Government of Gibraltar prohibits the passage of the aircraft carrier São Paulo through its territorial waters

The novel about the fate of the hull of the aircraft carrier NAe São Paulowhich belonged to Brazil’s navy, won another chapter this week. The vessel, which is sailing through a region close to Morocco, is heading towards Turkey, where it should be dismantled.

Nonetheless, the Turkish government suspended the authorization for the São Paulo to be dismantled by the Sok Denizcilikve Tic shipyard, which bought the ship in 2021 for R$ 10.5 million. The reason was the absence of a report detailing the toxic substances present on the vessel, the main one being asbestos.


This Tuesday, the government of gibraltara territory off the coast of Spain that belongs to the United Kingdom, has determined that the aircraft carrier and the tug Alp Center, which transports it, are prohibited from accessing its territorial waters.

Gibraltar is located in the strait of the same name and which gives access to the Mediterranean Sea. The ban, however, is not enough to stop the two ships from passing through the region as other countries also control other parts of the passage, which is about 15 km wide.

The approximate position of the aircraft carrier São Paulo and its tug, the Alp Center (MarineTraffic)

Possible arrival in Turkey on September 11

The Turkish medical association, which is one of the organizations against sending the aircraft carrier to the country, said that São Paulo is expected to arrive in Turkish territorial waters on September 11.

Despite the Turkish government’s refusal and the subpoena issued by IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) for the vessel to return to Brazil, apparently he and the tug continue their journey on their way to Europe.

There are varying reports of the amount of asbestos on the ship, built by France in the 1960s and which served under the name FS Foch until the late 1990s. In 2005, the French government reportedly reported that the carrier class contained between 160 and 200 tons of asbestos.

NAe São Paulo
São Paulo in its active times (MB)

Twin aircraft carrier, Clemenceau faced a similar situation

The Clemenceau, brother of the Foch, which was scrapped in the UK between 2009 and 2010, would have around 760 tonnes of the substance taken from her hull.

Decommissioned in 1997, the aircraft carrier was sold to a Spanish company in 2003, which intended to dismantle it in Turkey as well, but France canceled the agreement.

Two years later, the French government tried to take it to India, where another Brazilian aircraft carrier, Minas Gerais, was dismantled without any care.

The attempt was thwarted by Egypt, which prevented the Clemenceau from passing through the Suez Canal. After protracted discussions, France decided to bring the ship back. In 2008, the carrier finally went to Hartlepool, in the north of England, where the company Able UK dismantled it.

The aircraft carrier Clemenceau (R98), São Paulo’s twin, in Brest in 2008 (Duch.gege)

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