Decommissioned aircraft carrier banned from entering Turkey may return to Brazil

Hull of the Brazilian Navy’s NAe São Paulo was sold as scrap to a Turkish ship recycling company to be dismantled

Banned from sailing in Turkish waters last week, the former aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo of the Brazilian Navy can return to Brazil, as required by the Brazilian government’s Institute for the environment (IBAMA).

In a letter released on Tuesday, the institute confirmed the cancellation of the authorization that allowed the ship to be sent for dismantling in the port of Aliaga, Turkey.

The aircraft carrier’s hull was sold in March 2021 for around $2 million by Turkish shipyard Sok Denizcilikve Tic, which specializes in dismantling decommissioned vessels.

The vessel, which was moored in Rio de Janeiro, began its journey to Turkey on August 4, tied to a Dutch-flagged tugboat.

Last week, the Turkish environment minister, Murat Kurum, signed the order that barred the sending of the decommissioned aircraft carrier to the country’s territorial waters.

The ban came after the Turkish authorities did not receive from the Brazilian government a detailed report on the presence of toxic substances contained in the vessel, demanded on August 9. With no response, the vessel’s entry permit to Turkey, issued on May 30, was suspended.

The hull of the aircraft carrier was sold in 2021 for around $2 million (AIRWAY)

Tons of asbestos

The dispatch of the São Paulo aircraft carrier for decommissioning mobilized environmentalists in Turkey. The greatest fear concerns the presence of asbestos contained in the ship.

The amount of the highly carcinogenic substance on the ship is unknown. Some sources say there may be around 9.6 tons of the material, while others mention somewhere between 700 and 900 tons.

At the moment, the towed vessel is in the final part of its displacement, close to Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, according to monitoring by Greenpeace.

A-4 fighters on the flight deck of the São Paulo aircraft carrier decomissioned in 2018 (Brazilian Navy)

IBAMA’s official letter adds that the Brazilian exporter of the ship, the company Oceans Prime, must arrange, “at its own expense”, the return of the vessel to Brazil, under the risk of incurring illegal trafficking in hazardous waste, as provided for in Article 9. of the Basel Convention and Environmental Crimes Act.

“Ibama may cancel the authorization and fine the company at any time, if Oceans Prime does not inform the arrangements for the return or fails to act to comply with this letter”, concludes the document.

The AIRWAY outlet was unable to contact Oceans Prime. The Brazilian Navy also did not manifest itself so far.

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