Thirty-three years ago, in the month of February, 1979, a merchant vessel named the Tamames, carrying a load of butane, left the port city of Alcudia on Majorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, heading to the city of Cartagena in southern Spain. The butane hauler belonged to CEPSA, a major player in the Mediterranean bunker fuel business. The ship’s captain, José Luis González, was a no-nonsense mariner who was very mindful of the delivery timetables, running a relatively tight ship.
The butane hauler’s humdrum routine would be forever interrupted on Tuesday, February 6 of that year — unlike horror yarns or sea stores [sic-stories], no sudden gales appeared out of nowhere, no rogue waves smashed against the ship. At 21:00 hours, only few leagues distant from the island of Formentera, the duty officer approached the captain to say that an unknown vessel was visible to the south of the ship, on a westward heading. The duty officer, however, was unable to see the proper number of running lights on the vessel. Other bridge personnel soon noticed that the object had two lights, suggesting a normal vessel, possibly another merchantman. Their satisfaction at having unraveled a minor mystery soon gave way to alarm as the number of lights on the horizon began to multiply, becoming four, then six, then ten.
Captain González asked for his binoculars and noticed, to his astonishment, that the sky immediately over the lights had turned orange; the lights now arranged themselves into unusual patterns — side by side at times, vertical at others, and finally a horizontal layout. Of particular note was a light that seemed to be producing the kind of smoke associated with a flare. His officers agreed that it was probably a vessel in distress and the Tamames changed course to render assistance. The radar operator, however, noted that he was unable to pick up any objects on the horizon, even thought [sic-though] the coastlines of Majorca, Formentera and the Spanish mainland were crisply outlined. The radio man observed that the stricken ship — if that’s what it was — did not issue any calls for help.
The Tamames assistance mission found itself brought to an abrupt halt when the lights suddenly vanished from sight, along with the odd orange luminescence. Captain González ordered a new course change back to Cartagena, upset, no doubt, at the delay caused by his earlier decision. But the radar — this time witnessed by all present — began displaying highly unusual signals that remained constant until nearly midnight. Bizarre radar echoes plagued the ship, suggesting they were approaching something. The echoes vanished a few miles away from the vessel and reappeared from all directions.
The thoroughly unusual situation prompted the captain to radio other ships in the area to find out if they were encountering a similar anomaly; a lighthouse station near Cartagena replied that no naval maneuvers had been scheduled for the area. The radar echoes kept appearing and disappearing, leaping around the butane hauler like invisible acrobats. The situation was insensibly changing from annoying to disturbing.
At 0300 hours, Captain González contacted the lighthouse authorities again, requesting confirmation that no military maneuvers were indeed being carried out and describing the conditions experienced by the Tamames. Astonishingly — and possibly a “first” in maritime history — the watch officer at the lighthouse wondered openly if Captain González might be seeing a UFO. Given the strangeness of the situation he found himself in, the captain suggested that any explanation would do at this point. In all his years at sea, he had never faced a similar predicament. The lighthouse officer explained that only a few days later, a foreign ship had reported the presence of a UFO not far from the Tamames’ present coordinates.
In spite of the unusual and frank exchange, the captain never truly believed that his ship was at the mercy of intergalactic pirates and restricted his entry in the ship’s log to the strange lights and bizarre radar echoes.
Things would become “curiouser and curiouser” in coming days, when an official explanation for the anomaly was put forth: the crew of the Tamames had seen students from a military school conducting nocturnal parachute drops carrying flares in their hands. Captain González was far from convinced by the explanation: these alleged maneuvers had taken place seventy-five miles away from his ship’s position, and inland, to boot.
Reference for the above text is: Inexplicata – The Journal of Hispanic Ufology, “Ships and Saucers: UFOs at Sea” by Scott Corrales, IHU (Institute of Hispanic Ufology). Posted March 01, 2012, and retrieved March 03, 2012.
UFOCAT PRN – 153588
UFOCAT URN – 153588 UFO News Clipping Service by Lucius Farish, June 15, 1979, from Murcia newspaper La Verdad dated February 07, 1979
Europe – Spain, Islas Baleares
Alcudia Latitude 38-42-00 N, Longitude 001-28-00 E (D-M-S) [populated place]
Majorca Latitude 38-30-00 N, Longitude 003-00-00 E [island]
Balearic Islands Latitude 39-30-00 N, Longitude 003-00-00 E [first-order administrative division]
Cartagena Latitude 37-36-18 N, Longitude 000-59-10 W [populated place – Murcia]
Formentera Latitude 38-42-00 N, Longitude 001-28-00 E [island]
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