Trinidade is a small, deserted, rocky island located in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, between the Brazilian coast and the African continent, more than six hundred miles off the coast of Bahia.

During World War II, it was used as a military base for United States and Brazilian warships engaging German U-boats.

It was abandoned after the end of the war, remaining completely deserted and forgotten until 1957.

In October of that year a task force from the Brazilian Navy arrived there, under the command of Captain-of-Corvette Carlos Alberto Bacellar.

The Hydrography and Navigation Division of the Ministry of the Navy had decided to build an oceanographic post and a meteorological station on the island for research connected with the International Geophysical Year (IGY).

In early January 1958 the ship “Almirante Saldanha” left Rio de Janeiro’s harbor and proceeded toward the Island of Trinidade with a crew of three hundred. The ship had previously been a Brazilian Navy training vessel, but it had been converted into a hydrographic unit to be used for IGY-related research.

It was operated by the Hydrography and Navigation Division, and, since October 1957, it had made several trips to Trinidade, most of them connected with the Navy’s oceanographic studies for the IGY.

Several civilians were aboard the ship this time, officially invited to collaborate in the scientific studies which were underway at the island.

One of these men was Almiro Barauna, a photographer and former newspaperman working as a “free-lancer.” He was also an expert in submarine photography.

After a routine trip, the ship arrived at the Island and stayed there for several days. It was scheduled to leave for Rio on January 16. On that day, at 12:15 P.M., when the ship was preparing to depart, a strange object was sighted simultaneously by a number of observers gathered on deck.

The UFO came toward the island at high speed, hovered briefly over a peak, disappeared behind it for a short time, and appeared again to move away toward the sea.

Mr. Barauna was taking pictures of the ship’s maneuvers at that moment. He spotted the UFO and got four pictures of it.

Barauna was later interviewed by reporter Joao Martins and his statements were published in the Brazilian magazine “0 Cruzeiro” in the March 8, 1958 issue. Here is a translation of that interview:

Q. Mr. Barauna, what were the reasons for your presence aboard the NE Almirante Saldanha? 

A. The Navy had invited several teams specialized in submarine hunting to visit the Island of Trindade. I am a member of the Icarai Club for Submarine Hunting, and our group was invited for the last trip. So, on January 8, when the ship left Rio, I was aboard together with the following members of my group:

Amilar Yieira Filho, captain of our team, a government employee (he has a job at the CACEX); Jose Teobaldo Viegas, instructor at the Aero Club of Niteroi and Air Force captain (retired); Mauro Andrade, from the London Bank; and Aloisio, municipal employee at the Federal District.

We were going to try to beat some records on submarine hunting.

Personally, I was going to take underwater photographs for the Navy and, also, to write some articles about the Island and the activities of the scientists working for the IGY. 

Q. Were any other civilians aboard, besides your group?

A. Yes. There was Professor Fernando, a geologist, with two assistants, and also a photographer, and a reporter from the newspaper Jornal do Brasil. The three scientists left the ship and went to the island. 

“Q. Please tell me what was the date of the sighting? What happened?

A. It was on January 16, at 12:15 P.M. The ship was preparing to leave the island, to come back to Rio. I was on the deck observing the operations to take aboard the boat used in the trips between the ship and the island (the island has no harbor).

The sea was agitated. The weather was cloudy, clear, with no shadows. I had my Rolleiflex 2.8, Model E, which was kept inside an aluminum box for protection against the corrosive effects of water and salt. I had left my Leica with a telephoto lens in my cabin a few moments before. The deck was full of sailors and officers. Suddenly, Mr. Amilar Vieira and Captain Viegas called me, pointing to a certain spot in the sky and yelling about a bright object which was approaching the island.

At this same moment, when I was still trying to see what it was, Lieutenant Homero, the ship’s dentist, came from the bow toward us, running, pointing out to the sky and also yelling about an object he was sighting. He was so disturbed and excited that he almost fell down after colliding with a cable. Then I was finally able to locate the object, by the flash (of light) it emitted.

It was already close to the island. It glittered at certain moments, perhaps changing its own light – I don’t know. It was coming over the sea, moving toward the point called the Galo Crest. I had lost thirty seconds looking for the object, but the camera was already in my hands, ready, when I sighted it clearly silhouetted against the clouds.

I shot two photos before it disappeared behind the peak Desejado. My camera was set at a speed of 125 [125th of a second], with the aperture at f/8, and this was the cause of an overexposure error, as I discovered later. 

“The object remained out of sight for a few seconds – behind the peak – reappearing bigger in size and flying in the opposite direction, but lower and closer than before, and moving at a higher speed. I shot the third photo. The fourth and fifth ones were lost, not only because of the speed the saucer was moving, but also for another reason:

In the confusion produced as a result of the sighting, I was being pulled and pushed by other persons also trying to spot the object and, as a consequence, photographed the sea and the island only – not the object. It was moving out to sea again, in the direction from which it had come, and it appeared to stop in midair for a brief time. At that moment I shot my last photo (the last on the film).

After about ten seconds, the object continued to increase its distance from the ship, gradually diminishing in size and finally disappearing into the horizon.