President George Vella has described the Santa Marija convoy as ‘probably one of the most decisive episodes in Malta’s recent past.’
President Vella made the address during the 77th anniversary of Operation Pedestal, the sea-based convoy that brought food and fuel to Malta during its most dire moments of the Second World War.
The main convoy arrived in the Grand Harbour on August 15th 1942, the feast of Santa Marija. The stricken tanker USS Ohio was towed into the harbour surrounded by the remaining vessels from the voyage. It is reported that the arrival was marked with the sound of Rule Britannia and onlookers paying their respects to the crews and ships. Ohio is reported to have transferred its 12,000 tonnes of fuel from its tanks before the ship settled at the bottom.
Attending the event were dignitaries from the British High Commission and US Embassy, Malta Emigrants’ Commission Monsignor Alfred Vella and Chancellor of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral Reverend Simon Godfrey. The dignitaries were also joined by relatives of the sailors who took part of Operation Pedestal.
President Vella told the audience that, ‘we remember and salute the victims of Operation Pedestal and others who bravely gave their lives to protect peace and stability in Europe and the Mediterranean.’