The Royal Navy and Marinha do Brasil have extensive ties going back to the 19th Century.
It should be remembered that the battle of Jutland had a Brazilain battleship sailing for the British. HMS Agincourt, with her impressive battery of 14x 12-inch guns, had originally been ordered in 1911 as Rio de Janeiro from the British company Armstrong Whitworth. Of note, the Latin American country’s two previous battleships, Minas Geraes, and São Paulo, were also built at Armstrong.
However, Brazil recently apparently promised Argentina not one but two new (by Argie standards) submarines. According to Janes:
The Brazilian Navy has agreed to transfer two Tupi class submarines – Type 209/1400 – to Argentina, following a meeting between Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macro.
The deal includes a potential future transfer of an additional two boats.
The Argentine Navy has fielded 11 submarines over the years, but only two of these, a Type 209 (ARA Salta S31) and a Type 1700 (ARA Santa Cruz S41) are still active, and those only marginally. There has been lots of crowing in sub circles that ARA San Juan (S42), tragically lost in an accident at sea last year, suffered from poor maintenance and probably shouldn’t have been at sea.
The Argentine-Brazil sub deal could end up with four boats transferred in all, with an overhaul in Brazil prior to transfer. A quartet certified pre-owned German 209s could provide the Brits a good bit of heartburn in a Falklands Redux situation.
No comment from the First Sea Lord or MoD…who must be super happy they sold the RN’s gently used helicopter carrier HMS Ocean–now NAeL Atlântico (AND 140)— to Brazil late last year for the military equivalent of couch change.
The social media feed for the Marinha do Brasil, Brazil’s navy, has been off the hook this week as the country turned out to legit welcome into Rio de Janeiro the current fleet flagship, the brand new (to Brazil) amphibious assault ship NAeL Atlântico (AND 140). Formerly the British amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean (L-12).
The 21,500-ton LPH was built at Vickers, commissioning in 1998. In December 2017, the Brazilian Navy confirmed the purchase of the ship for £84.6 million– a comparative bargain when compared to new construction.
She left Royal Navy service on 27 March 2018, with the Brazilians arriving the month before to do a warm transfer. She commissioned in Portsmouth under the green Brazilian banner in June and has been working up in European waters with British advisors for the past several weeks.
As noted by Naval Recognition: “The helicopter carrier package for Brazil includes an Artisan 3D search radar, KH1007 surface surveillance radar system, four 30 mm DS30M Mk 2 remote weapon systems and four Mk 5B landing craft. However, the three original 20 mm Mk 15 Block 1B Phalanx close-in weapon systems, the torpedo defense systems and 7.62 mm M134 machine guns were removed from the ship.”
Atlantico was greeted offshore of Brazil by two Super Cougars, two recently modified Sikorsky SH-16 Seahawk multirole helicopter (a local designation for S-70B), and two Bell 206 Jet Rangers (who normally serve as plane guards with divers aboard and fill liaison roles), which were arrayed on her flight deck as she entered Rio (as no one likes to see a brand new carrier with an empty deck.)
She arrived in Rio on 25 August and is expected to be fully operational by 2020.
The Marinha do Brasil has been continually in the flattop business since they bought the WWII vintage 19,980-ton light carrier HMS Vengeance (R71) from the British in 1956 (a ship nominally smaller than Atlântico). Following a four-year reconstruction in Holland, that ship joined the Brazilian fleet as NAeL Minas Gerais and was the first aircraft carrier purchased by a Latin American nation.
Gerais gave 40 years of hard service to the Brazilians flying A-4 Skyhawks and S-2 Trackers until she was replaced by the French Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier Foch, which was commissioned as NAeL São Paulo in 2000. However, the 32,000-ton French flattop, now some 54-years young, has been a maintenance nightmare and the Brazilians announced last year that they were moving to condemn her.
The Brazilian Navy is seeking to commission the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean landing platform helicopter (LPH) by June 2018, the navy told Jane’s on 6 December.
The navy is authorized to negotiate with the United Kingdom towards a GBP84.6 million (USD113 million) procurement. Prior to receiving the ship, maintenance and training activities would be done in the United Kingdom.
The 22,000-tonne Ocean, in Brazilian service, could host the Navy’s Super Cougar, Super Puma, Super Lynx, and Sea Hawk naval helicopters.
As I talked about in April, such a move would keep the Marinha do Brasil with a flattop of some sort– even though it is a helicopter carrier- long after the looming retirement of the 32,000-ton NAe Sao Paulo (A12) (ex-Foch) which in turn replaced the elderly NAe Minas Gerais (ex-HMS Vengeance), thus keeping the force as one of just a handful of navies that have been operating large bluewater aircraft handling platforms since for over 60 years.
Further, Ocean will be the only LPH in Latin America and the only ship native to the continent capable of operating more than 2-3 aircraft at a time.
Meanwhile, the UK is howling that the current government is not only getting rid of the cream of the RN’s amphibious capability as the rest of the fleet is similarly neglected, but also that the Army could be forced to “get by” with a 50,000-man force, down from the current 80,000 (which is down from 168,000 in 1991). It would be the smallest British Army since the general drawdown of the late 1780s following the end of the Revolutionary War and before the Napoleonic Wars kicked off. Even Cromwell’s New Model Army by 1650 was larger than that and he only had a population of about 5 million (compared to 55 today!)
The Marinha do Brasil has been continually in the flattop business since they bought the WWII vintage 19,980-ton light carrier HMS Vengeance (R71) from the British in 1956. Following a four-year reconstruction in Holland, that ship joined the Brazilian fleet as NAeL Minas Gerais and was the first aircraft carrier purchased by a Latin American nation. Gerais gave 40 years of hard service to the Brazilians flying A-4 Skyhawks and S-2 Trackers until she was replaced by the French Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier Foch, which was commissioned as NAeL São Paulo in 2000. However, the 32,000-ton French flattop, now some 54-years young, has been a maintenance nightmare and the Brazilians announced two months ago they were moving to condemn her.
Enter the British helicopter carrier HMS Ocean (L12), current Royal Navy fleet flagship. Commissioned 30 September 1998, since the paying off of the Invincible-class harrier carriers a few years ago, Ocean has been the largest warship and most important surface asset in the Royal Navy.
Capable of carrying an 830-man Royal Marine Commando battalion and 20~ assorted helicopters as well as assorted cargo and fleet staff, she has been very busy in recent years including operations in Sierra Leone, the Persian Gulf, plastering Libya while equipped with Army-owned AH-64 Apaches in 2011 and a myriad of non-combatant evacuations and humanitarian relief missions. Now, nearing 20 years on her hull and in need of a life extension to remain in service, she is expected to be decommissioned and placed in reserve next year when the new fleet carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth comes online.
However, it seems like the Brazilians want to pick her up for a song, offering a reported $100 million (£80.3 million pounds, 312 million of Brazilian Reais) for her.
Commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, claimed that the price of Ocean seemed “convenient”.
The Brazilians have met Ocean before and worked closely with her in recent years, so they know what they are getting. From a 2010 RN presser:
HMS Ocean, an amphibious helicopter carrier and the Royal Navy’s largest warship, departed Rio de Janeiro earlier this week after a very successful visit which included amphibious exercises with the Brazilian Navy and Marines, and support for UK Trade & Investment and Diplomatic missions culminating in the Minister for International Security and Strategy, Gerald Howarth, signing an important Defence Cooperation Agreement. This visit also served to reinforce the United Kingdom’s long-standing relationship with Brazil.
Over 100 Brazilian Marines from the 3rd Infantry Battalion, 1st Amphibious Division, joined forces with HMS Ocean’s embarked Royal Marines of 539 Assault Squadron to undertake joint amphibious training exercises sharing knowledge and experience gained from recent operations. The centrepiece was an amphibious landing demonstration using landing craft, hovercraft and helicopters supported by offshore raiding craft providing covering fire.
Royal Marines officer, Captain ‘Olly’ Gray of 539 ASRM had this to say about the joint exercise:
“This was an invaluable opportunity for the Royal Marines to demonstrate our core amphibious skills, and broaden our experience of working alongside Brazilian Marines.”
Perhaps, the Ocean will get a chance to work with Royal Marines again in the future if they ever make it to Brazil…
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday Dec. 28, 2017: Mexico’s mighty (lonely) battleship
Here we see the former Brazilian armored ship Marshal Deodoro in the service of the Mexican Navy as Anáhuac sometime between 1924-38, photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, under the Mexican flag. This photo was acquired by the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably a commercial postcard purchased in Mexico– an early example of open source intel.
Though not much of a brawler, the Anáhuac can be considered Mexico’s sole entry into the world of battleships.
Originally ordered as the Ypiranga in 1898 from F C de la Méditerranée, La Seyne, France, the cute 3,162-ton ship at the time was classified as a battleship. The lead ship was named after Brazil’s first president, Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca, while the name of Brazil’s second president, Marshal Floriano Peixoto, both of whom had died within the decade before,graced the follow-on sistership.
They had 13-inches of Harvey armor, a pair of 9.2-inch guns in single fore and aft turrets, and could make 15-ish knots. A myriad of smaller guns kept torpedo boats away while a pair of 5.9-inch howitzers could bombard the shoreline.
Built with the lessons learned at the recent battles of Santiago and the Yalu, naval writer C. Fields in an 1899 Scientific American article said of the class, “Though, of course, unable to contend with a battleship of the ordinary size, yet the Marshal Deodoro would prove a formidable opponent to any armor-clad of an approximating displacement and also to a cruiser much more numerously gunned.”
Commissioned in 1900, these two pocket battlewagons were much larger and more modern than anything else in the Brazilian fleet. Further, they were downright handsome.
By 1906, with a depression in Brazil, Marshal Deodoro and Marshal Floriano were the only operational armored warships afloat in the country. However, a coffee boom followed by a rubber boom soon had the nation’s treasury overflowing and a series of modern dreadnoughts (the first ordered besides for the U.S. and British Royal Navy) were purchased beginning in 1907.
In 1912, an effort was made to modernize the ships; replacing their French coal fired boilers with new oil burning Babcock & Wilcox models, giving the pair a little more range.
However, once Brazil’s new dreadnoughts were delivered, this left the obsolete armored coastal defenders to be shuffled off to training missions and use as tenders. Floriano was soon hulked and eventually scrapped in 1936 by the Brazilians while Deodoro, in better condition, was sold to the Republic of Mexico in 1924 who promptly commissioned her as the Anáhuac, after the ancient (Aztec) name of the Basin of Mexico.
A 3,000-ton SpanAm War era pre-dreadnought growing long in the tooth, the Mexicans used Anahuac primarily for training purposes for a decade in the Gulf of Mexico, though the U.S. Navy proved very interested in her movements.
In 1938, on the cusp of WWII, Anahuac was sold for scrap and at the time was likely one of the last 19th century French pre-drednoughts afloat.
Displacement: 3,162 tons standard
2 shaft triple expansion engines, 2 screws
8 Lagrafel d’Allest boilers, 236-tons coal
3,400 ihp (2,500 kW)
2 shaft triple expansion engines, 2 screws
8 Babcock & Wilcox oil-firing boilers, 440-tons oil.
3,400 ihp (2,500 kW)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
2 × Armstrong D 9.2 inch, 45 caliber guns in 2 single turrets
2 x 5.9-inch howitzers
4 x 4.7 inch, 50 caliber guns in casemates
6 x 6-pounder (57mm) Hotchkiss guns
2 x 1-pounder Hotchkiss in masts
2 x 17.7 (450mm) submerged torpedo tubes
Armour: (All Harvey steel)
Belt: 11-13 inches
Deck: 2 inches
Conning tower: 4 inches
Casemate: 3 inches
Main Turret face: 8.7 inches
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