domingo, 20 de abril de 2008


The support/hospital steamer GIL EANNES (1) just arrived Leixões in the 1952 season /(C) Foto Mar-Leixões).
The dory m/v SÃO RUY at Leixões, just arrived from Grand Banks and Greenland on the 20/10/1968 / (c) Photo Rui Amaro/.
The Portuguese White Fleet in the Tagus Estuary in the 40s, being in the first plan the Viana do Castelo auxiliary schooner GASPAR./(c) Press image/.
The Portuguese White Fleet In the Tagus Estuary on the 05/04/1954 /(c) Press image/.
While the six years of the WW2, the Portuguese seafarers, they were of the merchant, fishing or even war navy, never left crossing the oceans, although the tragic attacks then inflicted to their vessels and to prevent misfortunes, the government of Portugal complained to those of the belligerent countries, that they left worrying the Portuguese vessels, particularly those propelled exclusively by sails, despite many schooners already were equipped with auxiliary engines and the modern motor-vessels had taken part in those cod fishing seasons, besides the big and powerful side trawlers, which they came to the scene as from 1936, like the SANTA JOANA and the SANTA PRINCESA which among other fleets, were the formers fishing in the north-west of the Atlantic, even though in 1909 Portugal sent the ill-fated ELITE, the first Portuguese cod fishing trawler, which as minesweeper AUGUSTO DE CSTILHO, while WW1, was attacked and sunk by U-139,with loss of 6 of 42 men, near Azores, when she was convoying the liner San Miguel, which escaped to Ponta Delgada.
Then, it was decided with The Allied Forces and above all with The Axis Forces, that the cod fishing fleet, which was composed around of 45 vessels, would leave in May with two separate convoys of about 20 vessels each, though with radio telephone/TSF strict communications, except in case of full emergency. Both convoys would be commanded by two naval officers embarked in two support ships, respectively.
On this occasion, the hulls of those about 45 vessels having been wholly painted of white colour, showing on the respective backs the Portuguese flag, name and nationality painted in monumental dimensions and during dark time full illuminated, in order their identity to be recognized by the belligerent forces. Due to white colour of its hulls, which until then were of varied colours, the pertaining to dory fishing fleet passed to be called in the north-west frozen seas and not only, by the designation of WHITE FLEET (Frota Branca in Portuguese language), which drew out until its extinguishing in the seventies. Note that the hull of the actual training vessel NRP CREOULA, an old cod fishing auxiliary schooner and that of the ARGUS, nowadays hoisting the name of POLYNESIA, employed in Caribbean cruisings, at the beginning of the WW2 they were painted of ox blood colour with a yellow band, above of the water line. Typical colours of the Parceria Geral de Pescarias, Lda, Lisbon, shipowner of those two then modern and excellent four masts schooners, built in 1937. The first convoy, composed by the most powerful vessels, left Cascais Bay, near Lisbon, with the support/hospital steamer GIL EANNES ahead and the second convoy established by slowest vessels, amongst them the genuine old sailing schooner JULIA 1º, under command of then new steel motor-vessel SÃO RUY, left later that bay, which joined, already at sea the pure old sailing three masts schooners ANA MARIA and PAÇOS DE BRANDÃO outbound from river Douro, Oporto. The leaders GIL EANNES and SÃO RUY had on board the maritime authority representatives as the convoy leaders, those two mentioned naval officers, respectively one in each of those support ships.

During the passage, which led, sometimes, about thirty and such days, owing to lack of wind, the full speed vessels were obliged to reduce the progress, in order waiting for the slowest vessels. Some schooners were separated of the convoy due to the frequent gales. Then, the support vessels send radio telephone/TSF advices to the belligerents in order to safeguard the security of those untraced. Bad weather gone. All the vessels entered in formation, according the number of its position, which was supplied in the departure port. One or another season, all the convoy had to return to Cascais due damages or making water in any vessel that had to put into river Tagus, however as soon as repairs ready, all the convoy took again the north-west route.
Reached to Grand Banks of Newfoundland or Greenland waters, the convoys had order to disperse and follow the habitual routine in the exploration of the fishing-grounds, for what the captains already could communicate by radiotelephone ones with the others, giving wide to its considerations, what until there them had been prohibited for security reasons, excepting in need cases.
Completed the about six months campaign, the procedure was the same, with the formation of the same two convoys, which left the Grand Banks or Greenland bound to the homeland, stowing in their hatches the maximum of hundredweights of salted codfish, that they were able to catch and when arrived to the position, masterly determined near of the Portuguese coast, where the convoy exhausted, proceeding each vessel for her home port. Meanwhile with the above referred system, the Portuguese cod fishing vessels had no more being molested or attacked.
From the work of Alan Villiers “The Quest of the Schooner Argus” we are transcribing the excerpts, as follow: “In the 1942 season, fourth trip, the “ARGUS” sailed from Lisbon on May 21, and due to war, not called Ponta Delgada, Azores, where usually she embarked local fishing men -. (In the log book, it is read: “Visited in the sea by a HMS patrol vessel of F.M. Phillips, Tent. RNVR”). The Lieutenant Phillips must not have had doubts; therefore the schooner was already in the Grand Bank on the June 6. In this season, no much time was delayed there. On the June 9 entered in North Sydney harbour, for fish-bait. She must be had sorry of the idea of that visit, because she had stayed up to June 23, because had not found fish-bait in conditions. She was fishing in the strait of Davis since July 22 till September 3, date where she was full load. (During the war no trawlers were met into the strait of Davis and the only fishing men found there were Eskimos. The codfish was abundant). They had started from Store Hellefiske Bank on the September 3 and they had called Ponta Delgada, Azores, on the 17th and drop anchor in the Tagus Estuary, Lisbon, on the 22, after an absence of four months and one day.
In the 1943 season, fifth trip, the ARGUS weighing anchor from Lisbon on the May 31, incorporated in one of the two convoys. It was imposed yet the system of convoys, in order to become possible that the Portuguese cod fishing vessels continued still operating, all the belligerents were informed with necessary anticipation regarding to the convoys organization and dispersion. The most powerful schooners and the motor-vessels went directly for the strait of Davis fishery grounds and the smallest schooners for the Grand Bank. They did not call any ports. The ARGUS arrived in the strait of Davis on the June 23, where she was fishing up to September 8, which date where she was full load. Back to the river Tagus, Lisbon, still in convoy, directly, where she entered on the October 4, after of four months and four days season.
In the 1944 season, sixth trip, the ARGUS left Lisbon, in a convoy, on the May 17, reached the strait of Davis roads on the June 8, where she was fishing till September 9, at handle of an absence of the homeland of four months and 14 days.
In the 1945 season, seventh trip, the ARGUS started from Lisbon in convoy - the last convoy of pertaining to cod fishing vessels was this - on April 30. She arrived in the Grand Banks on the May 15 and there was fishing up till June 13. Later she followed directly for Greenland. She was fishing in the strait of Davis from June 23 till the August 24, when she was full load. Back for Lisbon on the September 12, after a campaign of four months and 13 days, carrying an enough good shipment”.
The war ended over on the 1945, May 5 with the surrender of Nazi Germany, for what the maritime routes having returned to normality, having left the menace of the submarines, particularly of the frightful U-BOOTS, despite for some time more the risk of the mines. Meanwhile the maritime convoys were deactivated!
While the conflict period, two Portuguese cod fishing schooners were attacked barbarously and sunken by U-boots in 1942. They were as follows.
The three masts auxiliary wooden schooner MARIA DA GLORIA, inbound to the Strait of Davis, U-Boot 94, 8 survivors rescued by the USCGCutter Sea Cloud, among them her captain, after some days sheltered in the dories and 36 had no same fate, they were no more traced.
The three masts auxiliary wooden schooner DELÃES, inbound for Oporto, at 600 miles from Greenland, U-boot 96, all crew saved by schooner LABRADOR, which fortunately coming on the same route.

Sources: amongst others were the following:
- Crónica dos navios da Marinha Portuguesa (Anais do Club Militar Naval)
- The Quest of the schooner Argus (Allan Villiers)
Rui Amaro (Oporto)

1 comentário:

Pedro Vasconcelos disse...

Neste link fica a "conversa possível" com alguém de Aruba, que nos informou sobre a situação do Argus em Janeiro de 2009:

Esperamos por respostas a algumas das perguntas sobre o leilão de 21 de Janeiro 2009.

Obrigado por divulgar as nossas memórias!