Brazil Buying & Building BAE’s 90m Patrol Vessels

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Amazonas(click to view full) As 2011 came to a close, Brazil’s buy of 3 in-stock Offshore Patrol Vessels from BAE, with an option to license-build 5 more, had the potential to cast wide ripples. Brazil has very extensive coastal responsibilities, a sizable Marine Corps, and a Navy whose frigates are either British designs, or former […]
Amazonas leaves Portsmouth

(click to view full)

As 2011 came to a close, Brazil’s buy of 3 in-stock Offshore Patrol Vessels from BAE, with an option to license-build 5 more, had the potential to cast wide ripples.

Brazil has very extensive coastal responsibilities, a sizable Marine Corps, and a Navy whose frigates are either British designs, or former British ships. That navy is set to expand and modernize, as Brazil moves to protect key assets like its deep-water oil production, but British shipbuilders will face stiff competition. Other key Brazilian suppliers like France’s DCNS will be bidding, alongside naval shipbuilders around the world. The Amazonas Class OPV purchase is certainly another piece of the naval puzzle for Brazil, alongside its future submarines. Is it also another piece of the puzzle for BAE?

The Ships

OPV trials

Port of Spain, trials
(click to view full)

The Port of Spain (now Amazonas) Class are an enlarged offshoot of the River Class OPVs built for Britain’s Royal Navy. A similar design was sold to the Thai Navy, and is being built by Bangkok Dock.

The first of the 3 ships ordered by Trinidad & Tobago was built at BAE Systems’ Portsmouth facility on the English Channel, while the 2nd and 3rd vessels were built at the yard at Scotstoun on the Clyde River, in Scotland. Key statistics include:

Length overall: 90.5m
Breadth moulded: 13.5m
Draught: 3.5m
Displacement: 1,800t/ 2,200t fully loaded – corvete sized
Propulsion: 2 x 7,350 kW diesels, driving 2 x 3.1 m Wartsalia propellers
Speed: 25+ knots
Range at 12 knots: 5,500+ nm
Endurance: 35 days
Nominal crew: 60. Can operate with 36, accommodate up to 70.
Deck capacity: 1 helicopter up to 7t; 6 x 20 foot ISO containers

Other features include:

* Terma Scanter 4100 X-band radar
* Ultra Electronics OSIRIS combat & surveillance system
* 30mm remotely-operated weapons station up front, and 2 x 25mm cannons port and starboard.
* Modern communications, command and control system system
* Ability to conduct sea boardings using onboard RIB and Fast Interceptor Craft
* Accommodation for 50 fully equipped troops
* Ability to conduct helicopter operations
* Ample deck space for the transport of containers and additional craft
* 16t capacity crane on board, with 14m reach
* Ability to replenish at sea

The 90m Offshore Patrol Vessels were originally part of a GBP 150 million Vosper Thornycroft Group contract with Trinidad & Tobago, and were scheduled for delivery in mid-2009. BAE eventually acquired VT Group’s shipbuilding, and the first 2 ships would have been delivered in October 2010, but the customer canceled the contract. They were docked at BAE facilities, awaiting a buyer as BAE pursued negotiated and legal options with Trinidad & Tobago, and explored international re-sale.

That eventually materialized at the end of 2011, with a sale of all 3 ships to Brazil, plus license-build options for up to 5 more ships, in a manner similar to the Thai deal.

Trinidad & Tobago’s own territorial waters didn’t require all of these capabilities, but long-reaching drug interdiction patrols within the Caribbean did. Brazil will be using the boats for a different purpose, but the vessels’ endurance and seakeeping will come in very handy when patrolling the deep-water zones around its key offshore oil sites.

Contracts & Key Events

2011 – 2013


T&T Negotiations
(click for video)

Oct 20/13: Araguari arrives. Araguari is formally handed over to the Brazilian Navy on June 21/13, in a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base, and departs about a month and a half later on Aug 6/13. She arrives in Brazil after spending time in West African waters, and conducting joint exercises with six African countries. BAE | Naval Today | UPI | Naval Matters, “New OPV Araguari (P-122) departs UK for Brazil” | IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Brazil OPV builds national relations with West African countries”.

March 13/13: Apa departs. Brazil’s 2nd OPV leaves Britain, heading home to Rio de Janeiro. DefenceWeb.

Oct 11/12: #1 arrives. Amazonas arrives in her home port of Rio de Janeiro. She will undergo an operational assessment before joining the Brazilian fleet, and her crew will receive training with the Comissao de Inspecao e Assessoria de Adestramento. Defence Talk.

Aug 9/12: Amazonas departs. Amazonas (ex-Port of Spain) leaves Britain under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Giovani Correa, after a program of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) with the Royal Navy. From her previous base at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, Amazonas will complete a series of diplomatic visits in Europe and Africa, before arriving in Rio de Janeiro in October. On arrival in Brazil, Amazonas and her crew will undergo an operational assessment before joining the Brazilian fleet. BAE Systems.

July 3/12: Delivery. The Brazilian Navy has taken delivery of their first new OPV at Portsmouth Naval Base, UK. Brazil’s 2nd OPV will arrive 5 months later, in December 2012, while the 3rd OPV will take until December 2013. Naval Technology.

Jan 2/12: BAE officially announces a GBP 133 million (currently $206 million) sale of the 3 Port of Spain Class OPVs to Brazil, along with and ancillary support services and the rights to license-build additional ships of class. The exact number is not mentioned clearly, despite earlier reports of 5 ships. Brazilian Navy Director of Naval Engineering, Rear Admiral Francisco Deiana, did add that:

“This procurement does not change the scope of our PROSUPER programme for the acquisition of future ships which also includes a further five Ocean Patrol Vessels of c.1,800 tonnes to be constructed in Brazil.”

Port of Spain and Scarborough are expected to be delivered with little delay, while San Fernando will reportedly need to be fitted out with the rest of her equipment before she can be delivered. BAE Systems Maritime Managing Director, Andrew Davies, expressed his hope that “this will be the start of a long term partnership with Brazil in the maritime sector.” BAE would certainly like customer satisfaction at the accelerated delivery, and close cooperation in building more OPVs, to translate into a edge for their Type 26 frigates, as Brazil moves to re-equip its surface fleet (vid. Sept 14/10 entry). See also the BBC report’s analysis, which is interesting:

“For naval shipbuilding in Britain (and that’s almost all there is left), it carries a sombre warning – that the skills being sought by BAE Systems’ customers are not in construction but in design… The intention is to make the design adaptable to different requirements and different budgets for weapons systems, in contrast with past Royal Navy designs… If successful, it means orders for BAE Systems, and jobs for designers and project managers, but it doesn’t look so good for shipyard workers on the Clyde or Portsmouth.”

Read: BAE Systems | BBC | Defense News | Poder Naval [in Portuguese]

Brazil buys them

Dec 11/11: Brazil. According to the Brazilian newspaper ALIDE, Brazil’s navy may be about to buy the Port of Spain Class, plus the option to build another 5 under license. Technical aspects have reportedly been settled, leaving political-industrial issues such as industrial offsets and financing. Navy Recognition.

Aug 3/11: Brinksman-ships. BAE Systems moves the 3 ships to Portsmouth, and is attempting to persuade the government of Trinidad & Tobago to allow resale, instead of facing the International Court of Arbitration.

The Sultan of Brunei lost a similar 2006 ICA case to BAE, involving the 95m Nakhoda Ragam Class corvettes. The Sultan had to pay BAE, and ended up selling the corvettes to Algeria at a loss, before replacing the corvettes with another order from Germany’s Lurssen Werft: 3 smaller Darussalam Class OPVs. CNC3 TV

2007 – 2010

OPV trials

Scarborough, Trials
(click to view full)

Sept 22/10: Trinidad & Tobago cancels the contract for the Port of Spain class. BAE dsays they will attempt to negotiate a settlement. If that fails, international arbitration is likely. UK’s Telegraph.

Trinidad cancels

Sept 14/10: UK-Brazil DCA. The UK and Brazilian Governments sign a Defence Cooperation Agreement, with BAE touting its Type 26 future frigates as part of a larger co-operation package that would equip Brazil’s navy. The Port of Spain Class is part of that mix:

“In the near term, BAE Systems believes that its 90 metre Ocean Patrol Vessel will prove an attractive option to the Brazilian Navy. With full blue water capability, it can undertake surveillance and deterrence of oil and gas installations in Brazil’s territorial waters as well as more general maritime security and search and rescue operations. The design is based on the proven River Class vessels in use with the UK Royal Navy and uses the same core platform as the vessels BAE Systems has built for the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard, with systems and equipment tailored to the Brazilian Navy’s requirements. The company already has a similar technology transfer agreement in place with Bangkok Dock in Thailand, which is building one vessel of this class for the Royal Thai Navy.”

Sept 7/10: Testing. Scarborough, the 2nd of 3 Port of Spain Class OPVs for the T&T Coast Guard, has successfully completed sea trials off the west coast of Scotland, and is on track to be delivered in October 2010. BAE Systems.

July 16/10: #3 launched. The 3rd Port of Spain Class OPV, San Fernando, is launched at 0400, due to the early high tides on the Clyde River in the summer months. BAE Systems.

Nov 18-19/09: #1 named, #2 launched. The 1st OPV is formally named Port of Spain, then the 2nd ship is launched and named Scarborough, at the BVT Surface Fleet facility on the Clyde river, in Scotland. Port of Spain is Trinidad’s capital. Scarborough is Tobago’s capital.

The two 90m Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard are part of a £150 million contract to build, integrate, test and commission (up to sea trials) three ships for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Under the program, BAE is also providing training and a 5-year in-service support package, while the UK Ministry of Defence is providing advice to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and operational sea training to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard crews. BAE Systems.

October 29/09: BAE buys VT. BAE buys VT’s shipbuilding business, but the purchase agreement’s value is reduced a bit because of ongoing issues and delays involving the Port of Spain Class.

BAE buys VT

June 28/07: Sub-contractors. Ultra Electronics announces that the Port of Spain Class will use its OSIRIS combat system.

“Ultra’s OSIRIS system integrates the surface and air surveillance radars together with an advanced electro-optical surveillance capability in order to enhance the crew’s situational awareness. The OSIRIS system also provides the vessel’s command and control and gun fire control capability [noted as a 30mm gun and 2 x 25mm guns).

Ultra has worked closely with VT over several years to develop jointly a version of OSIRIS optimised for the Trinidad and Tobago vessels. The system will be integrated and delivered by Ultra’s Command & Control Systems business in partnership with radar specialist Terma A/S of Denmark and Ultra’s SML Technologies business.”

April 2007: VT Shipbuilding signs a deal with Trinidad & Tobago to build, integrate, test and commission up to sea trials, 3 of their 90-meter Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Coast Guard.

The program includes training and a 5 year in-service support package, while the UK Ministry of Defence is providing advice to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and operational sea training to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard crews. The Port of Spain Class are scheduled for delivery in mid-2009.

T&T orders 3 OPVs

Additional Readings

* BAE Systems – Offshore Patrol Vessel

* Naval Technology – River Class, United Kingdom

* DID – Britain’s Future Frigates: Type 26 & 27 Global Combat Ships

* DID – Brazil & France in Deal for SSKs, SSN

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