The Brazilian Navy announced late on Friday (February 3) that it had completed the sinking of a decommissioned aircraft carrier to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, about 220 nautical miles off the coast of Brazil, “as planned and under control.” It is about 5000 meters deep from sea level. Environmentalists and some government officials have firmly opposed this, arguing that the aircraft carrier will carry toxic substances that will pollute the Atlantic Ocean.
The Brazilian Navy issued a statement saying that necessary technical and safety measures were taken during the sinking of the “São Paulo” aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean, with the aim of avoiding environmental and economic losses to Brazil.
The “Saint Paul” aircraft carrier belongs to the Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier. It was the first aircraft carrier developed by France after World War II. At that time, two ships were built. Foch”, built in 1963. The “Foch” served in the French Navy for 37 years and was renamed the “São Paulo” after being sold to the Brazilian Navy in 2000.
The fully loaded aircraft carrier is 265 meters long, 31.7 meters wide, and has a displacement of 327.8 million tons. It can carry 40 carrier-based aircraft. The USS Sao Paulo was decommissioned in 2018.
Last summer, the aircraft carrier sailed from Brazil to Turkey for safe recycling. However, the Turkish government refused entry to the aircraft carrier on the grounds that it carried a large amount of toxic substances. The “São Paulo” had no choice but to return to Brazil. The Brazilian Navy stated that the condition of the aircraft carrier has seriously deteriorated, the hull has been damaged, and it is very likely that it will lose control and sink while driving, so it has decided to sink it to the bottom of the sea.
Last month, Brazil’s environmental protection agency proposed a series of possible consequences of the sinking of the aircraft carrier. For example, pollutants will block the growth of marine organic matter, and may kill seabed species and cause ecosystem deterioration. Environmental groups say the ship was carrying tons of asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic substances that could pollute seawater and disrupt the marine food chain.
The non-governmental organization “Basel Action Network (BAN)” based in Seattle, USA, called on Brazil’s new President Lula to immediately stop the plan to sink the aircraft carrier. The organization also issued a joint statement with Greenpeace environmental group on Friday, condemning Brazil for violating three international treaties and causing “immeasurable” losses to marine life and coastal people.
Another non-governmental organization, Shipbreaking Platform (NGO Shipbreaking Platform), made up of environmental, labor and human rights groups, condemned the shipwreck plan as a “state-led environmental crime”.
Brazilian authorities insisted that it was far better to sink the ship in a planned way than to let it sink out of control. The Brazilian navy said it had chosen a “safest area” for the wreck.