Corvette Ex-NRP Oliveira e Carmo F489
Jorge Manuel Catalão Oliveira e Carmo
(Alenquer, 1936 – Diu, 1961)
Oliveira e Carmo was born in Santo Estêvão, council of Alenquer, on September 26th 1936.
After completing his secondary education at the Liceu Pedro Nunes, he enrolled at the Armed Forces School in October 1954, and would later take the course "D. Duarte de Almeida" at the Naval School. In May 1958 he was promoted to the Navy and in December to Second Lieutenant.
He served at Superintendent level in the Armed Services and in the Command of the patrol flotilla, and was Chief of Combat Information, Navigation and Artillery Services on several ships. He served on board the patrol boats "Boa Vista" and "Porto Santo" and on the "Pêro Escobar" frigate.
In 1961 he was named commander of the inspection boat "Vega" , a "micro-warship" made up of a 20mm machine gun and an eight-man garrison to guarantee the maritime defence of Diu. Just as with the "Afonso de Albuquerque", on December 17th 1961 the "Vega" was involved in confrontations with the Indian Union, being overflown by eight Indian Air Force jets and attacked by the "Delhi" cruiser. Obeying orders from the Army Chief of Staff, it was seen as an unequal confrontation because Portugal, in India, had scant and scarce means and had been taken by surprise by the immense and robust arsenal (and its effective use) of the Indian Union:
Sailing in a zigzag pattern, Oliveira e Carmo managed to avoid his ship being struck several times. In the end though, the inevitable happened. A welter of incendiary projectiles and explosives hit the boat head-on, seriously injuring him, killing seaman Ferreira and igniting the munitions that were on the deck. A short time after the immobilised ship was subjected to a second wave of attack, he lost his life and three more sailors were seriously injured.
With the boat on fire and munitions exploding, the six remaining sailors, three of them seriously injured, jumped into the water. Seaman Cardoso da Silva, who was a good swimmer, managed to reach a raft and he steered it towards his comrades, while the waters swallowed up the Vega. After helping the gravely injured Jardino and Bagoim to board the raft, due to Freitas being a weak swimmer, he tied the straps of his life jacket to the raft and with his body and eyes covered in oil. He started to swim, towing the raft towards dry land, a feat he managed in seven hours! During this time, Jardino died.
Seaman Nobre, thinking he was the last surviving crewmember, swam towards the coast of the Indian Union and he managed to reach it. Ramos, the cabin boy, with his legs seriously injured, managed to reach dry land near a fort which, at that moment, was being intensely bombarded by the Delhi cruiser.
Shrouded in white so that, according to him, "I would die with more honour ", Oliveira e Carmo died heroically on December 18th, from shots to the chest, after his legs had already been riddled with machine gun fire. His ship sank with two sailors from his garrison also dead and with five others surviving, three of whom were seriously injured.
The Commander became patron of the Oliveira e Carmo vessel, 1962 - 1967. He was posthumously decorated with the Military Order of the Tower and Sword (O. D. A. Nº172 3-2-1962) and with the Military Bravery Medal, and promoted to Lieutenant Captain (Decree-Law44972, 11th of April O/A. Nº 9, 17-4-1963).
In September 1962, tribute was paid on the Portuguese banks of the river Zaire to the heroes of the "Vega", in which a flotilla of patrol boats from the Portuguese Navy that patrolled the river built a patio at their command headquarters with a stone memorial, a ceremony attended by the Navy Minister in Angola.
In September 1987, a memorial was unveiled in tribute in his native Portugal.
On December 18th and 19th 2001, on the 40th Anniversary of the naval conflict in India, a solemn march to the Jerónimos Monastery took place; the inauguration, at the Navy Museum, of the new permanent museum exhibition covering naval combat in India; the launch of a Commemorative Medal remembering the names of those who died in combat (in the service of the "Vega" and the 1st Class vessel, the "Afonso de Albuquerque"); a ceremony in tribute to Commander Oliveira e Carmo, in Alenquer, and a silence held in tribute at the Naval Academy.
In 2010, on June 10th, homage was again paid to Commander Oliveira e Carmo in Lisbon, at the Combatants Monument, at the XVIIth National Convention of Combatants in homage to the soldiers who died serving Portugal. Speeches were given by the President of the Commemorations Commission, Admiral Vidal Abreu, Admiral Pires Neves, a student of the "Oliveira e Carmo" course the year after the Commander's death, and Mrs Maria do Carmo Oliveira e Carmo, his widow.
On September 25th 2011, in his home city, a tribute was held to mark the 75th anniversary of his birth, a date that was also close to the 50th anniversary of his death. The ceremonies consisted of the unveiling of a further commemorative plaque (the fifth such tribute to the Commander) on the pedestal of his existing statue in the Alenquer Civic Gardens, the celebration of a mass in his honour and a remembrance ceremony where Admirals Nunes da Cruz ("Chief of Staff" of the "Oliveira e Carmo" vessel) and Pereira Germano (spokesman for the "D. Duarte de Almeida" vessel), and the President of Alenquer City Council (Captain Jorge Mendes Riso) all gave speeches about the Commander.