The Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) took an important step in the construction of the Polar Ship (NPo) “Almirante Saldanha” by holding the vessel’s Keel Laying Ceremony today (17) at the Jurong Aracruz Shipyard in Espírito Santo. In naval tradition, this event is characterized by the positioning of one of the ship’s blocks, which is part of the ship’s “backbone”, and the placement of the coin on the structure that corresponds to the vessel’s keel. Symbolically, it is a way to bring luck to the vessel that is being built.

The event was attended by the Minister of Defense, José Mucio Monteiro; the Commander of the Navy, Admiral Marcos Sampaio Olsen; the Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, Admiral Renato Rodrigues de Aguiar Freire; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Naval Project Management Company (EMGEPRON), Vice Admiral (IM) Edesio Teixeira Lima Júnior. Also present were the Head of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore, Desmond NG; Seatrium’s Executive Vice President for the Americas, Marlin Khiew; the CEO of Polar 1 Special Purpose Society, Thangavelu Guhan; the Vice-Governor of Espírito Santo, Ricardo Ferraço; and the Mayor of Aracruz, Luiz Carlos Coutinho.

The Minister of Defense expressed the satisfaction of following an important stage of another project conducted by the Brazilian Navy, with high managerial capacity and entrepreneurial spirit. “Today I have the privilege of attending this traditional keel laying ceremony of the Polar Ship ‘Almirante Saldanha’, whose construction is carried out with great pride on Brazilian soil and also represents investments in our country. This is the example of Brazil that I believe in and that works.”

The Director General of the Navy’s Materiel, Admiral Arthur Fernando Bettega Corrêa, spoke about the expectations surrounding the ship. “We hope to see, soon, operating in the waters of the Antarctic region and in the country as a whole. The Navy and EMGEPRON work together on the supervision and governance of the project, which follows good program management practices and provides for the carrying out of studies and planning necessary for the management of the ship’s life cycle and integrated logistical support.”

For the CEO of EMGEPRON, Admiral Edesio, the promotion of the naval industry collaborates with the development of the country. “With the construction of the Tamandaré Class Frigates in Itajaí and the Polar Ship ‘Almirante Saldanha’ here at the Jurong Aracruz Shipyard, we are now led by a third wave of expectations and opportunities for operational, technological, logistical and industrial leverages with direct repercussions on the Brazilian economic matrix, which will result in a considerable multiplier effect on the economy.”

Seatrium’s CEO stressed that this is a new chapter in the company’s history, which reinforces the commitment to scientific research, sustainability and the shared responsibility to protect and preserve the environment. “In partnership with the Brazilian Navy, we are proud to be at the forefront of this endeavor. The polar ship, which we are building, will be a beacon of scientific progress and international collaboration. This project is not just about building a ship, it is about building bridges between nations, between areas of knowledge and between the present and the future,” he said.

Conducted by MB since 2019, executed by Polar 1 and managed by EMGEPRON, the project will culminate in the construction, for the first time in Brazil, of a ship capable of operating in the icy waters of the Antarctic region. The delivery of the NPo “Almirante Saldanha” is scheduled for 2025.

The ship will be about 103 meters long, has a hangar for 2 medium-sized aircraft, autonomy of 70 days and a crew of 95 people, including 26 researchers. In the construction phase, 600 direct and 6,000 indirect jobs have already been generated, in addition to the promotion of the Brazilian shipbuilding industry and the national technological base.

The model of the NPo “Almirante Saldanha” brings together the most advanced in naval technology, providing for the construction by means of blocks, made separately and, later, joined, giving shape to the ship. Thus, it is possible to install fittings and foundations in advance; facilitate the placement of equipment on board; and allow for work in several stages in a segregated manner.

The NPo “Almirante Saldanha” will replace the Oceanographic Support Vessel “Ary Rongel”. It will have improved capabilities, enabling: the reduction of the time needed for the refueling of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station (EACF), with the inclusion of modern cranes and greater cargo and maneuvering capacity to the new ship; greater safety in the approach of the ship to the beach, for the disembarkation of material and personnel, due to the sophisticated navigation and control systems; and the expansion of the area that can be visited by researchers, including the oceanic and terrestrial regions.

The construction of the Polar Ship is part of the Program for Obtaining Hydrooceanographic Means and Antarctic Support (PROHIDRO), which provides for the acquisition of hydrooceanographic vessels to be used in the Blue Amazon and in polar waters so that MB can fulfill its duties related to hydrographic, oceanographic, meteorological, cartographic and nautical signaling activities. ensuring support for the application of Naval Power, in addition to providing EACF transport and logistics support. Among the expected gains from the initiative are the improvement in the collection of marine geospatial data in Brazilian jurisdictional waters and in international waters of interest to the country, the improvement in the effectiveness of navigation aids and support for national research in the marine environment.