Summoned the night of July 28,
red distress flares eighty miles off the Brasilian coast, the
Mormacelm, Capt. Sven E. Roos, master, arrived almost twenty-six hours
later at Vitoria, Brasil, towing the disabled Brasilian fishing boat,
Lying helplessly adrift for over six hours, the
Viana, skippered by Capt. Francisco Gomez and owned by Manuel Santos
Viana of Rio, broke its propeller shaft ten hours after leaving Vitoria with
ice for its catch. The fishing vessel, carrying a crew of 32, had no radio
operator or radio equipment aboard, and no one who could read Morse blinker.
So helpless she had to remain until aid could be summoned from a passing
ship. Earlier in the day a British ship reportedly passed within visual
range but did not stop.
At 7:15 P.M., the July 28,
1959, 2nd officer Sig Falch, on duty
on the bridge of the Mormacelm,
spotted red flares at 20 miles, 47
degrees off his port bow. Capt. Roos, was called to the con, immediately placed
the vessel on standby and proceeded slowly towards the distress area. Chief
officer Joe Davis, meanwhile, tried to establish blinker contact. He had no
success. The Rosa Viana's
only reply was repeated blinking with a
flashlight. Radio operator Lou Bastone tried calling on the distress
frequencies, 500 and 2182 Kcs. He too, received no reply. Capt. Roos came as
close as he could, then stopped his vessel.
Lights appeared suddenly on the
shortly after a 12-foot dory with three men aboard put out on the choppy
waters. Rowing against the current and moderate easterly breeze, the dory
tied up alongside the Mormacelm
twenty minutes later. Chief engineer
Manuel Cardosa Santos climbed aboard.
Chief officer Davis, the only one aboard who could speak
fluent Portuguese, quickly learned the trouble with the
He informed Capt. Roos who subsequently ordered him and 1st engineer Ralph
Gervais to take a motor lifeboat over to the
back Captain Gomez. Capt. Roos, after consultation with Captain Gomez,
decided to stand by until daybreak. When no radio advice was forthcoming at
that time he decided the next best thing was to tow the
into Vitoria himself. A contract agreement was
signed by both masters and at 8:45 A.M. the tow to Vitoria began. Radio messages received later told of a
tug having been dispatched. This was found to be untrue. It was only after
anchoring in Vitoria Roads for over two hours that a tug finally did appear.
She identified herself as the Gobernador,
and officially relinquished
from further distress responsibility.
At 12:15 A.M., 29 hours after she came on the scene, the
gave three long and one short blasts on her whistle in a
token of farewell. Shortly after she was back on course for Rio carrying her
load of stateside general cargo.
The New York Board of Trade selected Captain S. E. Roos,
master of the Mormacelm, as the winner of its 1959 Tradition of the Sea
award. The award was presented at a luncheon at the Seamen's Church