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So Paulo

On 14 February 2017, the Brazilian Navy announced that it would suspend the modernization of carrier NAe Sao Paulo (A12) and commence its demobilization and subsequent decommissioning. Brazil's Ministry of Defence on 01 December 2017 authorised the navy to begin efforts to purchase the UK Royal Navy's HMS Ocean landing platform helicopter (LPH). The Brazilian Navy requested this authorisation in early 2017 after a decision to retire its NAe So Paulo aircraft carrier. The Royal Navy said the LPH could be available for sale once decommissioned in March 2018. Ocean would be inspected by Brazilian Navy officers before that, while authorisation from the US government is also being requested as the ship has some US-built components.

The purchase would be negotiated for a good price, something just over R$350 million, to be paid in installments. With this acquisition, the possibility of a possible recovery program of the aircraft carrier NAe A-12 So Paulo, deactivated 10 months earlier, is ruled out. The revitalization and modernization would cost more than R$1.2 billion.

The Navio-Aerdromo [Ship-Aerodrome] "So Paulo" was the flag-ship of the Brazilian Squadron. It replaced the "Minas Gerais", already with more than 40 years of use. The "So Paulo" was new, bigger, quicker and with bigger operational capacity that its predecessor, with excellent state of conservation.

Of the nine countries (Brazil, France, India, Italy, Russia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the United States) that currently possess ship-aerodrome or ships of amphibious assault, endowed with deck of opened flight, only four (Brazil, USA, France and Russia) possess embarked aircraft of conventional type, while six (Spain, USA, Great-Britain, India, Italy and Thailand) operate aircraft STOVL.

The old French Foch was bought to substitute the aged Minas Gerais for a bargain: US$ 12 million in 2000. Only it came "bare" and without the main thing, the airplanes. The government then made another one "good business": US$70 million for a flotilla of used A-4 fighters from Kuwait. The problem was that the A-4 did not possess operational armament, or the ones that wwere in flight condition would not have the form to participate in combat. The So Paulo practically only serves to train the pilots to land and to take off of the deck. The acquisition showed an arguable ambition from the strategical point of view, as the entire capability was simply preparation for future comabt capabilities decades more hence.

The President of the Republic, Fernando Enrique Cardoso, in the ceremony of transference of subordination of the ship-aerodrome "So Paulo" for the operative sector of the navy of Brazil - Port of Santos/SP, noted "The transference of the Ship-Aerodrome "So Paulo" for the Operative Sector of the Navy adds to our Naval Power important magnifying of its capacity of defense of the Brazilian interests in the sea. A country as ours, possessing of the extensive coast, with more than 7 a thousand kilometers of coast, requires a compatible Naval Power with its stature in the international scene.

"Today, as yesterday, the Brazilian State is worried in implementing measured concrete that offers to the nation the guarantee of respect to its sovereignty. We are and we will always be a nation that fights for the peace, what it does not mean to be able to do without modern Armed Forces, able and endowed with adjusted potential dissuasrio. Few countries, still today, have capacity to operate with efficiency in high-sea. It is important that Brazil continues to be one of them."

Since its construction it passed for diverse updates of equipment and sensors, what it leaves apt to still fulfill it perfectly its mission for a good time. With this acquisition our Navy will be able to far operate its aerial ways of the Brazilian coast, where the interests it country will be in game. 23 huntings bombing A-4 Skyhawk had been acquired, assigned Af-1 here to compose the aerial group of the "So Paulo", together with the existing helicopters already in the inventory of that Force. The beginning of the operative life of the "So Paulo", associated to the acquisition of the airplanes of AF-1 combat, represents landmark of new phase of the Brazilian Naval Force. Its transference for the Squadron to consolidate the operational capacity of the aviation of embarked fixed wing. It gives the Navy the projection and the stature that the Nation awaits.

The aircraft carrier "So Paulo" was constructed in France, in the period of 1957 the 1960, having served to the French National Navy under the name "FOCH". Its attainment for the Brazilian Government in September 2000, still in an operational state, was an unknown process for a ship of this transport, having been received in only two months and fifteen days and incorporated on 15 November 2000. The incorporations of the "So Paulo" and the AF-1 to the Navy of Brazil made possible the concretion of the old yearning of the Force, of being able to carry through the aerial defense of the naval forces from embarked aircraft of fixed wing.

Its crew consists of approximately 1,300 military (80 officers and 1,220 enlisted). This number can be raised for 2000 men, given the composition of the Destacamento Areo Embarcado (DAE), that it in accordance with varies the nature and intention of the missions attributed to Fora-Tarefa which will be integrated.

In the first three years of service, the ship carried through important missions, some in the foreig waters, such as Operation "ARAEX", where it made possible the maintenance of the qualification of the pilots of the Argentina Armed Forces, and, currently, it has looked for to remain itself operative, despite the budgetary cuts of the Force.

Between its facts they are the qualification and requalification of pilots of helicopters and airplanes, with about 500 catapult launches, and the first relative exercises of our Navy to the operations of attack from an aircraft carrier.

The acquisition of the "So Paulo" made possible to the Navy to operacionalizar aircraft AF-1 and raised the Brazilian Naval Power to a new platform, compatible with the strategical dimension of the Country, enabling to fulfill it to it an ample specter of missions, that vary since typical of time of peace until the ones of crisis time or the conflict.

The carrier undertook regular operations until 2005, when a rupture of a high pressure steam pipe caused three deaths and eight injuries and led the Brazilian navy to put the ship into dry dock for maintenance ahead of schedule. Since then, the So Paulo was inactive, undergoing routine maintenance and troubleshooting, as well as significant equipment upgrades to replace aging parts, and its aircraft fleet has been upgraded, too. Following this work, the So Paulo would be fully operational in the new decade, ready for use by not only Brazilian, but also Chinese pilots.

Plans for cooperation between Brazil and China on naval aviation were first disclosed by Brazil's Defense Minister Nelson Jobim in an interview in May 2009 with the Brazilian defense news web site Defes@Net. In a discussion of strengthening security ties with China, Jobim said China wanted to build up its naval forces, and one of its priorities was carrier training, for which it needed Brazilian assistance. According to Jobim, the Chinese are acquiring aircraft carriers to project power in their region.

The "Sao Paulo" NAe remained an important strategic medium for the fulfillment of the Navy's mission, especially regarding the basic task of the Naval Power related to the Control of Maritime Area. As a result, the High Naval Administration established a specific Coordination, within the structure of the General Directorate of Marine Material, in order to conduct the evaluation of the modernization of the Ship, which mainly involved studies on new arrangements for its propulsion, as well as such as the necessary technical inspection of the condition of its hull, was carried out in 2015. The time required for the return of the "So Paulo" NAe to full operational activity will obviously depend on the various goals that will be pointed out by the evaluation, as well as the availability of budgetary resources allocated to the Navy. The NAe will remain active, but not operating, performing only the routine maintenance tasks.

After several maintenance capacity problems, it was officially decommissioned in January 2017. In June 2018, the So Paulo / Foch Institute, a non-profit association, was created with the aim of preventing the destruction of the warship and transforming it into a naval museum with investors and exempting the Brazilian government and Navy from spending.

Given that France was the original owner of the ship, the contractual clause in the sale of the Foch gave France the last word on where the aircraft carrier can be dismantled. Therefore, the ship recycling facilities authorized to participate in the bidding had to be approved by the French authorities. France sent an official response to Brazil, indicating that only the yards included in the EU list of recycling facilities for approved ships were qualified to receive and dispose of the ship.

The Brazilian Navy resumed control of the deactivated Clemenceau class aircraft carrier after the auction led by local authorities has been suspended again. The auction, which was supposed to decide the future of the ship containing large quantities of dangerous substances, originally started in December 2019, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and finally suspended thanks to the Brazilian Navy. The cause of the most recent suspension was not disclosed.

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Page last modified: 08-01-2021 14:04:39 ZULU