Although many of you sound sequestration ship "Achille Lauro", conducted by Palestinian extremists 7 October 1985, after he left the port of Alexandria (Egypt) carrying a 480 people aboard a Mediterranean cruise, I am sure you are more unknown which could be seen as the first hijacking of a passenger ship (at least for political purposes). History, which reminded me a few days ago my friend Miguel Ferro, occurred well:
January 1961 the assault on the passenger ship "Santa Maria" was held. That incident, at that time, It was a remarkable event in protest against dictatorship of Oliveira Salazar and Franco, and introduced the practice, years later was widely used, to hijack ships and aircraft for political purposes.
The "Santa Maria" sailed from Lisbon 9 January 1961 in one of his regular trips to Central America, arrived at the port of La Guaira in Venezuela 20 January. Among the passengers who embarked on this port, there was a group of 20 Member (seems that the Spanish half, and including, one clan Gallego) the "Directorio Revolucionario Ibérico de Liberación", a structure composed of opponents of Franco and Salazar regimes, whose leader was "Henrique Galvão ". Galvão was exiled in Venezuela since November 1959.
This particular boat was chosen to be a much better target the various Spanish ships used to travel to Central America. Captain Galvão, with his men, was about to sail on the Santa Maria to the Spanish colony of Fernando Poo, Gulf of Guinea. After "conquer", His plan was to attack Luanda and, from Angola, start a targeted action to bring down governments in Lisbon and Madrid.
Returning to our, vessel, this was an ocean liner owned by the Portuguese Colonial Navigation Company. This Company, that 1951 possessed of ten vessels, commissioned the construction of two modern units to replace Mouzinho (1929-1954) and Serpa Pinto (1940-1955). The Santa Maria was built in the shipyards John Cockerill SA. Hoboken, Belgium, Following the pattern 20-20-20, namely, 20000 tons displacement, 20000 horsepower and 20 knots. Hoboken Fire launch took place in the 20 September 1952 and delivered to the shipping company in Antwerp 20 September 1953. It entered service on 22 October of the same year.
At 01.45 AM del 22 January 1961 was launched "Operation Dulcinea". A group of armed men burst into the bridge of the ship taken by surprise sailors and officers that were there. Both, three guerrillas took the radio station.
To reduce the crew shots that killed the third officer and wounded two other sailors who tried to resist were made. The command took control of all essential units for boat launch, including the engine room, and demanded the captain Maia will take the command of the ship. No arms to oppose the designs of Galvão, Maia and his officers agreed to surrender and hand over control of the Santa Maria kidnappers. However, Maia Galvão required to choose between their crew and join him, become prisoners of war, or collaborating with the rebels to keep the ship operational, selecting the third option crew, that allowed them to ensure passenger safety and preserve ─ under the supervision of the revolutionary control ─ ship.
For the success of Operation Dulcinea kidnappers cut communications ship for not informing its position. In order to avoid detection by submarines and to mislead the surface radar, Advised by his knowledge only member with nautical command, Galvão ordered Captain who adopted the tactic ─ ─ the ship sailed zigzag, knowing that meant slower progress and increased fuel consumption.
The next day, Galvão and his guerrillas informed passengers that the vessel had been hijacked, calling for calm and tranquility. They announced that the ship, thereafter, called "Holy Liberdade" and, due to the possible duration of the trip, adopt certain restrictions on food. The passage that sooner or later they would land safely in a friendly port was assured. That day afternoon, and in view of the gravity of two wounded crew, Santa Maria changed course trying to reach, as quickly as possible, the island of Saint Lucia (in the Caribbean Sea).
On the morning of 23, are sent to the consignee in Florida, a radiotelegram warning that had sprung a setback in the engine room and the ship would be delayed. Later, the ship docked on the island of St. Lucia and the two wounded landed beside the physician and the boat's crew. Because of this unexpected scale, the world knew the ship hijacking.
The news came to the front pages of newspapers around the world. The British Admiralty said the frigate HMS Rothesay to find the Santa Maria and ordered the enlistment of the frigate HMS Ulster, moored in Bahamas. The zigzag steamer sailed along the northern coast of South America and Franco and Salazar were beginning to worry about the huge international repecusión. The latter ordered the mobilization of "Marinha" Portuguese and requested the intervention of the United States and Britain.
To avoid being accused of piracy, guerrilla avoided touching 40.000 dollars of safe ship. The organization sought international recognition of the act against what they considered a national illegitimate government. For this purpose, never flag was lowered Portugal. The intention was that the act was considered a Portuguese "internal" problem.
The U.S. government chaired by Kennedy, newcomer to the White House, took the initiative and was responsible for finding steam. The headquarters of the U.S. Navy in the West Indies ordered the departure of Wilson and Damato displacement destroyers and nuclear submarine Seawolf, with orders to locate the Santa Maria.
The 25 January, the ship was spotted by the Danish reefer Fishe Gulua some 900 miles from Trinidad. And the 26, an American plane spotted what some 700 miles from the mouth of the Amazon en route to Africa.
The crew, advantage of the almost total ignorance of nautical themes kidnappers, performed small acts of sabotage: false information on the quantities of water and fuel, waste fuel, secret use of radio, etc.. Galvão decided to severely ration water. Such restrictions exasperated the steerage passengers, the largest, forcing men of the command to be distracted from their tasks to maintain order among the passengers.
Galvâo realized they were located and began clan tensions between Galician and Galvâo.
The First Lord of the Admiralty ordered to follow the Portuguese passenger ship without use of force. In a statement made in the House of Commons said that the Government of His Majesty, by its traditional alliance with Portugal under color of international law on piracy and the fact that the kidnapping had occurred in international waters, had every right to intercept the transatlantic Portuguese flag "Santa Maria".
Admiral Smith of the U.S. Navy, radio negotiates a personal interview with Galvão. This Santa Maria accepts and directs its course towards Cape San Roque (Northeast of Brazil). Until this interview, materialize, Galvão "accepts the protection of U.S. ships against possible attacks by the Portuguese and Spanish fleet”.
The 31 January 1961 Brazilian President Juscelino Kubischek ended its mandate and ceded the post to Jânio Quadros, Humberto Delgado who Henrique Galvão and considered a potential “friend and ally”. Delgado proposed to elect president, disembarking passengers in Brazil and continue traveling to Africa to launch his planned revolution in the Portuguese colonies.
Both Kubitschek as Quadros refused to engage in a purely political Portuguese problem and stated that the best option would be Galvão and his men desembacaran passengers in Brazil, and then the fate of the ship and her kidnappers be discussed.
The 28 January Admiral Allen Smith moved to Santa Maria and maintains a three-hour interview with Galvão.
It remains hermoso transatlantic days al Pair, outside Brazilian territorial waters, waiting for the result of the efforts of Humberto Delgado in Brazil.
The Portuguese and Spanish press described the kidnapping as an act of piracy, even though the intention was merely propaganda. In Spain the operation as a problem of the independence of Portugal and its African colonies appeared.
Journalist and paratrooper Gil Delamarre, agreement foresaw ─ ─ radio with Galvão, the 31 January at noon parachuted onto the deck of the ship to interview.
The 2 February morning, this time escorted by ships of the Brazilian Navy, Santa Maria anchored in a port of Pernambuco, amid a great expectation.
Humberto Delgado embarked and held a meeting with Galvão first, to then maintain a full Board meeting, which decided to disembark passengers and negotiate with the Brazilian authorities.
The passengers were landed, with crew, under the protection of the Brazilian navy infantry. However, the fate of the ship and her kidnappers was not defined as expected Galvão still go to Africa, and unhindered representing passengers.
The Brazilian government, although reluctant to let go transatlantic with men aboard Galvão and so exposed to a claim by the government of Portugal, did not want to take the ship by force. A Galvao and his men were given political asylum.
Revolutionaries do not want to give up its ambitious plan to stimulate an authentic African revolt against Oliveira Salazar. However, faced several problems for plan: needed a crew to operate the ship, and fuel, food and water to cross the Atlantic, but it would not be easy or enlist a crew or get the necessary funds.
Finally the liner became a heavy and unnecessary burden on Galvão, I could not use the ship for their own purposes. Given the situation, day 3 February at 18:30, Galvao and his men laid down their arms and surrendered the ship Admiral Fernandes Brazilian Days, accepting asylum offered by Brazil.