Ex-FS Foch, aircraft carrier ‘São Paulo’ about to be transferred to Turkey

The 1960s vessel, originally built by France, was sold to a Turkish shipyard to be dismantled

The largest vessel ever operated by the Brazilian Navy, the former aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo is expected to leave the Brazilian coast for Turkey this week, according to AIRWAY.

The vessel’s hull was bought in March 2021 for around $2 million by Turkish shipyard Sok Denizcilikve Tic, which specializes in dismantling decommissioned ships.

The aircraft carrier will be dismantled at facilities in the Aliağa region of the Aegean Sea. The tugboat that will probably transport the vessel to Turkey, the Dutch-flagged Alp Center, is already docked in Rio de Janeiro, waiting for the final procedures to start the displacement.

The fate of the São Paulo aircraft carrier has been discussed since 2018. One of the proposals suggested turning the ship into a museum – the plan, however, was discarded by the Brazilian Navy.

The aircraft carrier arrived at the Brazilian Navy in 2000, purchased from France for $12 million to replace the ‘Minas Gerais’, a British-class Colossus vessel that operated in Brazil between 1960 and 2001.

A-4 Skyhawk from Brazilian Navy (MB)

Mechanical issues and accidents

When it was still active, São Paulo was the oldest aircraft carrier in the world in operation. The vessel was launched in 1960 and served with the French navy under the name FS Foch from 1963 until 2000.

During this period, the 32,800-tonne, 265-meter-long ship operated on combat fronts in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Under the command of the Brazilian Navy, however, the vessel had a short and very troubled career, with a series of mechanical problems and accidents. Due to these mishaps, the ship spent more time stationary than sailing.

The FS Foch when was operated by French Navy (FN)

In February 2017, after giving up on updating the aircraft carrier, the naval command decided to permanently disable the NAe São Paulo.

According to Brazilian navy data, São Paulo spent a total of 206 days at sea, sailed for 54,024.6 miles (85,334 km) and performed 566 aircraft catapults.

The main aircraft operated on the vessel was the AF-1 naval fighter, the Brazilian designation for the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, currently operated from land bases.

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