As French PM Manuel Valls appealed for people to “invest in France” during his visit in Portugal today (Friday), national media revealed that the Ministry of Defence has done just that by agreeing to purchase a 20-year-old French naval ship for €80 million.
Described as one of “the most important” vessels for “increasing significantly the ability of Portugal to operate anywhere in the world”, the multipurpose logistic ‘Siroco’ will cost the State €22,000 for every day that it navigates.
The deal to purchase the Siroco was confirmed the day before Manuel Valls arrived in Portugal on his diplomatic visit.
As he was on his way to an audience with President Cavaco Silva and PM Pedro Passos Coelho, the Resident can reveal a few details of this latest State purchase – one that was deemed almost impossible by the head of Portugal’s fleet Admiral Macieira Fragoso only a couple of weeks ago.
According to Expresso, Fragoso said the Navy would need “art and inventive power” if it was to “receive” the Siroco – not only because there was no money for it in the 2015 budget, but because it requires a crew of between 100 and 230.
Added to that are the running costs, understood to be “€22,000 for every day of navigation”, writes Expresso.
But after a parliamentary audience “behind closed doors” on Wednesday, the head of the armed forces General Pina Monteiro revealed there was suddenly the money to acquire the Siroco, and that its purchase was “an opportunity”.
As a result, refits of two naval frigates will have to be scaled back, but not in any way that will compromise Portugal’s commitments to NATO, a press statement from the Navy elaborated.
According to an article on Portugal’s “search for a multipurpose ship” on globalsecurity website, the vessel allows for the transport of six Lynx helicopters and 22 light vehicles.
“With a length of 162 metres, the NAVPOL (abbreviation for ‘navio polivalente’) will have a range of 6000 miles, a crew of 150 men and the ability to embark a force of 650 Marines”.
“It will be used in peace support operations and assistance to humanitarian disasters, with a complete hospital infrastructure”, adds the site, stressing that Portugal has been searching for such a ship for years.
In 2003, Paulo Portas – at the time Minister for Defence – had declared the NAVPOL would be built almost exclusively at the now-privatised Viana do Castelo (ENVC) shipyard.
As globalsecurity pointed out, this “hardly happened”.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]
Photo: Admiral Macieira Fragoso said the Navy would need “art and inventive power” if it was to “receive” the Siroco – not only because there was no money for it but because it requires a crew of between 100 and 230.
Photo by: TIAGO PETINGA/LUSA