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Brazil remained neutral in the early years of the war. However, as of February 1942, several Brazilian merchant ships began to be torpedoed, in reprisal of Brazil's adherence to the commitments made, through the Atlantic Charter, when our country reinforced its support for the Allies. The Axis offensive against Brazilian merchant shipping culminated in August of that year, when a single German submarine sank five merchant ships and one yacht, all of Brazilian flag, resulting in the death of 607 people. In the face of numerous attacks, on August 31, 1942, the Brazilian government declared Nazi Germany and fascist Italy a "State of War".

In the act of declaring war, the Brazilian Navy had limited knowledge and insufficient means to conduct an anti-submarine war, comparing to the great squadrons operating in the North Atlantic and Pacific, because our ships were not equipped with modern sonars and armaments for this type of conflict. This, however, did not prevent ships and crews, heroically, from engaging in anti-submarine warfare, taking the risks of unequal combat.
In this context, and attentive to our needs, the High Naval Administration carried out a rapid and intense restructuring process, aiming at preparing the Force for that new scenario, enabling the reception of naval resources and armaments adequate to anti-submarine warfare, as well as knowledge of new doctrines of operational employment and the indispensable training of our personnel, enabling them to operate modern hitherto unknown vessels.
Thus, in a joint decision in the United States-Brazil Joint Defense Commission, a single command was established for the South Atlantic Force, and the Northeast Naval Force (FNNE) was created by Notice No. 1661, dated October 5, 1942, whose command was assigned to Commander Alfredo Carlos Soares Dutra, soon promoted to Rear Admiral. His attributes of leadership and professionalism, combined with his skill, were essential to overcoming obstacles to the proclamation of a Naval Force.

The Naval Force of the Northeast was initially constituted by the Cruisers Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul; by Carioca, Caravelas, Camaquã and Cabedelo Minesweepers - later reclassified as Corvettes - and by the Guaporé and Gurupi Submarine Chasers. Later on, the Tender Belmonte, the Mahan Class destroyer and the Class T submarine were incorporated. These facilities became Task Force 46 of the South Atlantic Force, responsible for making the largest operational effort in the sea.

The main task assigned to our Navy was to ensure the protection of the sea lanes that extended between Trinidad in the Caribbean and Florianópolis. 575 convoys were safely escorted, with 3,164 merchant ships, including the escort of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) to Gibraltar. During the conflict, the operational effort undertaken by the Northeastern Naval Force was reflected in 66 attacks against the Nazi submarines, which allowed to keep open the maritime communication lines in the South Atlantic.
In early November 1945, with the end of World War II and with the certainty of duty fulfilled, Admiral Soares Dutra returned to Rio de Janeiro with his Naval Force. Certainly, the arduous and intense operational life of the Northeast Naval Force has brought with it several teachings that have contributed to the improvement of the tactics hitherto employed in our Navy and to the maintenance of free navigation on the Atlantic shipping lines.

Fourth Fleet grew rapidly and with the addition of Brazilian units during 1943, nearly 200 vessels of all kinds were under command of the brave Adm. Jonas Ingram, a jack of all trades. Until the end of 1944, Brazilian Navy took delivery and incorporated to FNN, (subordinated to the Fourth Fleet) 38 units. Two old Dreadnoughts, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, outclassed ships to battle a modern ASW, were useful for increasing the defensive means of the harbors of Recife and Salvador (Bahia), headquarters of Northeast and East Naval commands.

Moored, serving as floating fortress, they were in constant readiness to put to sea if necessary in view of an impending danger. Despite their apparent inactivity, their garrisons were submitted to constant and tough ASW drills with alternation of their duties, serving in other ships in convoy escorts and patrol sweeps.   In May 1943 an operational directive was issued from Adm Ingram in his flagship, cruiser Memphis. It gave the following attributions to Brazilian Task Force 46:1)

1) To provide regular escort to convoys TB Trinidad- Bahia and BT Bahia - Trinidad.

2) The force would join the train when sailing off Recife and would leave the same when the convoy proceeded back to Bahia.

3) Brazilian Air Force units which were under command of Adm.  Ingram, were designated as Task Force 49 and their assigned mission was to patrol the coastal waters as determined.

4) Air units would provide cover for the convoys as well ships sailing independently as determined in close cooperation with Brazilian and US air and surface units.

5) To engage in extensive A/S operations in conjunction with US/Brazilian units or independently when ordered.

6) To perform an exhaustive program of combat exercises aiming to achieve maximum preparedness and efficiency of crewmembers and equipment, and intensify anti submarine practices. The Northeast Naval Force (FNN), performed a truly remarkable job during the war in support to the Fourth Fleet. Its vessels participated of 575 convoys with a total of 3164 ships of all allied nations.

The high degree of preparedness was evidenced by the continuous Joint exercises program undertaken by the US and Brazilian Navy. The picture shows one US Destroyer Escort in ASW drill with one Brazilian sub and a Sub Chaser. In the detail a torpedo track can be seen passing underneath the Destroyer. Picture kindly sent by Francisco Freire, son of Commander Jose Freire who served aboard Brazilian Corvette Cananeia during the War.



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