Maxi Card with EUROPA stamp issued at Madeira on Europa 2012 theme - "Visit...", postmarked at Funchal - Capital of Madeira, Portugal on May 09, 2012. Thank you Ana for this nice maxi card.
Paquete Santa Maria was Built between 1952 - 1953 in the shipyards of the Societe Anonyme John Cockerill, in Belgium. Its maiden voyage took place in November 1953, linking Portugal to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. It was the only Portuguese liner with regular connections to ports of the United States. In 1973, though still relatively new, she was sold to be dismantled in the Republic of China.
On January 23, 1961, a group of Portuguese and Spanish opposition movement members seized control of the Santa Maria, a 609-foot-long (186 m), 20,900-ton Portuguese luxury cruise liner. Also known as Operation Dulcinea, the code name given it by its chief architect and "leader" Henrique Galvão, it was a rebel terrorist operation against the Government of Portugal. The action has also been referred to as piracy, although it does not fit the international definition of piracy involving an attack of one vessel on another for private ends.
On January 23, 1961, the ship had 600 passengers and 300 crew members. Among the passengers were men, women, children, and 24 Iberian leftists led by Portuguese military officer and politician Henrique Galvão.
Henrique Galvão was a Portuguese military officer and political foe of Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, the head of the Estado Novo regime. Galvão had carefully planned the hijacking with the intention of waging war until Salazar was overthrown in Portugal and the overseas territories were subsequently offered independence. He planned on using the hijacking as a way to bring attention to the Estado Novo in Portugal and the related fascist regime in Francoist Spain.
The rebels boarded the ship in La Guaira harbour (Venezuela) and in Curaçao, disguised as passengers, bringing aboard suitcases. The suitcases had secret compartments to hide their weapons. The rebels, along with Henrique Galvao, seized the ship, ceased all communication, and killed one officer (3rd Pilot Nascimento Costa) and wounded several others in the process of taking complete command over the ship. The rebels forced crew members, along with the captain of the ship, Mário Simões Maia, to take the ship on a different course.
The whereabouts of the ship remained unknown for several days, until a massive United States search effort by air and sea uncovered and communicated with it in Mid-Atlantic. Thereafter, a fleet of United States naval vessels, including not less than four destroyers (some of which contained USMC infantry belonging to "G" Company, 2nd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, NC) under the command of Rear Admiral Allen E. Smith short-circuited Galvão's plans, when his forces surrounded the "Santa Maria" some fifty miles offshore of Recife, Brazil. The following day, Admiral Smith left his flag ship the USS Gearing and proceeded via launch to the "Santa Maria" to engage in negotiations with Galvão.
Because of an anticipated change of Presidencies in Brazil (the incoming President being more sympathetic to Galvão's political interests), it was not until the very next day that the Santa Maria, surrounded by United States naval vessels, entered the harbor of Recife. There, Galvão and his 24 leftist terrorists surrendered the Santa Maria, 600 passengers and crew of 300 to Brazilian authorities in exchange for political asylum.
Galvão later announced that his intentions were to sail to Angola, to set up a renegade Portuguese government in opposition to Salazar. Galvão's stories of these accounts were translated into English and into a book as Santa Maria: my crusade for Portugal (New York, 1961).