Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) service members traveled to England for the incorporation of the HMS Ocean, a helicopter carrier of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. MB designated its newly acquired ship as the Multipurpose Helicopter Carrier (PHM, in Portuguese) Atlântico, raising the Brazilian flag aboard for the first time during a ceremony presenting arms on June 29, 2018, in the United Kingdom.
More than 300 MB service members participated in the transfer and transit process of PHM Atlântico to Brazil. The Royal Navy Training Center will provide operational exercises to train the Brazilian crew to man the ship efficiently. The ship is expected to arrive at São Pedro da Aldeia Naval Base in Rio de Janeiro on August 25th.
According to Vice Admiral Petronio Augusto Siqueira de Aguiar, MB Program Management director, the transition process began in Brazil, with the training of military personnel in specific courses for onboard personnel and air operations. “In the United Kingdom they took part in training and classes from the British Navy and the manufacturers of the ship’s main systems and equipment,” said Vice Adm. Petronio.
The helicopter carrier will also undergo an inspection before incorporating the Brazilian naval fleet. Maintenance services began in February to ensure the ship is fully operational. “A multidisciplinary group, consisting of 11 service members from the technical board and the Brazilian Navy training center, supervises these services, as well as training and classes,” said Vice Adm. Petronio.
MB’s operational capacity
PHM Atlântico will enhance MB’s projection of power on land, sea, and air, as well as in its command and control of maritime areas. The new ship will be the largest in the Brazilian Navy and can transport up to 632 service members. The 203-meter-long vessel sails at a speed of 15 knots, about 30 kilometers per hour, with a range of 8,000 nautical miles, about 15,000 km.
The vessel allows for vertical launching and landing of as many as 18 helicopters, with simultaneous operation of up to seven. “MB’s entire helicopter model fleet, SH-16 Seahawk; UH-15 Cougar, UH-15A, and AH-15B; AH-11B lynx; UH-12 and UH-13 Esquilo; and IH-6B Bell Jet Ranger III will be able to operate from the helicopter carrier,” said Vice Adm. Petronio.
“The ship’s operational characteristics ensure a substantial increase in the training and work of the military, especially in carrier air and amphibious operations,” said Vice Adm. Petronio. “The Brazilian Navy will employ them based on the context of the mission, preparation, and the use of naval power.”
Rear Admiral André Novis Montenegro, deputy chief of Strategy of MB’s General Staff, addressed the ship’s potential for humanitarian missions. “It can be used in strategic logistics missions and to transport service members, ammunition, and equipment,” he said, highlighting the ship’s capabilities for health services, providing support to a naval force in the event of war, humanitarian, or personnel evacuation operations.
Making a difference in the region
Brazil will be the only country in Latin America to have an active helicopter carrier. “We will be a benchmark in international operations, humanitarian missions, natural disaster aid, and peacekeeping operations, since we will count on a ship suited for these missions,” Rear Adm. Montenegro said.
MB Captain Giovani Corrêa will command the new ship. Rear Admiral Montenegro said the number of crew members to staff the vessel would soon be determined. “At the moment, the ship has a reduced crew known as the receiving group,” he said.
Once incorporated, PHM Atlântico will be MB’s fleet flagship, transporting naval leaders and its General Staff, who will command and control naval operations. The São Paulo aircraft carrier, decommissioned in February 2017, previously held this role.
According to Rear Admiral Luiz Roberto Cavalcanti Valicente, director of MB’s Public Affairs Office, the construction of a new aircraft carrier was MB’s third priority, after the Submarine Development Program and the construction program of Tamandaré class corvettes. The officer indicated that fixed-wing aircraft would continue to operate from land bases.