The Trindade Island Photographs 16 Jan 1958

Martin Shough

A study of the camera position
(Mar 2004. Last update 16 Mar 2004)

(index) Part One (Go to Part 2>)

Fig.1. A panorama of the four prints showing foregrounds. (courtesy Brad Sparks)

Three of Barauna's four pictures - P2, P3 and P4 - show parts of the ship's deck rail, ropes and other features in the foreground. The type of rail shown is consistent with the type of tubular metal rail and 3-ball stanchions shown in deck plans of the Almirante Saldanha and in other photographs taken on board. Comparison of these details is also enough to show that these photographs were taken from roughly the same place, but it is not possible to identify the location at first glance.

Contemporary information suggests that Barauna was in the stern of the ship:

Fig.2.Drawing in O Globo 26 Feb 1958

An early newspaper account in O Globo, 26 Feb 1958, states that

the photographer Barauna was located at the stern of the ship.

A drawing (not in all other respects reliable) reproduced above shows sight lines to the object from the stern. Similarly a drawing accompanying the Joao Martins interview with Barauna in O Cruzeiro, 8 March 1958, has the caption:

ALMIRANTE SALDANHA was anchored close to the point near the "Galo Crest" Peak and photographer Barauna was at the stern.

More reliable, perhaps, is an extract from the Brazilian Navy intelligence report:

1. The Corvette Captain Carlos Alberto Ferreira Bacellar, Commander of the Trindade Island Oceanographic Post, was called to this High Command, on January 27, 1958, where his Report was presented. He informed the following: (...)

V... The ship was preparing to depart and the crew was in the operation of taking aboard the boat used in the trips to the Island. The UAO alarm was given by members of the crew in the stern and bow of the ship;

VI— On that same occasion, a professional photographer, civilian, who was on the deck, at the ship’s stern photographing the operation to take aboard the boat, was alerted and had the opportunity to take the four photographs enclosed ...

Capt. Jose Geraldo Brandao, Brazilian Navy High Command, Intelligence Department, March 03 1958

The Navy report does not actually say where Barauna was when he took the photographs, only where he was at the moment when he was alerted. We are left to presume that the photography location was also in the stern. But we can flesh this out a little with the statement of Capt. Jose Viegas (Brazilian Air Force, retired):

I was on the deck. My friend Amilar Vieira Filho suddenly called my attention to what he thought to be a ‘big seagull.’ I looked toward it and was unable to control my excitement, shouting: ‘Flying saucer!’ Mr. Barauna was 20 yards away with his Rolleiflex, watching the maneuvers [of the boat-raising]. He heard my shouts and came running—in time to take four pictures of the object. Other people were also alerted by my alarm: a sergeant, sailors, the ship’s dentist (Lieutenant Captain Homero Ribeiro), and other persons. They all sighted the object. The photographer Farias de Azevedo, who was more distant, didn’t come in time to get photos.

(Rio de Janeiro DIARIO DA NOITE, 0 JORNAL, etc., February 22, 1958. trans Olavo Fontes)

Viegas does not say where he was when Barauna "came running", but several photographs taken on deck during the trip and at anchor off the island show that the deck area behind the aft gun appears to have been a favourite congregating point for members of the Icarai subaqua club and ship's officers. So this is consistent with Viegas having been somewhere in the stern when he raised the alarm.

Putting all this together it appears that Barauna was somewhere at the stern photographing the boat being winched aboard prior to departure, then ran to somewhere else, 20 yards away but also "at the stern", in order to photograph the UFO. There is no inconsistency here. The phrase "ship's stern" does not necessarily mean the extreme aft point of the ship. In this usage it should be taken to mean the poop deck, the area aft of the well containing the deckhouse and bridge superstructure (in the same way "the bow" would mean the fo'castle deck forward of the well). The poop deck is more than 120' long, so locations that are generally in the stern of the ship might still be some way from one another.

The boat that was being winched aboard is elsewhere generally referred to as a motor "pinnace" used to ferry between ship and shore. This was one of six boats (two open motor pinnaces, two part-covered motor boats and two small "pulling cutters") stored on skids running athwart the deckhouse roof in the rear of the central well - roughly amidships, in fact. So a location that was both "at the ship's stern" and conveniently situated to photograph the boat being hoisted would probably have been at the rail - port or starboard - just aft of the central well, but certainly forward of the 30' metal whaling boats stored by both rails on the poop deck, which would otherwise have obstructed Barauna's view of the winching of the pinnace.

Fig.3. Layout of the poop deck, based on 1/120-scale plans by Harold A. Underhill A.M.I.E.S., Glasgow, taken from original engineering drawings of the Armstrong Vickers design built under contract to the Brazilian Navy at Barrow in Furness in 1933.

So with reasonable confidence we can narrow down the spot where Barauna was when the object was sighted to one of two locations forward of the whaling boats - A or B on the sketch plan in Fig.3. To work out where Barauna then ran to in response to Viegas' shouts we need to find a location which meets several conditions:

We have fairly detailed plans which show the ship as it was configured, with some rigging changes, from the 1930s to the mid-1950s. Bearing in mind that some minor structural adaptations were made in 1957 for oceanographic survey purposes connected with Brazil's IGY commitment (a major rebuild for her new official oceanographic role did not begin until 1961), these plans allow us to interpret photographs taken on board during the 1958 trip and thus to make some inferences about the deck layout and the location from which Barauna's UFO pictures were taken.


  The photograph at left is taken looking aft in the extreme stern of the ship, the heart-shaped aperture beneath Vieira being the mooring port immediately aft of the hawse pipe for the stern anchor chain. Looking at the deck rail in this photo, there do appear to be chains or unclippable cable sections on either side of the central stanchion (behind Vieira, on the left).

However the plans show that the rail in this area is continuously curved with a radius of about 10', a curvature of 0.6" per foot. The rail in P2 would curve by 0.5" or 40% of its own diameter in its run of 10".

Arguably there is no sign of this on the print. More importantly, photos of the stern, such as the one from which this detail is taken, show no evidence of the vertical stanchion with pendant chains visible in P3.

The extreme stern appears to be ruled out, so we are driven to consider the ~ 60' of relatively straight rail aft of the whaler on either side of the poop deck. The next question is, "Which side?"

The 1958 drawing shown in Fig.2 is of course only schematic, but crudely speaking it tells us that the ship was orientated with the stern towards the island and that the photographs were taken from the port side of the ship. Combined with the orientation of the deck rail seen in Fig.1 this would mean that the object was observed over the north tip of the island aft of the port beam. This is in fact consistent with the orientation of the Almirante Saldanha photographed at anchor in Fig.5 below (see A Study of the Ship's Position).

This is taken from the Navy post above Portuguese Beach on the east side of the island during the Jan 1958 visit, and the camera appears to be pointing roughly north over the bay with the rugged coastline cutting northwestwards across the line of sight. The orientation of the ship appears to be broadly speaking W-E, with the bowsprit pointing E out to sea.

Fig.5. Barauna ashore at the Trindade Island Oceanographic Post, Jan 1958, with the Almirante Saldanha anchored in the background. (O Cruzeiro, 08 March 1958)

So, it is reasonable to conclude that the location where Barauna photographed the UFO is somewhere along the fairly straight stretch of rail aft of the port whaling boat.

To be more specific we need to study photographs and deck plans in more detail.

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