According to the Brazilian authorities, they want to sink the former aircraft carrier "Foch" in the Atlantic. In view of its poor condition, "a controlled sinking" of the decommissioned ship is inevitable, the Brazilian Navy and the Ministry of Defense said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
Because of the "risks of towing" and the "poor buoyancy" of the ship's hull, this is the only way to get rid of the former flagship ship of the French Navy. The decision is considered highly controversial: According to several environmental organizations, the 266-meter-long ship is loaded with asbestos, paint and other toxic waste.
Two weeks ago, the Brazilian Navy announced that it had towed the former aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. She had stressed that given its poor condition and the "increased risk" to the environment, the ship was no longer allowed to enter a Brazilian port or even into Brazilian territorial waters.
Several organizations had subsequently expressed fears of an "environmental crime". If Brazil "deliberately" sinks the ship, "it would be equivalent to an environmental crime commissioned by the state," said the non-governmental organization Shipbreaking Platform. The environmental organization Robin Wood described the former aircraft carrier as a "30,000-ton poison package".
The "Foch" was in the service of the French Navy for 37 years. After her acquisition by Brazil in 2000, the ship was renamed "São Paulo". It soon caused problems, but modernizing it would have been too expensive. Brazil decided to get rid of the ship.
In April 2021, the Turkish shipyard Sök Denizcilik bought the huge ship to cannibalize the scrap metal. Since then, a Dutch tugboat has been sailing the "São Paulo" at the shipyard's expense. However, since no port allowed the "São Paulo" entry, Sök Denizcilik threatened to simply give up the ship in the middle of the Atlantic. Brazil finally allowed the "São Paulo" to return, but did not enter a port.