In 1982, a bewildering UFO incident was reported by Captain Stefan Freitag, commander of a Romanian Merchant Marine cargo ship named the ‘Bocsa’. The incident occurred just below the equator, two days after the ship had departed from Tubarao, Brazil, on September 17th.

Freitag recalled the incident vividly. Around 21:00 hours, the duty officer had just verified their position through a navigation satellite, pinpointing their location at 11°37′ southern latitude and 33°28′ western longitude. This placed them close to the boundary of the 200 sea-mile limit of Brazilian territorial waters.

As the sun had just dipped below the horizon, a satellite was visible crossing the night sky. The officer, fascinated by the sight, declared, “I see a satellite.” Intrigued, Freitag joined him on deck. The object they were observing emitted a green lateral glow, which could have been easily mistaken for an airplane traversing the sky from South America to Africa.

However, the oddity didn’t end there. The officer alerted Freitag to another sighting, exclaiming, “Look over there, another satellite!” This marked the beginning of an extraordinary sequence of phenomena that would later be documented among cases where UFOs have been scientifically reported as unidentified flying objects.

Freitag, hoping to get a clearer look, moved to the other side of the deck. There, he spotted a pale red, full-moon-like object. Adjacent to it, a bright “star” gradually intensified before it expanded to match the size of the first object, after which it faded and vanished, leaving behind a shimmering cloud.

A third “moon” appeared in the sky, identical to its predecessors. This time, however, it exploded into a dazzling orange radiance. Within moments, a Saturn-like ring materialized around the pale object, its glow augmenting the spectacle.

Beckoning his crew to witness the spectacle, fourteen men joined him on deck as Freitag captured a few sequences of the spectacle on film. The ship’s physician and boatswain also managed to document the phenomena in photographs. Meanwhile, a fourth “moon” appeared, undergoing the same phases as the third, including the formation of a radiant crown of rays.


Suddenly, the “star” enlarged at a rapid pace, creating an illusion of a celestial body hurtling towards the ship. This sight sparked panic among the crew, who rushed towards the ship’s interior. The ship’s dog, Lord, added to the chaos with his anxious howling.

The objects abruptly halted, radiating a spectral array of rainbow colors amidst a flickering luminescence, before they gradually faded and vanished, leaving behind a phosphorescent cloud. This sequence was repeated with a fifth object.

Freitag emphasized that the entire spectacle unfolded in eerie silence, with no detectable heatwaves. However, a Geiger counter—regrettably brought out too late—registered increased radiation within the ship and among the crew. It counted 5 rads outside, 6 rads on the fourteen crewmen who had observed the phenomena, and 7 rads on the ship’s exterior.

After the objects vanished, the residual luminous clouds could be observed for almost half an hour. The ship was bathed in a glow that rivaled the brightness of a full moon night, despite the absence of the moon. The clouds themselves radiated a peculiar greenish-blue light.

On September 18, a mere day after the confounding spectacle experienced aboard the ‘Bocsa’, a parallel report emerged. The ‘Tenchbank’, a British ship en route from South Africa to Bermuda, reported witnessing a series of seven similar phenomena.

These sightings, eerily similar to the account from the ‘Bocsa’, occurred slightly closer to the equator, intensifying the enigma. Captain David Johanson of the ‘Tenchbank’, united in the shared mystery, reached out to Captain Freitag. By then, Freitag had sought an explanation from the Coast Guard, to no avail.

Regrettably, the Coast Guard’s silence left Freitag, Johanson, and their bewildered crews without the sought-after clarifications. What began as routine voyages had transmuted into an unsettling conundrum that stirred the maritime community into speculation. The question of what they had truly encountered in the vast expanse of the ocean remained unanswered, fueling an enduring mystery that continues to resonate within the maritime community.

Reference: This article is based on an interview with Captain Stefan Freitag and reporter Edmund Hof, originally appearing in NEUER WEG (Bucharest) on November 13, 1982. The translation of the article was performed by Gerhard Cordier, and the content was initially circulated in an Australian UFO Research Newsletter in 1983.

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