Flying a neutral flag did not guarantee Portuguese ships the freedom to cross the seas without supervision of the belligerent countries. The oceans can become sparse when naval powers scrutinize every wave looking for adversaries and the possibility of neutrals suffering some kind of consequences – intentionally or accidentally – is quite high.

Portuguese ships – merchant or fishing – were unable to escape the effects of the war.

Inspections on the high seas were the least dramatic of the situations to which they were subjected. More serious were inspections that involved detours to ports that could be hundreds of miles away from the routes they followed. Fuel costs increased and arrival dates were extended on the calendar.

The removal of bags of mail and cargo from inside the ships caused even more complications. Several passengers, of different nationalities, were also forced to interrupt their trips when they were captured by navies from enemy countries. These incidents happened more times than you might think.  

Attacks on ships and, in at least a dozen situations, sinking as a result of these attacks were the most difficult situations that the crews faced. They left a record of several dozen deaths.

In this chapter we will address these occurrences and the effects they had on Portuguese ships.

The Sinking of the Alpha

Alpha Captain: José Ferreira de Oliveira Type: Cargo Steamer Tonnage: Owner: Sociedade Luso-Marítima  Homeport: Lisbon Construção/Built: Acontecimento/Event: Sunk in the English Channel by German Planes Meet the Alpha Crew The German planes approached from the Southeast dropping bombs and firing machine-gun bursts. Because of the … Read more