Portuguese Navy takes official receipt of first controversia

The first of two German Trident Class submarines, which have been awash with controversy, scandal, court cases and allegations of fraud, were officially received by the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday.  

The new submarine, one of two Trident Class submarines purchased from the German Submarine Consortium by Portugal in 2004 for around one billion Euros by the then Defence Minister Paulo Portas, represents a “technological leap” for the Portuguese Navy relative to its predecessors, with new systems of armaments and greater autonomy, which will enable the (country’s) submarine capacity to be secure for the next “30 to 40 years”, according to the Navy’s website.

The Trident was expected to be officially received by the Ministry of Defence at a ceremony at Alfeite on Wednesday when the Algarve Resident went to press and will, according to the Navy, be the key component to “controlling a vast area of ocean, more than four million square kilometres, in a mass of water which is the equivalent to 80 per cent of the whole of Europe.”

“The Trident Class submarines will provide Portugal with unique capacities and will be able to act in tandem with other naval vessels and aircraft to exercise control over Portugal’s maritime space, as well as having a relevant role in its international position and contribute to a direct and encompassing security, just as its allies have”, states the Navy.

With a team of 33 sailors, the ‘Trident’ weighs more than 2,000 tons (immersed), is almost 68 metres long and has an autonomy of 12,000 miles, not to mention various sensors and an armaments system comprising of long-range sea-to-sea and sea-to-air missiles, long-range torpedoes, depth charges, and self-protection light weapons for surface navigation.

“Its most notable features include an extraordinary increase in its stealth capacities and underwater autonomy, without having the need to recharge its batteries,” stresses the Navy.

According to the Navy, the two submarines have the advantage “of being built in modular sections, which means they can easily be modernised at a lower cost translating into an irrefutable leap in technology and the maintenance of the submarines’ armaments.”

The Navy is also banking on the second submarine purchased by Portugal, the Arpão,  to arrive during the first quarter of 2011.

The Portuguese State is currently in court prosecuting several German and Portuguese business executives over allegations that the State was defrauded out of 35 million Euros paid in backhanders and party bank-rolling and that invoices were cooked up for some of the 1.2 billion Euros worth of agreed offsets that the German company wasn’t actually responsible for procuring.

Chris Graeme