Brazil sank the border-type aircraft carrier Sao Paulo in the Atlantic Ocean, despite concerns about environmental pollution from toxic waste on board.
“The controlled and pre-planned sinking of the aircraft carrier Sao Paulo took place on the afternoon of February 3 in the Atlantic Ocean, at a depth of 5,000 m, located about 350 km from the coast of Brazil,” the navy said. Brazilian military issued a statement said.
Brazilian defense officials confirmed that the Sao Paulo warship was sunk in “the safest area.” Still, environmental activists criticized the decision, saying that the aircraft carrier contained many tons of asbestos and metals. Heavy and a series of toxic wastes capable of polluting the sea.
Environment Minister Marina Silva and several Brazilian government officials have appealed not to sink Sao Paulo. Still, a federal court has ruled to allow the Brazilian navy to proceed with the plan.
The Sao Paulo aircraft carrier, which has been decommissioned since 2017, was towed to Europe in the middle of last year to be dismantled by Turkish company Sok Denizcilik. However, Turkish authorities assessed it as an environmental hazard and did not allow entry, prompting Sao Paulo to return home.
The warship was also not allowed to enter the Brazilian port because it was constantly flooded and faced with the risk of sinking, leaving it floating in the Atlantic Ocean for months and being likened to a “ghost aircraft carrier.”
Sao Paulo is the second of the Clemenceau class of aircraft carriers with a displacement of more than 30,000 tons, commissioned by the French navy in 1963-2000 with the name Foch. Brazil bought Foch at the end of 2000 for $12 million, becoming the third country in the world to operate an aircraft carrier using a catapult and cable arrester (CATOBAR), next to the US and France.
The decision to buy the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier is part of an effort to improve the combat capabilities of the Brazilian navy since 1980, to own a fleet of jet-wing fighters operating on aircraft carriers. However, many military experts believe Brazil’s move to buy an aircraft carrier is more flashy than military use.
Sao Paulo did not meet expectations and is considered one of the most disappointing aircraft carriers in the world when constantly lying in the maintenance workshop.
The process of upgrading and equipping many new combat systems took place in the period 2005-2010, costing about 19 million USD of Brazil’s defense budget. Sao Paulo then went on sea trials and was scheduled to return to service in 2013.
However, a serious fire in 2012 delayed this plan, and the Brazilian aircraft carrier continued to return to the factory for an upgrade. During her nearly 20 years of service in the Brazilian navy, she was out at sea for 206 days.