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Brazilian Navy to sink 'ghost' aircraft carrier. Why is it controversial?

WION logo WION 02-02-2023 Srishti Sisodia
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The Brazilian Navy said on Wednesday that it will sink a decommissioned aircraft carrier that has been floating offshore for three months since Turkey refused it entry to be scrapped there. 

Brazil plans to abandon its biggest warship despite calls to not do it because of the environmental hazard. 

The carrier São Paulo is from the 1960s and has been floating abandoned in the South Atlantic Ocean for five months. 

It is the largest Brazilian warship in existence, weighing around 34,000 tonnes with a length of 870 feet. 

The carrier was towed by a tug to Europe, however, it did not get past the Gibraltar straits. 

In a statement, the Brazilian Navy said that they did not allow the ship to dock at Brazilian ports. The Navy also said that the ship is taking on water and is at risk of sinking. 

The Navy said it had no choice but to scuttle the ship in water about 5,000 metres deep 350 kilometres off-shore within Brazil’s exclusive economic zone. 

The Environment Minister Marina Silva requested not to sink the carrier. The Navy statement said that the site is far from environmental protection areas and free of undersea communication cables. 

It said, "Given its deteriorating floating condition and the inevitability of uncontrolled sinking, there is no other option but to jettison the hull and sink it in a planned way". 


What's the controversy? 

Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo reported quoting military sources that the navy's next move may be to sink it with explosives. 

But Jim Puckett, the executive of the anti-waste non-profit Basel Action Network, told Time that the sinking the ship would be "gross negligence". 

Puckett told Time: "We're talking about a ship containing both hazardous materials and valuable materials — it's supposed to be brought into the territory of Brazil and managed in an environmentally sound way. You can't just sink it." 


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