BRASILIA, Feb 1 (Reuters) – A decommissioned 1960’s aircraft carrier has been floating offshore for three months since Turkey refused it entry to be scrapped there will be sunk in the Atlantic Ocean in waters under Brazil’s jurisdiction, the Brazilian Navy said on Wednesday.
The 32,000-tonne Sao Paulo carrier had been towed by a tug to Europe but did not get past the Gibraltar straits, and was returned across the Atlantic after Turkey decided it was an environmental hazard.
The Navy said in a statement that the ship is taking on water and is at risk of sinking, so it has not been allowed to dock at Brazilian ports.
Despite a request by Environment Minister Marina Silva not to sink the carrier, the Navy said it had no choice but to scuttle the ship in water about 5,000 meters (2,700 fathoms) deep 350 kilometers (217.48 miles) off-shore within Brazil’s exclusive economic zone.
The site is far from environmental protection areas and free of undersea communication cables, the Navy statement 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,” it said.
The Navy had planned to scuttle the carrier on Wednesday at sea but public prosecutors sought to stop the sinking in Brazilian waters citing the environmental threat it poses, including tonnes of asbestos used for paneling inside the ship.
A federal judge on Wednesday afternoon denied their request for an injunction arguing that the Navy had weighed the environmental impact against other factors.
The Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier served the French Navy from 1963 to 2000 as the Foch, capable of carrying 40 planes on board.