By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian government is looking to strengthen maritime security by investing R$8 billion into the navy by December of this year. The government recently purchased three Ocean Patrol Vessels and ancillary support services to increase security, a move that is not surprising given the value of Brazil’s natural resources at sea.
The area of most concern for the Ministry of Defense is the offshore pre-salt, where oil and natural gas lies approximately 2,000 meters (6,000 feet) beneath. Another key location is the mouth of the Amazon River – an area rich in biodiversity – a point defined as “a major strategic point”.
The three navy vessels came to a grand total of R$400 million, and will help to defend the seas from illegal fishing, pirates as well as attempting to guard offshore oil wells.
The first of the vessels, the “Amazonas”, was delivered last month by Britain’s BAE Systems and is capable of spending up to thirty-five days at sea.
Each ship has two machine guns and a cannon on board with the capacity to house two speedboats and a helicopter in addition to six containers. It is likely that the ships will also be utilized for rescues.
Admiral Fernando Eduardo Wiemer, the Navy Chief of Staff, explained that the investment in maritime security is more than justified by the fact that ninety percent of trade is by sea while they are limited to patrolling 4.5 million square miles of Brazil’s ocean.
“It inhibits other countries from coming here to exploit our wealth” explains Giovani Corrêa, Commander of the Amazonas who also agrees with the new measures. The clamp down on piracy in Africa could lead pirates to Brazilian waters fears Corrêa, “if we are not prepared, they could come towards our coast.”
Wiemer emphasises the important role that the new ship will play building relationships with foreign countries “The west coast of Africa has very important role, so we can’t, after receiving a new ship, fail to visit the ports of countries with which Brazil seeks a closer relationship.”
Andrew Davies, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Maritime business, said: “This is a significant step forward in our relationship with Brazil. The Ocean Patrol Vessels are highly capable ships and I am sure they will be a tremendous asset to the Brazilian Navy.”
“We are looking forward to working together and hope this will be the start of a long term partnership with Brazil in the maritime sector.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
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