Despite protests, Brazil sinks aircraft carriers in the Atlantic

Abroad Loaded with toxic waste

Despite protests, Brazil sinks ailing aircraft carrier in the Atlantic

The Foch - here in 1994 - now lies on the seabed

The Foch – here in 1994 – now lies on the seabed

What: AFP/-

For months, the former French aircraft carrier “Foch” was floating around on the Atlantic waiting to be scrapped. No port wanted to let the ship enter. Despite criticism from environmentalists, Brazil has now confirmed the sinking.

UDespite protests from environmentalists, Brazil has sunk a highly ramshackle former aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. The six-decade-old warship was “controlled” sunk about 350 kilometers off the coast of the country on Friday afternoon (local time), the Brazilian Navy said. At the selected location, the sea depth is around 5000 meters.

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 the ship was no longer allowed to enter a Brazilian port or even into Brazilian territorial waters given its poor condition and the “increased risk” to the environment.

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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 former warship had previously been lost in the Atlantic for months. 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.

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