Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo

NAe[a] São Paulo (pennant number A12) was a Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier in service with the Brazilian Navy. São Paulo was first commissioned in 1963 by the French Navy as Foch and was transferred in 2000 to Brazil, where she became the new flagship of the Brazilian Navy. IHS Jane's reported that during its career with the Brazilian Navy, São Paulo suffered from serviceability issues and never managed to operate for more than three months at a time without the need for repairs and maintenance.[3] On 14 February 2017, the navy announced the ship's demobilisation and subsequent decommissioning.[1]

Sao Paulo carrier
Name: Foch
Ordered: 1955
Laid down: 15 November 1957
Launched: 23 July 1960
Commissioned: 15 July 1963
Decommissioned: 15 November 2000
Identification: Pennant number: R99
Fate: Sold to the Brazilian Navy
Name: São Paulo
Namesake: State of São Paulo
Launched: 1960 by France
Acquired: September 2000
Commissioned: 15 November 2000
Decommissioned: 22 November 2018
Out of service: 14 February 2017
Struck: 22 November 2018
Status: Awaiting disposal[1]
Notes: see Foch (R99) for prior history
Badge: Seal of NAe São Paulo
General characteristics
Class and type: Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier
  • 24,200 tonnes
  • 32,800 tonnes (full load)
Length: 265 m (869 ft 5 in)
Beam: 31.7 m (104 ft 0 in)
Draught: 8.60 m (28 ft 3 in)
Propulsion: 6 Indret boilers, 4 steam turbines producing 126,000 hp (94,000 kW), 2 propellers
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h)
Range: 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 1,338 (1,920 including the air group). 984 if only helicopters are carried.
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • DRBV-23B air sentry radar
  • DRBV-50 low-altitude or surface sentry radar (later replaced by a DRBV-15)
  • NRBA-50 approach radar
  • DRBI-10 tri-dimensional air sentry radar
  • several DRBC-31 fire radar (later DRBC-32C)
  • DRBN-34 navigation radars
Armament: four 100 mm turrets, two SACP Crotale EDIR systems, five 12.7 mm machine guns, 4 dual Simbad launchers
Aircraft carried: 39 aircraft: 22 jets and 17 helicopters.[2] A-4KU Skyhawks, AS 532 SC Cougars, HB 350 & HB.355 Ecureuils, and SH-3 Sea Kings


The aircraft carrier São Paulo was built in France between 1957 and 1960, and served in the French Navy as Foch. In September 2000, she was purchased by Brazil for US$30 million — no aircraft were included in the price — to replace the aged World War II-era carrier Minas Gerais, which had been in commission for over 40 years. Brazil had previously approached other countries, such as Spain, who wanted to construct a US$500 million carrier for Brazil, about the acquisition of a carrier.[4] The government had already purchased a flotilla of 23 used A-4 Skyhawk fighter planes from Kuwait for $70 million;[5] these planes, along with existing helicopters already in the national defense inventory, were to compose the São Paulo fighter-bomber group. These A-4s (designated AF-1) are capable of carrying armament including rockets, free-fall bombs, and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

The Clemenceau-class aircraft carriers, of which São Paulo is the last surviving member, are of conventional CATOBAR design. The flight deck is 265.5 metres (871 ft) long by 29.5 metres (97 ft) wide; the landing area is angled at 8 degrees off of the ship's axis. The forward aircraft elevator is to starboard, and the rear elevator is positioned on the deck edge to save hangar space. The forward of two 52-metre (171 ft) catapults is on the bow to port; the second catapult is farther back on the angled landing deck. The hangar deck dimensions are 152 metres (499 ft) by 22 to 24 metres (72 to 79 ft) with 7 metres (23 ft) overhead.[6]

In September 2000, São Paulo was purchased while still operational,[5] an unusual process for such a large ship. She was received by the Brazilian Navy and was incorporated into the Brazilian Navy on 15 November 2000. The incorporation of São Paulo and the AF-1 fighter group marked the realization of Brazil's long-held goal of being able to conduct aerial defense of its naval forces with fixed-wing aircraft.

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso noted during the transfer ceremony that:

The transfer of the aircraft carrier São Paulo to the Operative Sector of the Navy adds to our naval power an important magnification in its ability of defense of the Brazilian interests at sea. A country as ours, possessing an extensive coast, with more than 7,000 kilometers of coast, requires a naval power compatible with its stature in the international scene. Today, as before, Brazil is concerned about implementing concrete measures that offer the nation the guarantee of respect to its sovereignty. We are and we will always be a nation that fights for peace, however, that does not mean being able to do without modern Armed Forces, enabled and endowed with adequate dissuasive potential. Few countries, even today, have the capacity to operate with efficiency in the high seas. It is important that Brazil continues to be one of them."[7]

Since her construction, São Paulo has received multiple upgrades, leaving her with a diverse range of technologies.

The carrier arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 17 February 2001.[5]

Brazilian service

AF1 da Marinha do Brasil 2
An AF-1 Skyhawk (A-4KU) on board São Paulo

In her first three years of service as São Paulo, the ship completed several missions, some in foreign waters, particularly Operations ARAEX,[8] PASSEX, and TEMPEREX,[9] which is used annually to qualify and train the Argentine Navy's Super Étendards and S-2T Turbo Trackers.[10]

Toward the end of its commissioned life, São Paulo mainly served to train pilots to fly carrier operations. She was actively used for the qualification and re-qualification of rotary and fixed-wing pilots (with about 500 catapult launches), and she was used during the first Brazilian exercises to practice carrier-based attack missions.[11]

2004 fire

On 17 May 2004, an explosion took place in the steam network of the engine room.[12] The explosion initially killed one crew member and injured ten others. All casualties were airlifted by helicopter to the Marcilio Dias Naval Hospital, Rio de Janeiro. Two of the injured crew later died in hospital from their injuries. Cause of the explosion was a rupture in the steam pipeline. After this accident, the Navy decided to undertake an extensive overhaul to repair and modernize the ship.[13]

Upgrade (2005–2010) and sea trials

Sao Paulo carrier forward flight deck 2003
View of the forward flight deck of the Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo in 2003. Four McDonnell Douglas AF-1 (A-4) Skyhawk fighters and an Argentine Navy Grumman S-2T Tracker are visible.
Sao Paulo at sea (11522051596)
São Paulo at sea, December 2013.

During 2005–10, São Paulo underwent extensive modernization.[11] The upgrade included inspection and repair of the steam turbines; maintenance of the surface condensers; retubing of boilers; repair of two high-pressure compressors; revision of the AC electrical generator; purchase of spare parts; maintenance of pumps, valves, and structural items; addition of two API oil-water separators; installation of two water cooling units; upgrade of the chemical oxygen generator; repair and treatment of oil tanks; substitution of the Naval Tactical Data System; installation of a closed-circuit television system; installation of an IFF transponder; installation of a MAGE system (ESM); flight deck inspection, repair, and painting; upgrade of the Optical Landing System processing unit; and revision of the aircraft catapults.[14] The upgrade was completed in July 2009, and the São Paulo was initially due to be fully operational by August 2010.[15]

Twelve Brazilian Navy A-4 Skyhawks were also scheduled to be upgraded by Embraer at a cost of $140 million.[16] The upgrade was similar to the ones done for the AMX and F-5EM aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force. The program included restoring the aircraft and their current systems, as well as implementing new avionics, radar (specifically the Elta 2032 radar system), power production, and autonomous oxygen generating systems. Possible weapons to be included in the upgrade were MAA-1B, Python 4, and Derby AAMS.

The Brazilian Navy contracted Marsh Aviation to convert four S-2T Turbo Trackers to an airborne early warning (AEW) configuration, and four more for tanking and Carrier Onboard Delivery duties.[17]

According to an article in the October 2010 issue of Air Forces Monthly, it has been confirmed that Brazil has purchased ex-Australian and ex-Uruguayan C-1 Trader airframes, for conversion into AEW planes and Tanker aircraft. All of the planes were to be upgraded to S-2T Turbo Tracker configuration with Honeywell TPE 331-14GR engines. The purchase included nine airframes, of which two were for tanker conversion to refuel the AF-1 Skyhawks, and three were for AEW. The rest were purchased as for spares or for cargo duties. The AEW radar requirement was to have a range of 250 miles at 25,000 feet. Operational lifespan for the airframes was to be 10 years. They were expected to be ready in 2011 and 2012.[18]

São Paulo's SH-3 helicopter fleet was to be replaced by six S-70B Seahawk helicopters. They were purchased in 2008, upgraded, and refurbished for delivery. The helicopters and a package of engines and support equipment were scheduled for delivery in 2009.[19]

At the end of 2010, sea trials began, and as of 2011 São Paulo had been evaluated by the CIASA (Inspection Commission and Training Advisory).

Refit and decommissioning (2012–2018)

São Paulo was expected to rejoin the fleet in late 2013, but suffered another major fire in 2012.[20] As of September 2016, she continued to undergo repairs; the commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, said plans were in place to renew the carrier's propulsion system. The ship's catapult was also reported to have problems.[21] On 14 February 2017, the Navy announced the ship would be demobilised and subsequently decommissioned, citing the uneconomical cost of further repairs.[1][22] The Brazilian Navy formally decommissioned the aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo on 22 November 2018.[23]


São Paulo's complement is 1,920 (the ship's company is 64 officers and 1274 sailors, with an additional 582 in the air group).[24]


A12 & CVN76

São Paulo (foreground) and USS Ronald Reagan during a combined training exercise in June 2004

Aircraft carrier Sao Paulo in Rio 12-2007

São Paulo in Rio de Janeiro in 2007

PR NAe SP.jpeg

Then-President Lula, his wife Marisa Letícia and Espírito Santo's governor Paulo Hartung aboard São Paulo, August 2004

Argentine S-2T landing on carrier Sao Paulo 2006

Argentine Navy Turbo Tracker operating on São Paulo

SH-3D Sea King on Brazilian carrier Sao Paulo 2003

Sea King landing in 2003

A-4KU landing on carrier Sao Paulo 2003

McDonnell Douglas AF-1 Skyhawk (A-4KU) from fighter squadron VF-1 Falcões catching the arrestor wire aboard the aircraft carrier São Paulo

Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo (A12)

São Paulo at sea

See also


  1. ^ Navio-Aeródromo, "Aircraft carrier" (lit: "Airfield-Ship").


  1. ^ a b c Desmobilização do NAe 'São Paulo' (A 12), Defesa Aérea & Naval.
  2. ^ "O gigante dos mares voltou após quatro anos parado" [The seas’ giant is back after four years anchored], O Dia (in Portuguese) (online ed.), Rio: Terra, Jul 2009, archived from the original on 17 July 2009.
  3. ^ Brazil seeking to modernise Sao Paulo aircraft carrier, extend life to 2039,, 8 December 2014
  4. ^ "Brazilian Navy seeks aircraft carrier". South American Business Information. 5 July 2000. Retrieved 15 August 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
  5. ^ a b c Schleiffert, Rob; Rodenburg, Corne (1 September 2003). "Sao Paulo rules the waves". Naval Aviation News. Retrieved 24 June 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
  6. ^ Pike, John. "Clemenceau Aircraft Carrier". Global security. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
  7. ^ "Discurso do Presidente da República, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, na cerimônia de transferência de subordinação do navio-aeródromo "São Paulo" para o setor operativo da marinha do Brasil" [President of the Republic Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s speech in the ceremony of subordination transfer of the aircraft carrier ship ‘São Paulo’ to the operational sector of the Brazilian navy] (in Portuguese). Radiobrás. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  8. ^ "São Paulo", Brazil, Global Security, retrieved 23 June 2009.
  9. ^ "NAe São Paulo – A 12", Poder Naval (in Portuguese), archived from the original on 1 May 2009, retrieved 23 June 2009.
  10. ^ "Combined exercise ARAEX", You tube (video recording), Google.
  11. ^ a b A segunda docagem do NAe São Paulo [NAe São Paulo’s second docking] (in Portuguese), BR: Alide, retrieved 24 June 2009
  12. ^ “Explosion kills one in Brazilian aircraft carrier.” "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) May 18, 2005
  13. ^ Operti, Carlos Filipe, Pg. 36, Combat Aircraft Monthly, US Edition, Vol. 12, No. 12, December 2011, Retrieved September 9, 2015
  14. ^ A12 São Paulo: Modernização [A12 São Paulo: modernisation] (in Portuguese), BR: Defesa, archived from the original on 28 February 2009, retrieved 23 June 2009
  15. ^ "Porta-aviões São Paulo volta à ativa após 4 anos em reforma" [Aircraft carrier São Paulo back to active service after four year in refitting] (PDF), O Estado de S. Paulo (in Portuguese), Marinha do Brasil, archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011, retrieved 25 November 2009
  16. ^ Embraer to Modernize Brazilian Navy AF-1 and AF-1A Jets, Reuters, 14 April 2009, archived from the original on 11 July 2011, retrieved 14 April 2009
  17. ^ Compra dos dois S‐2 para a aviação naval prestes a ser concluída [Two S‐2 acquisition for the naval aviation about to be concluded] (in Portuguese), BR: Alide, archived from the original on 30 July 2012, retrieved 20 July 2010
  18. ^ Brazilian navy buys Traders, Flight Global, 23 August 2010
  19. ^ FMS: Brazil Requests S-70 Helicopters and Engines, Deagel, retrieved 27 September 2006
  20. ^ "Militar ferido em incêndio no porta-aviões São Paulo permanece em observação" [Military hurt in fire at the aircraft carrier São Paulo continues under observation], Agência Brasil (in Portuguese), EBC.
  21. ^ Brazilian admiral: Work continues on carrier Sao Paulo, IHS Jane's 360, 28 September 2016
  22. ^ "Brazilian Navy retires Sao Paulo carrier". Mönch Publishing Group News. 15 February 2017.
  23. ^ Brazil decommissions the aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo, IHS Jane's 360, 26 November 2018.
  24. ^ Navio Aeródromo São Paulo – A 12 Archived 1 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine Poder Naval. Retrieved on 24 June 2009. (in Portuguese)

External links

Anti-submarine warfare carrier

An anti-submarine warfare carrier (ASW carrier) (US hull classification symbol CVS) is a type of small aircraft carrier whose primary role is as the nucleus of an anti-submarine warfare hunter-killer group. This type of ship came into existence during the Cold War as a development of the escort carriers used in the ASW role in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Argentina–Brazil relations

Argentina and Brazil's relationship are both close and historical, and encompasses all possible dimensions: economy, trade, culture, education and tourism. From war and rivalry to friendship and alliance, this complex relationship has spanned more than two centuries.

After achieving independence from the Iberian crowns in the early nineteenth century, Argentina and Brazil inherited a series of unresolved territorial disputes from their colonial powers. The most serious breach in the relationship was the Cisplatine War (1825–1828), led by the Brazilian invasion and annexation of the Banda Oriental. Despite the numerous periods of muted hostility, the Argentine–Brazilian relationship was not defined by open hostility for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There was competition on many levels, and their respective defense policies reflected mutual suspicion, but the Brazilian economic rise in the 1980s led to the accommodation of Argentina as a secondary regional power and increasing cooperation.With the creation of the Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials in 1991, the two countries turned their nuclear competition into cooperation through mutual confidence. A high volume of trade and migration between Argentina and Brazil has generated closer ties, especially after the implementation of Mercosur in 1991. Today, the strategic relationship between Argentina and Brazil is considered to be "at the highest point in history". Argentine foreign policy has given special emphasis in "deepening the strategic alliance with Brazil in all its aspects". Likewise, Argentina has been "an absolute priority" for Brazilian foreign policy.

Argentine Naval Aviation

The Argentine Naval Aviation (Spanish: Comando de la Aviación Naval Argentina, COAN) is the naval aviation branch of the Argentine Navy and one of its four operational commands. Argentina, along with Brazil is one of two South American countries to have operated two aircraft carriers

The acronym CANA is often used in English language bibliographies, but is not correct Spanish usage.

Brazilian Naval Aviation

Brazilian Naval Aviation (Portuguese: Aviação Naval Brasileira; AvN) is the air arm of the Brazilian Navy operating from ships including the aircraft carrier São Paulo and from shore installations.

Brazilian aircraft carrier Minas Gerais

NAeL Minas Gerais (pennant number A 11) was a Colossus-class aircraft carrier operated by the Marinha do Brasil (MB, Brazilian Navy) from 1960 until 2001. The ship was laid down for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy during World War II as HMS Vengeance, but was completed only shortly before the war's end, and did not see combat. After stints as a training vessel and Arctic research ship, the carrier was loaned to the Royal Australian Navy from 1952 to 1955. She was returned to the British, who sold her to Brazil in 1956.

The ship underwent a four-year conversion in the Netherlands to make her capable of operating heavier naval aircraft. She was commissioned into the MB as Minas Gerais (named after the state of Minas Gerais) in 1960; the first purchased by a Latin American nation, but the second to enter service, behind the Argentinian ARA Independencia. Between 1987 and 1996, the carrier was unable to operate fixed-wing aircraft because of a defective catapult, and was retasked as a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship.

Minas Gerais remained in service until 2001, when she was replaced by NAe São Paulo. At the time of her decommissioning, she was the oldest operational aircraft carrier in the world, and the last operational unit of the World War II Light Fleet design. Despite attempts to preserve the carrier as a museum ship, and after several failed attempts to auction the ship off (including a listing on eBay), Minas Gerais was sold for scrap in 2004 and taken to Alang for breaking up.

Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil

The Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil (Squirrel), now Airbus Helicopters H125, is a single-engine light utility helicopter originally designed and manufactured in France by Aérospatiale and Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters). In North America, the AS350 is marketed as the AStar. The AS355 Ecureuil 2 is a twin-engine variant, marketed in North America as the TwinStar. The Eurocopter EC130 is a derivative of the AS350 airframe and is considered by the manufacturer to be part of the Écureuil single-engine family.

Green-water navy

Green-water navy is terminology created to describe a naval force that is designed to operate in its nation's littoral zones and has the competency to operate in the open oceans of its surrounding region. It is a relatively new term, and has been created to better distinguish, and add nuance, between two long-standing descriptors: blue-water navy and brown-water navy.

It is a non-doctrinal naval term used in different ways. It originates with the United States Navy, who use it to refer to the portion of their fleet that specializes in offensive operations in coastal waters. Nowadays such ships rely on stealth or speed to avoid destruction by shore batteries or land-based aircraft.

The US Navy has also used the term to refer to the first phase of the expansion of China's navy into a full blue-water navy. Subsequently, other authors have applied it to other national navies that can project power locally, but cannot sustain operations at range without the help of other countries. Such navies typically have amphibious ships and sometimes small aircraft carriers, which can be escorted by destroyers and frigates with some logistical support from tankers and other auxiliaries.

Grumman S-2 Tracker

The Grumman S-2 Tracker (S2F prior to 1962) was the first purpose-built, single airframe anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed and initially built by Grumman, the Tracker was of conventional design — propeller-driven with twin radial engines, a high wing that could be folded for storage on aircraft carriers, and tricycle undercarriage. The type was exported to a number of navies around the world. Introduced in 1952, the Tracker and its E-1 Tracer derivative saw service in the U.S. Navy until the mid-1970s, and its C-1 Trader derivative until the mid-1980s, with a few aircraft remaining in service with other air arms into the 21st century. Argentina and Brazil are the last countries to still use the Tracker.

Timeline for aircraft carrier service

Aircraft carriers have their origins during the days of World War I. The earliest experiments consisted of fitting temporary "flying off" platforms to the gun turrets of the warships of several nations, notably the United States and the United Kingdom. The first ship to be modified with a permanent flight deck was the battlecruiser HMS Furious, which initially had a single flying-off deck forward of the original superstructure. Subsequently, she was modified with a separate "landing on" deck aft and later with a full flush deck. Other ships, often liners, were modified to have full flush flight decks, HMS Argus being the first to have such modification begun. Those first faltering steps gave little indication of just how important the aircraft carrier was to prove to be. During the inter-war years (between the World Wars), Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States built up significant carrier fleets so that by the beginning of World War II, they had 18 carriers between them. The 1940 Battle of Taranto and the 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor in retrospect showed the world that the aircraft carrier was to be the most important ship in the modern fleet. Today, aircraft carriers are the capital ships of the navies they serve in, and in the case of modern US "supercarriers", they embark an airgroup that is effectively a small air force.

This timeline is an attempt to provide a unified chronology of key dates[I] in carrier service. Aircraft carriers[II] often serve their navies for many decades and this chronology[III] enables the reader to track the progress of the carrier as it has developed alongside the evolution of aircraft for nearly a hundred years.

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