What do you think of when you hear the term “UFO”? The name should speak for itself, however when someone typically mentions the term “UFO”, most people picture a preconceived notion of a saucer-shaped vehicle or little green men sitting in the pilot’s seat of a disc-shaped craft. Personally, I consider anything in the air which I do not recognize as unidentified. You won’t find me reaching out to the medial too quickly because I also believe a majority of those things could be easily identified with a little bit of research. Just because something is flying around that I can’t readily identify, it doesn’t automatically mean I believe I am witnessing alien life forms contained within. We must remember to approach each incident of reported UFO phenomena without bias or preconceived notions, but instead, consider the facts at hand.
I remember watching an episode of the TV show “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files” a few years ago where someone recorded video of what appeared to be a seemingly-convincing unidentified craft that appeared metallic and shimmering in the sky. After doing a little bit of local research, the team learned that a large, flying-saucer shaped helium balloon was accidentally set loose the day the video was recorded. The balloon was spherical in the center, surrounded by a flat disc shape peripherally. To further confirm, they decided to re-create the conditions with a similar balloon, and it was pretty obvious that video footage of the re-creation looked identical to the original video, including the way the balloon wobbled in the wind at higher altitude. This resulted in the same shimmering effect as the sun reflected off of the rotating balloon’s surface.
Not all UFO cases are so easily debunked though. There’s a fine line between saying something has been identified, and stating there are potential explanations for objects that have been observed. Anyone can look at a photo and say, “it could be a weather balloon” or “it could be an experimental military aircraft” and dismiss it without further investigation. Well they could be right, or they could be wrong. How often do those people go a step further and produce photos of what they think a sighting could be for comparison? The difference in what we believe is subjective, and for many people, simply stating what an object could be without addressing every detail about a sighting or event, is simply not satisfactory. We need to go the extra mile.
On this episode of Deviatus, we’re taking a look into an event that’s over 40 years old, yet we’ve only recently learned about it. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of background information available, but we do, however, have a collection of what appears to be authentic photographs documenting an object over the ocean which may have actually crashed into the water after being damaged somehow. I’d like to invite you to listen to the information available, and derive your own conclusions.
Just a couple of years ago, UFO investigator and researcher, Alex Mistretta came forward with 9 leaked photographs from an unidentified source in Europe. The photographs depict an unidentified flying object over the ocean. Some of the images depict this object on fire, as if it had been shot down or had just left a battle. Mistretta, after receiving the photos, soon contacted John Greenwald who runs the website, The Black Vault. And on July 6, 2015 , the case went live on the Black Vault with the limited amount of information they knew at the time. Mistretta also granted permission to archive his research results on the Black Vault, along with all of the photos.
Not long after Mistretta contacted Greenwald, a French paranormal magazine called Top Secret released the same photographs. While Mistretta maintains his source is completely different than the one who provided Top Secret Magazine their copies of the photos, both sources reportedly said that the photos had been taken in the Arctic through a periscope by someone aboard the USS Trepang SSN 674, a United States Navy submarine, in March of 1971.
The Trepang, a Sturgeon class submarine, was 292 feet long and could dive to about 1300 feet below the surface. She could travel 15 knots while surfaced, and up to 25 when submerged. She launched 27 September, 1969 from New London, Connecticut and served a long life in the United States Navy before being decommissioned in 1999 and underwent scrapping via the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington. But before she was decommissioned, she earned the Joint Meritorious Unit Award. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a documented reason for this honor. This award is the only ribbon granted by the U.S. Department of Defence in recognition of outstanding heroism or achievement performed during periods of war, international tension, national emergencies, or extraordinary situations that involve national interests. Whether that has anything to do with the leaked photos that were allegedly taken from the Trepang, we do have details concerning her mission at the time these photos were reportedly taken, and it is certainly worth consideration as we unfold the details surrounding her deployment.
The Trepang set out to sea under the command of Admiral Dean Reynolds Sackett on a joint military and scientific expedition, and somewhere between Iceland and Jan Mayen Island in the Atlantic Ocean, the sub “accidentally” encountered this object. Jan Mayan Island, as reported on the Black Vault website by Mistretta, belongs to Norway and is home to only the Norwegian Military and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on a few things what we know at this point. Two different sources produce the same photos to different people in different countries within a relatively short period of time. The exact time difference separating the presentation of the photos is unknown, however, both sources maintain that all photos were taken on this US Navy sub, and the reported month and year match. How would two separate people know this information? You have to wonder, since the pictures were taken through the periscope, how many people were even aware that these photographs existed. And what information can we even attempt to verify to be true? I have so many more questions that I’ll get to shortly, but thankfully, Mistretta and Greenwald have continued their research and we have at least a little bit more information. Let’s take a deep dive (pun intended) into the photos:
When we look at the photos, there’s much speculation about whether they are of the same object or up to three different ones. I’ll go into greater detail about the photos, but for now, the initial information provided to Mistretta indicated the “object” was first spotted through the periscope by Officer John Klika, indicating that the source believed it to be one object photographed from different perspectives. The other noticeable thing about these photos is you can clearly see the crosshairs in the scope optics in most of them. And I should point out some of the text found on a few of the photos. On the top left corner it reads “OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH. NOT TO BE REALEASED. CT”. On the bottom right, and somewhat faded, it says “Unauthorized Disclosure Subject. Security Certificat. SSN 674. Criminal Sanction. High definition photos are available on our CDR”. Additionally, some of the photos contain the word “SYGMA” in all-capital letters.
Reddit user SquizCat posted scanned photos from the magazine, which I have available on my website. Another Reddit user, hillside, translated the inscriptions printed by Top Secret Magazine from French to English. Please note, hillside does state this is a very literal translation, and since I don’t know French it’s really difficult to know how precise these translations are. I find it difficult to derive some of the conclusions that the magazine editors do within the inscriptions, especially since we have no way of knowing which order they were taken in, but I’d like to walk you through each image. I will also post a link to the Black Vault site in my show notes, which does have much higher-resolution versions of these photos.
The first photo looks almost like a zeppelin from World War II if you are viewing it from the side. There’s a lot of white smoke, some of it superimposed over the object, and a couple of spots toward the middle of it that appear to be on fire. It is slightly angled toward the water, and doesn’t appear to be very high above the surface. The inscription states “We begin this series of photos with the one that is surely the most impressive. It seems to have undergone a different treatment (?) than that of the next three photos. Is it a "cigar" that has been hit by a missile and is exploding at the surface of the water or a UFO that is coming out of the water and ready to fly? Note that no inscription appears on the original document in our possession.”
The second photo is even more peculiar. It also appears to be taken from the side, and may or may not be the same object. No smoke is visible, and a few Reddit users commented saying this could possibly be a photo of an island or ship in the distance, where the space between the object in frame and the water could have been produced by a mirage effect. I’ll discuss my view on this theory more later. While the object is still close to the water in this picture, it appears much farther away than the object in the first photo, and the bottom of the object is not symmetrical with the top - the top being smooth and the bottom almost jagged. The inscription reads “Here are the photos that came with the letter. We present them in an arbitrary order that seemed logical, however it is maybe not the most sensible since we don't know if it the craft is flying, going out of or going into the water...It is worth mentioning that one can read in transparency on three of the photos in our possession, copies of the originals that apparently came from an American military laboratory: On the left on top: OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH. NOT TO BE REALEASED. CT On the right at the bottom and hardly legible, a part of it having been erased because of time: Unauthorized Disclosure Subject. Security Certificat. SSN 674. Criminal Sanction. High definition photos are available on our CDR”
The next page in the magazine has two images - one on top of the other. This is where the photos get even more strange. Both appear to have been either from a different location facing the object, or the object has turned to face the periscope. Some suggest the object changes shape. You no longer see a cigar-shaped object, but two very different representations. One must consider if the object were a balloon as many are suggesting, the view from the front or rear would appear circular in shape. We don’t see a circular object though. The top image looks more triangular in shape, and listed toward one side. The bottom image looks more elliptical. The inscription for this photo is translated to say “(Top) On this photo, we identify without a doubt a triangular-shaped UFO. It seems to be in trouble. (Bottom) If the order that we have chosen for these pictures is correct, the UFO here seems to now go sideways before plunging into the ocean…”
The next page in the magazine shows two photos that look similar, but with one distinguishing characteristic. While both show the object partially submerged into the water, the top photo shows what appears to be very high splashing of the water, with a majority of the object above water line. Some people on Reddit refer to the water as smoke, but to me it looks more like the affect water makes when something is dropped into it, or hits the surface of the water at high speed. The smoke in the first photograph has a cloudy appearance which doesn’t match this one. The second image shows the object submerged even more - about half-way, but with no splashes. To me this indicates the water from the other photo may have settled. These photos include the following inscription: “The next five photos show an egg-shaped object of large dimension that falls into the ocean. These pictures seem to come from another laboratory, SYGMA, about which we know nothing. Do these photos present a single and same event or are we dealing with two different events?”
Moving to the photos on the next page, they again show two images of a very similar object, however, I believe the object again varies in appearance compared to previous images. It looks closer to the camera, and to has changed shape again. This time, both images depict the object bleeding smoke. And I’m not sure if it’s some kind of artifact that shows up on each photo, but there is a small black object to the left in each of these pictures. Inscriptions read “(Top) The craft, which looks a lot like the one in the first picture, seems to be in trouble. Is it on fire? Does it come from the depths of the ocean or is it headed there? Despite the fact that its form perfectly resembles the typical "cigar" shape of UFOs, it is still impossible to distinguish more details of its structure. (Bottom) According to the letter from our "anonymous contact", the submarine was equipped with an analog camera, thus explaining the image overlay of the visible graduations.” I believe they’re referring to the scope markings.
The final picture is clearly a cigar-shaped object. With nothing else in the field of view, it’s hard to distinguish depth of field or estimate the scale of the object, but at first glance it appears huge - If I had to estimate, it looks to be about the size of a submarine itself, if not bigger. This time, the object appears undamaged and is floating parallel to the horizon. It resembles more of a zeppelin shape again, but near the right side, it almost appears as if there’s something between the object and the ocean. It’s almost as if water is coming out of the object or being sucked up into it. It’s a little blurry and hard to tell, but it’s definitely odd. The final inscription reads “Too beautiful to be real, this "cigar" photo? We don't know, it might be the "banana peel" that would be used to discredit the other pictures of the dossier...Who was our anonymous informer? A reader of the magazine or a source wanting to share their secret? In any event, if we haven't been able to find these photos on the internet, maybe a reader will give us some information that has evaded us…”
The translated inscriptions point out several things about the photos themselves which I am not sure what to make of. Some of the information depicted would require further knowledge about the object such as the proper order the images were taken, the direction of travel of the object, and assumptions about the object being “in trouble” or being shot by a missile. Without additional information, I don’t understand how these inscriptions could be more than mere speculation, but I’ll include the translations in my show notes for you to evaluate for yourself.
On July 8, 2015, the Black Vault site was updated with additional information from Mistretta. An investigator and former Navy Pilot named Steve Murillo was able to contact and have a discussion with Admiral Sackett who agreed to view the photos via email. He was quoted as stating “all I saw was ice”.
Another update to the Black Vault came on July 12, 2015 after another conversation with Admiral Sackett took place with Steve Murillo after the Admiral had a chance to review the photos. In addition, Alex Mistretta had managed to contact John Klicka, the officer who had reportedly spotted the UFO through the periscope. Both men denied seeing anything unusual while on the Trepang in the Arctic, and Sackett claimed he could not identify the objects in the photographs, though according to Mistretta, the Admiral thought the investigation was very interesting. I think it’s important to note that Mistretta states in his update here that he believes Sackett, and he has concluded that the Trepang did not have anything to do with the photographs. He also indicates the presence of another US submarine being in the same route about 1 month prior to the Trepang, which is the USS Skate, SSN 578.
Before any of you decide to make up your mind about these images or the denial of involvement in the taking of these photographs by Admiral Sackett and Officer Klika, remember these photographs indicated that the images were supposed to be confidential, and contained the text, “Security Certificate SSN 674”. This fact alone carries the implication that the statements of these two men may not be the truth. I don’t say this to discredit them, but to the contrary. Even after retirement, military personnel are expected to uphold the agreements made about information that required a security clearance. If the encounter had been deemed top secret, they could face penalties if they chose to disclose. While this doesn’t prove anything for or against the claim that these photos are of a UFO, these are details that should not go overlooked.
It’s also important to know that during the time these photos were reportedly taken, it has been confirmed that the Trepang did have orders to operate beneath the polar ice and conduct weapons testing. While it may not explain the photos, there are potential explanations regarding weapons testing that should be considered. Could this have all been part of a weapons test? Many on the Reddit forum, as well as the Black Vault website are convinced that the photos are nothing but a target balloon. Greenwald even has several photo examples of target balloons utilized by various countries. While I can certainly see some similarities to the more zeppelin-shaped photos, I’m not personally convinced all of the photographs can be explained by this theory. And one has to ask if a submarine would even have the capability of deploying such a balloon. Even if it could, why would photos of a balloon be considered classified? I suppose the weapons test itself could be considered classified at the time, so it would be logical to conclude that photographs involving the weapons test may be under that umbrella.
It’s viable that a balloon could have been deployed by another ship in the area, but we don’t have any documentation of any other ships in the same area at the time the Trepang was there. If you look at the example photos of target balloons, you’ll find that some are from the early 1900’s and are very small. Even modern target balloons are small in size compared to the appearance of this object. The balloon that looks most similar to the zeppelin-like photos is that of an British observation balloon that is actually manned. All of the balloon photos are spherical in shape. Even if we can rationalize that some of the photos could be a balloon, how would a balloon acquire a triangle shape, or make a huge splash in the water? Would a balloon that has been shot by weapons aboard the Trepang catch fire? Would any weapons aboard the Trepang even have the capability of taking down an aerial object? Some theories simply create more questions.
Another potential explanation we discussed for at least one or two of the photographs is that we’re actually looking at land, or at least another very large vessel, and it only appears as if there is air between the object and the surface of the water. To truly consider this theory, let’s think about how mirages work. I’m used to seeing them on the highway when I’m driving through the desert, but I’ve never seen one over the water, even in sunny Southern California. Mirages occur when the ground is very hot and the air is cool. The ground warms a bit of air just above the ground and when light moves from the cold air into the hot air, it is refracted. In other words the light bends it to create the illusion of transparency through a solid object. But could the surface of the water, or even the air for that matter, really be hot enough to cause this illusion… in the Arctic?
I have to tip my hat to John Greenwald and Alex Mistretta for the additional research that is ongoing in and around these photos. They were able to confirm the location of the Trepang at the time via the website, Hullnumber. And they were also able to confirm the presence of the Admiral and Officer Klika via the ship’s roster, which Greenwald retrieved from the National Archives.
The one disadvantage about discussing these photos on a podcast is obviously the inability to look at the photos together. I’d like to encourage you to go to deviatus.com to see these amazing photos, and to view my show notes where I have all of the links mentioned. I have to say, these photos look genuine to me. I’m no expert, and we may not be able to further authenticate them without the negatives, but something about them really stood out to me when I first saw them. As I said, I believe all theories should be looked into that could potentially explain what we’re seeing in these photographs. Personally, I’m left with many questions but I’d like to get your thoughts… Are these pictures of the same object? Do you believe they’re faked? Do you think we’re looking at a target balloon? Or do you believe these could possibly be some of the best photos of a UFO that we have come across to date? Hopefully we’ll continue to uncover more information about them, but for now, I’m forced to only speculate.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of Deviatus. If this is your first time listening to the show, the format of this episode is quite different from my typical interview-style with a guest. For those of you who regularly tune in, I’m interested to hear your thoughts about this style of show, and if you’d be interested in more like it for upcoming episodes. Either way, I would absolutely appreciate it if you would consider rating and reviewing the show on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher. It helps other people who are interested in this type of content to find the show, and it fuels my fire to keep producing Deviatus for your entertainment at no cost to you.
As usual, you can find all of my show notes and previous episodes at Deviatus.com. For this episode, I’m posting the entire transcribed text in my show notes, along with all of the images mentioned and a ton of links - the show notes will be packed, so head over to the website to get the full scope of the discussion. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram @deviatuspod. I also have a Facebook Page you can get updated information on as well. Thanks so much for listening, and have a great week!
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