French-built Flattops in the News

| February 13, 2023


Brazil has been having problems with its French-built aircraft carrier, the Sao Paolo. Basically aged past its prime, the 1960’s era Clemenceau-class 36,000 ton carrier originally named the Foch was supposed to be scrapped off in Turkey, but Turkey decided all the mercury,  tons (literally) of asbestos etc. made the ship too toxic to allow entry. Unable to find a scrap facility, Brazil blew the rusted bottom out of her and sank her at about 5000 meters off the northeast of Brazil. Not surprisingly, numerous environmental groups are not happy about it.

“The sinking of the aircraft carrier Sao Paulo throws tons of asbestos, mercury, lead and other highly toxic substances into the seabed,” Greenpeace said in a statement. It accused Brazil’s Navy of neglecting the protection of the oceans.


As they say in the car business, the French “sold her right”: they made $12,000,000 off the sale, and according to Wiki  the Foch/Sao Paolo hasn’t been operational for more than three months since the sale in 2000.

And on the UK side of the ocean, the 65,000 ton Prince of Wales has been docked much of 2022  and into the current year –  their 3 billion pound carrier is awaiting repairs for what appears to be driveshaft and coupler issues which also damaged the rudder. This leaves the Queen Elizabeth II as their sole operational carrier. Thales UK, a subsidiary of Thales, was the prime contractor for the propulsion system (others in the consortium which built it include BAE Systems, Babcock Shipyards, and Rolls-Royce.)

According to the now-defunct Aircraft Carrier Alliance website, Thales UK “led the design of the QE Class programme and is currently involved in the Power and Propulsion sub-alliance, which the company leads.”


As can be considered normal for a brand new ship, there are demands that Thales pay for the repairs. Thales is staying mum at this point but isn’t rushing in waving money… ought to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Category: International Affairs, None

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Apparently the UK has been ignoring those calls about their ships extended warranty being offered.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Had an LPH 3 MM3 shipmate I used to keep in contact with and while the ship was in drydock, he was throwing out engine room parts that were loaded with asbestos back in 1965-1966 and it caught up with him years later with the va giving him a hard time. Sent him a Christmas card last Dec. and his wife sends me a letter that he passed away from an asbestos related illness..

Conboy, E

So sorry to hear this.Sincere respects and condolences to all.


Floating landing fields for Aerial Artillery Platforms are highly complicated and technical. “The most protected ship in the fleet…” It has to be, it’s the biggest target. Curious as to why Brazil would need a carrier, seems to be more of an offensive weapon V a defensive one. And maybe they should have had a trusted mechanic go over the old gal, before they took title to her. Guess the Lemon Law doesn’t cover pre-owned aircraft carriers.

Can’t throw too many rocks at the Brits and the problems they’re having in building a new carrier. Seems like I remember reading about the problems we’ve been having with our new ones too.


Brazil is one of three countries in the world that borders ten or more countries. It also has thousands of miles of coastline. Their military is the largest in South America and the Southern Hemisphere. The have the world’s sixth largest population, more than three times that of the UK or France or nearly double the two of them.

They don’t have problems with their neighbors because they don’t go around the world sticking their nose into everyone else’s business and they have a huge, practically inassailable military, at least locally.

Last edited 1 year ago by 5JC
Anna Puma

Didn’t the new French carrier DeGaulle have a prop fall off?

What happened to quality is job one?

Prior Service

I heard the prop fell off when they shifted into reverse too quickly, one too many times. It’s hard to synchronize the simultaneous collapse of the air wing with a sudden reversing of the ship, and the popping up of white “colors” to the masthead. Vive le France! ***plays ‘the Marseille’ and pops smoke***

Skivvy Stacker

The other problem was, whenever it sailed near Germany, the ship would roll over on it’s back.


Ford isnt in the business of building war time machines any more.


Who knew that was all crap?
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See, this is why you should buy American.


Caveat emptor. Would you buy a used Citroen?