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 Nov. 30, 2016: The Almirante and her Yankee (and Chilean) sisters
Here we see the fine Armstrong-built protected cruiser (cruzador) Almirante Barroso of the Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil) during the 1907 International Naval Review in the Hudson River, a gleaming white ship already obsolete though just a decade old.
As part of a general Latin American naval build-up, Brazil ordered four cruisers in 1894 from Armstrong, Whitworth & Co in Elswick from a design by naval architect Philip Watts. These ships, with a 3,800-ton displacement on a 354-foot hull, were smaller than a frigate by today’s standards but in the late 19th century, with a battery of a half-dozen 6-inch (152mm) guns and Harvey armor that ranged between 0.75 inches on their hull to 4.5-inches on their towers, were deemed protected cruisers.
For batting away smaller vessels, they had four 4.7-inch (120mm) Armstrongs, 14 assorted 57 mm and 37mm quick-firing pieces, and three early Nordenfelt 7mm machine guns. To prove their worth in a battle line, they had three torpedo tubes and a brace of Whitehead 18-inch fish with guncotton warheads. They would be the first ships in the Brazilian fleet to have radiotelegraphs and were thoroughly modern for their time.
However, their four Vosper Thornycroft boilers and turbines, augmented by an auxiliary sailing rig, could only just make 20 knots with everything lit on a clean hull.
The lead ship of the proud new class would bear the name of Admiral Francisco Manuel Barroso da Silva, the famed Baron of the Amazon, who led the Brazilian Navy to victory in the Battle of Riachuelo during the Triple Alliance War in 1865, besting a fleet of Paraguayans on the River Plate, and would be the fourth such ship to do so.
Nonetheless, financial pressures soon limited the Brazilian shipbuilding program and, with each of the Barroso-class cruisers running ₤ 265,000 a pop, the fourth ship of the class was sold while still on the builder’s ways to Chile, who commissioned her as Ministro Zenteno.
The U.S., uparming for a coming war with Spain, purchased two other incomplete Barrosos in 1898 — Amazonas and Almirante Abreu— that were commissioned as the USS New Orleans and USS Albany, respectively. (*The Brazilians also sold the Americans the old dynamite cruiser Nictheroy, though without her guns)
In the end, only Almirante Barroso (Elswick Yard Number 630) was the only one completed for Brazil, commissioned 29 April 1897.
Her naval career was one of peacetime showmanship and diplomatic visits, taking President Campos Sales to Buenos Aires on a state visit in 1900, serving as the flagship of the Naval Division, making a trip to the Pacific in 1907 and the U.S.– shown in the first image of this post above– as well as other state visits.
Subsequent trips took her as far as the Middle East and Africa.
With Brazil escaping involvement in the Great War that engulfed the rest of the war from 1914-17, Barroso enforced her country’s neutrality and kept an eye on interned ships during that conflict until switching to a more active campaign looking for the rarely encountered Germans in the South Atlantic after Brazil entered the war on the Allied side in late 1917.
By the 1920s, obsolete in a world of 30+ knot cruisers with much more advanced armament and guns, Barroso was used as a survey and navigation training vessel.
By 1931, she was disarmed and turned into a floating barracks, ultimately being written off sometime later, date unknown.
Her 4.7-inch Armstrong mounts and 57mm Nordenfelts were installed in Fort Coimbra at Moto Grosso on the left bank of the Paraguay River, where they remained in service into the 1950s.
When the fort was turned over for preservation, they were repurposed and put on display.
Chile’s Ministro Zenteno sailed the world far and wide only to be laid up in the 1920s and scrapped in 1930.
New Orleans exchanged gunfire with Spanish shore batteries off Santiago in 1898 but missed the big naval battle there while off coaling. She went on to perform yeoman service as flagship of the Cruiser Squadron, U.S. Asiatic Fleet for several years and patrolled the coast of Mexico during the troubles there in 1914. Escorting convoys across the Atlantic in World War I, she ended up at Vladivostok in support of the Allied Interventionists in the Russian Civil War. She was sold for scrapping on 11 February 1930.
Albany missed the SpanAm War, being commissioned in the River Tyne, England, on 29 May 1900. Sailing for the Far East from there where she would serve, alternating cruises back to Europe, until 1913 she only went to the U.S. for the first time for her mid-life refit. Recommissioned in 1914, as her sister New Orleans, she served off Mexico, gave convoy duty in WWI and ended up in Russia. With the post-war drawdown, she was placed out of commission on 10 October 1922 at Mare Island and sold for scrap in 1930.
A single 4.7-inch Elswick Armstrong gun from each of these English-made Brazilian cruisers in U.S. service is installed at the Kane County, Illinois Soldier and Sailor Monument at the former courthouse in Geneva, Illinois.
Displacement: 3,769 long tons (3,829 t)
Length: 354 ft. 5 in (108.03 m)
Beam: 43 ft. 9 in (13.34 m)
Draft: 18 ft. (5.5 m)
Propulsion: mixed steam and sail; four Vosper Thornycroft boilers and turbines, coupled to two propellers, generating 15,000 hp., 2850 tons of coal
Electricity: 3 generators of 32 Kw, engines by Humphrys Tennant & Co, Deptford
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 366 officers and enlisted
6 × 6-inch 152/50 Armstrong QF
4 × 4.7-inch 120/50 Armstrong QF
10 × 57/40 Hotchkiss (2 in) 6-pdr Hotchkiss guns
4 × 37/20 1 pdr guns
3 machine guns
3 × 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes (1 x bow & 2 x broadside)
Gun shields: 4 in (100 mm)
Main deck: 3.5 in (89 mm)
Conning Tower: 4 in (100 mm)
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