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Navy to get €39 million for vessel maintenance – but not for creaky, leaky Mondego

Mondego’s crew members risk charges of insubordination for refusing mission due to maintenance concerns

By cruel coincidence, a government decision to spend €39 million on Naval ship maintenance has been published in State gazette Diário da República today, days after most of the crew of the patrol boat Mondego refused orders to set out on a mission because of the vessel’s maintenance issues.

The government’s decision dates back to March 2 – long before the Mondego was ordered to ‘accompany’ a Russian ice-breaker as it passed alongside the Madeiran coast.

Even more unfortunate perhaps is the fact the money given the green-light is for maintenance work on other vessels: the so-called Viana do Castelo class ocean patrol ships and the Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Dias class frigates, writes Lusa

Maintenance of NRP Mondego – dubbed “a Tejo class patrol vessel” – with oil leaks, water leaks and sewage problems, “is not covered”.

According to the resolution, signed by prime minister António Costa at the March 2 Council of Ministers, the money will be used to plan maintenance work, “repair and acquisition of spare parts”.

“This planning cannot focus solely on the ships as such, but also on their respective integral systems, such as engines, military sensor and weapon systems, various components, systems and associated subsystems,” reads the document.

The resolution states that “it is essential for the support and operation of Navy ships” that goods and services are acquired for 2023, 2024 and 2025, including “docking, intermediate overhauls and minor overhauls, shipyard equipment needed for the work”, as well as “unannounced repair services of a possible and urgent nature”.

“The Navy, in compliance with the missions assigned to it, operates several ships, of various types and with different configurations, which must be operational and ensure a degree of readiness appropriate to the specific nature of the mission to be performed, safely, with appropriate reliability and operational capacity,” the wording goes on.

The government considers that, to ensure the “operability and the necessary degree of readiness”, the Navy should also “undertake rigorous planning, aimed at docking, intermediate reviews and minor overhauls” of ships and frigates to which the €39 million are allocated.

In the Cabinet resolution it is established that between 2023 and 2025, the Navy will be able to make an annual expenditure of €13 million for the services in question, making a total of €39 million over the three years.

It is also established that these services will be acquired from Arsenal do Alfeite S.A., as the public company that ensures “the construction, maintenance and repair of naval vessels”.

But all of this is very cold comfort to the 13 crew members of NRP Mondego who are deeply in the soup over their stand last Saturday.

Reports today suggest that if military police consider their actions to have been insubordination, the 13 could face imprisonment.

President Marcelo however may have helped in this regard, as he has already stressed the importance of maintenance of the Armed Forces, in their entirety (not selective craft/ areas).

He told reporters yesterday – clamouring for his opinion on the ‘Mondego mutiny’ – that “without maintenance there are risks of obsolescence and therefore of the degradation of military capabilities, hence the importance given to maintenance at all levels.” Or practically all levels, that is … the NRP Mondego is still waiting.

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