" of
Trindade could mean that the former suggested the shape he used
for the latter, but the construction would have to be different.
It is, I insist, impossible that the images in the Trindade
photos could be obtained by photographing the Carioca chips as

"There are a chips used to ride by bus in Rio de Janeiro back
that time.

I saw him doing it once in his house. He hung the chip in the
window against the night sky. He did these things many
times...He knew he could do that with the tokens. So he just
repeated the trick? Yes...  It was a double exposure. He took
the picture of the UFO against the night sky. It was in his home
at Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro. After that he printed it altogether
with the island's sky. He photographed the token, which is the
UFO, then combined it with the island's picture. He added both

In fact it wouldn't matter what he used, because the
overpainting (or whatever) that would have been necessary to
transform a Carioca-chip model to what we see in the photos
would erase the connection to any arbitrary range of original
shapes. You could as well say that he used a dog's bowl or a top
hat. No, I think it more likely that Ribeiro confused memories
of Barauna showing how he had used Carioca chips in the Mundo
Illustrado article with memories of what Barauna told him about

>That the same image was reused in at least two of the
>four photos in the series is quite evident,

No, it is not evident. It is a theory that does not survive more
than casual inspection. Photos #1 and #2 are simply _not_
inversions of the same photographic image, This is very easy for
anyone to verify by close inspection. It will never become true
no matter how many times people say it is so.

>and it was since the original ATIC evaluation.
>Again, already in 1958 vital pieces
>of information were already there, but were ignored by
>Ufologists, and ignored to this day.

I disagree that it has been ignored. I think Sunderland's 1958
inversion claim has been very widely and deeply discussed by
those of us (few enough, I grant you ;-)) who give a damn one
way or the other, and continues to be.


>There may be more people, outside Barauna's circle of friends,
>who may claim to have seen something. This would be very
>important. Jansen himself states that several other people
>pointed to the sky claiming to see something, as our interviews
>portrait. But, as Jansen's testimony doesn't prove there was
>nothing, it wouldn't prove there was actually something in the

It certainly would not. The way these small issues fall out is
something that operates not directly on the primary "truth
claims" but on the consistency and usefulness of our own thought
processes. They work as tests of the networks of inferences that
we put together in support of those overall truth claims.
Unfortunately this is - as you say - a highly complex process
that is very difficult to objectively keep track of, owing to
the sheer quantity of information and the interactivity of a
great many small, often inconclusive logical battles fought
inside the overall strategic theatre, where a shifting front
line is hard even to discern, never mind reading the direction
in which it is trending.

>The most relevant point here is: there were only a few people
>who believed they saw something, and at least one who didn't.
>Barauna lied when he claimed everyone saw it, or most
>importantly when he mentioned dozens of people saw something.
>Even Amilar was dismissive when I asked him if there were
>dozens of people who also saw something.


>I agree. No single piece of evidence, isolated, allows us to
>draw any conclusions. But together, they point to a very clear

I am less convinced that the direction is so clear - or perhaps
I should say, the direction of your thinking is clear, but I am
less compelled by it..

>There's much to discuss, and I have to publish what I have to
>publish. I think the case has so many details, and people revert
>so often to the same old points, that it's better to publish an
>analysis online and then have them reviewed by peers - as you
>know, Martin - instead of discussing it back and forth. But I
>thought these points should be made here for the time being.

I couldn't agree more heartily - as you know, Kentaro. I
continue to wait eagerly for the day when you will be able to
lay out all of your wares (I know you've already published a
great deal, of course, but you know the material I mean) and put
your interpretive case in the full daylight where we can all see
and critique it openly.

Kind regards


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