NGOs demand urgent action of Lula administration as ship needs repair and safe harbour
Three months after its return to Brazil following Turkey’s rejection to scrap it, the toxic aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO continues to be towed in circles off the coast of Pernambuco state, Brazil. The Brazilian Environment Agency (IBAMA) and Brazilian Navy have so far failed to provide the vessel with a safe mooring place despite a Salvage Master inspector having declared the ship is taking on water and needs repair. Left to drift twelve to sixteen nautical miles from land, burning fuel and resources, the new owners, MSK Maritime Services & Trading LTD, gave the Brazilian government a twelve-hour warning to allow the ship into port or they would immediately abandon it. Though this threat was met with a court injunction prohibiting such an action, NGOs say that the Brazilian government is to blame, and now must move with extreme urgency to resolve this matter.
In a letter to the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and the director of IBAMA, the coalition of international and national NGOs that has repeatedly raised the alarm is therefore now urging the new Brazilian administration to immediately allow the ship to dock at a Brazilian Naval facility so that it can undergo repairs and subsequently be carefully surveyed for all of the hazardous materials on board.
The hull of the aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo was purchased in March 2021 by a Turkish ship recycling shipyard. In August last year, the decommissioned ship left Rio de Janeiro, where it was located in a Navy shipyard, heading for Turkey.
However, due to the lack of documents on the amount of asbestos in the hull of the boat, Turkey’s environment ministry barred the former vessel from entering its territorial waters.
When that ban was lifted, the convoy was close to crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, which gives access to the Mediterranean Sea. Soon after, Ibama, the Brazilian environmental authority, asked for the ship to return to Brazil for a new inspection of toxic materials.
Despite Ibama’s order, no Brazilian port or shipyard authorized the docking of the hull in its facilities. In this way, the towed hull has been sailing in circles along the northeast coast of Brazil since October 2022