Amazonas, the first of three BAE Systems built Ocean Patrol Vessels being delivered the Brazilian Navy, departed the UK for Rio de Janeiro on August 9 after her crew completed a rigorous programme of Flag Officer Sea Training with the Royal Navy off the South coast.
Supported by a team from BAE Systems, the crew’s extensive training programme included navigation and duty watch training, as well as development and familiarisation of operational procedures for safety and security in areas including material assessment of the ship, emergency exercises and machinery breakdown drills, BAE Systems said. The crew also completed boarding operations and anti-piracy exercises and tactics to ensure Amazonas returns to Brazil safely and fully prepared for the demanding operational role ahead.
Nigel Stewart, Commercial Director of BAE Systems Maritime, said: “Saying farewell to the first ship in the Amazonas class is a significant stage in our ongoing relationship with the Brazilian Navy and is a source of great pride to those who worked on her. We look forward to continuing our work with the Brazilian Navy to deliver the next two Ocean Patrol Vessels Apa and Araguari over the coming months.”
Lieutenant-Commander Giovani Corrêa, Brazilian Navy’s Commanding Officer of Amazonas, said: “The ship has proved herself to be a highly capable vessel and her crew are looking forward to the challenges of her first ocean voyage as we head to her new home in Brazil. The FOST training was a great success and allowed us to learn more about the Royal Navy’s procedures as we continually develop our own for this new class of ship.”
Following her departure from HM Naval Base Portsmouth, Amazonas will complete a series of diplomatic visits in Europe and Africa before arriving in Rio de Janeiro in October. On arrival in Brazil, Amazonas and her crew will undergo an operational assessment before joining the Brazilian fleet. They will then take part in further sea training with Comissão de Inspeção e Assessoria de Adestramento (the Commission for Inspecting and Advising Procedures) or CIAsA, which is designed to further ensure the ship is ready to begin her role of maritime security, search and rescue, and humanitarian relief operations.
The FOST training forms part of a £133 million contract for the supply of the three Ocean Patrol Vessels and ancillary support services announced in January. The contract also includes a manufacturing licence to enable further vessels of the same class to be constructed in Brazil, helping to support the country’s naval re-equipment programme and strengthen its maritime industrial capability.
First of class Amazonas was constructed at BAE Systems’ Portsmouth facility. Her sister ships Apa and Araguari were built at the company’s Scotstoun shipyard on the Clyde and are expected to be delivered to the Brazilian Navy in December 2012 and April 2013 respectively. Seven members of the Brazilian Navy will stay in Portsmouth to oversee the delivery of the remaining two ships in the Amazonas class, with the crew for the second ship expected to arrive in the UK later this year.
With a 30mm cannon and two 25mm guns, as well as two rigid inflatable boats and a helicopter flight deck capable of landing a medium-sized helicopter, the ships are ideal for performing maritime security in Brazil’s territorial waters, including the protection of the country’s oil and gas reserves, BAE Systems said. The vessels accommodate a crew of 80, with additional accommodation for 40 embarked troops or passengers and ample deck space for container storage.
The ships were originally built by BAE Systems for the Government of Trinidad and Tobago under a contract signed with the then-Vosper Thornycroft (VT) company in 2007. VT had originally committed to providing the ships in mid-2009 and the Trinidad media suggested the country’s government had become increasingly frustrated by the delays. This contract was terminated in late 2010 and BAE Systems has since marketed the vessels to interested countries. The first ship was constructed at the BAE Systems Portsmouth facility and the other two at its shipyard on the Clyde.
The three 90-metre vessels will provide the Brazilian Navy with enhanced maritime capability in the near term, pending the acquisition of future ships under its Prosuper programme (Brazil’s current surface ship acquisition plan), which also includes a further five ocean patrol vessels of around 1,800 tonnes to be constructed in Brazil.