Brazil’s Oldest Warship Turns 85
By First Lieutenant (RM2-T) Juliana Rodrigues Affe – Ladário, MS
At fifteen o’clock on November 6, 1937, a ship, with only Brazilian design, was ready in the Navy Arsenal of Rio de Janeiro, marking the resumption of shipbuilding in Brazil in the 20th century. Currently, it holds the title of oldest ship of the Brazilian Navy (MB) in service.
At the age of 85, MParnaíba brings, in its decks, stories and episodes that make this ship mb’s cultural heritage. The beating of the keel happened on June 11, 1935, in Ilha das Cobras (RJ), marking the official beginning of the construction of the hull. Finally, 17 months after intense work, MParnaíba floated for the first time and paved the way for new constructions in the Brazilian shipbuilding industry.
From the Paraguay River to
the Atlantic In a paused look at the past, there are important historical facts of the MParnaíba. In March 1938, the ship was incorporated into the Flotilla of Mato Grosso and, in April 1943, was disincorporated and included in the Naval Force subordinated to the Naval Command of the East, based in Salvador-BA, in order to escort convoys and patrol the port during World War II.
Upon being called to duty, he suffered the harsh conditions of war operations and fulfilled the mission, sailing 3,570 miles during the conflict. In May 1945, he returned to his home office, Ladário (MS), where he remained subordinate.
Modernization of the MParnaíba
After more than 60 years of service, the MParnaíba underwent a modernization process and, as an outcome, had its extended useful life with greater autonomy, effectiveness, mobility, flexibility and firepower. The works, which lasted a little over a year and a half, began in January 1998. In April, part of the superstructure and internal compartments of the ship were rebuilt, and the plating of the convoo also began to be assembled.
In July, there was already the installation of two diesel engines, an important update. The old steam engines were preserved, one being transferred to the Navy Arsenal of Rio de Janeiro and the other is in Ladário (MS). The latter is exhibited in the Memory Room “Lieutenant Maximiano”, which maintains historical parts of MB, and operates by means of an electric motor, to demonstrate to visitors how it originally worked in the Machine Squares.
MParnaíba’s steam engine is the main attraction in the Memory Room “Tenente Maximiano”, which gathers historical collection of the Force – Image: Brazilian Navy
The room installed in the Command of the 6th Naval District (Com6ºDN) is a tribute to the Pernambuco who joined MB, as a volunteer, at the age of 20, in 1913. First Lieutenant (Retired) Maximiano José dos Santos participated in the two World Wars and other conflicts, lived much of his life in the Pantanal region and died in 2006, at the age of 113, leaving as a legacy his remarkable career. In World War II, the then Petty Officer Maximiano stood out for the act of bravery and heroism when fighting a large fire in the Caldera Square of MParnaíba.
After the period of repairs and upgrades, on November 6, 1999, on the 62nd anniversary of its incorporation, the ship began a new cycle, now modernized and the only one in the Pantanal capable of operating with organic aircraft. The following month, a UH-12 aircraft from the then 4th General Employment Helicopter Squadron landed for the first time aboard the MParnaíba. In March of this year, the number 2500 landing was made.
MParnaíba in Brazil and abroad
The MParnaíba, also known as “Jaú do Pantanal” in reference to a wide-mouthed pantanal fish, is one of the ships that sails the paraguayriver the most, performing operations that contribute to the application of the Naval Power in the area of jurisdiction of Com6ºDN (Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul).
At the age of 85, the navy’s master cave, subordinated to the Mato Grosso Flotilha Command (ComFlotMT), a Military Organization belonging to the Com6ºDN continues to fulfill its mission, in Brazil and abroad.
Annually, Mparnaíba conducts marine patrols and riverside operations with other ComFlotMT ships, participating in joint and combined operations, such as Operation ACRUX, which brings together the Navies of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, with the purpose of training the means involved in a Combined Riverside Operation.
The history of MParnaíba by the look of those who are
proud to command the MParnaíba, in the words of the Captain of Corvette Dison José de Oliveira Santos Filho, who took office in June 2022, is like breathing history. “It is to carry on your shoulders the legacy of great men, heroes of the Fatherland. To be part of the celebrations of 85 years and write my name along with so many others who preceded me and toiled in these conveses, in the pantanal scenery or at sea, in times of peace or war. For me, it is an honor that words hardly express the feeling.”
Of the 35 years, three months and nine days of active service time of Petty Officer-SI Joacélio Alves de Freitas, military of Fortaleza (CE), 18 were aboard the MParnaíba, 14 uninterrupted. In 2020, the Petty Officer was transferred to a paid reserve, but returned to Com6ºDN hired for a certain time at the Ladário River Base. “I arrived in Ladário in December 1992 and embarked directly in MParnaíba. After serving for a while in the Flotilla building, I returned to the ship and assumed the assignment to control landings of organic aircraft, so I remember exactly the day of the first landing in the new convoo, on December 6, 1999”, he recalled.
When asked about your experience on board, the answer is quick and simple. “I say it was easy, because everything becomes easy when the environment is very good at work and at home. I also talk about the most striking fact for me, which was when, in committee, on a Sunday, we brought to Corumbá a lady in labor. It had already been coming down the river, about in the Region of Paraguay Mirim, about 130 kilometers from the port. Events like this, among many other memories, is what I keep from my days aboard the Jaú do Pantanal”, he said.