Press Release – Brazil must allow its own toxic aircraft carrier to dock

Published in January 20th, 2023

NGOs demand urgent action of Lula administration as ship needs repair and safe harbour


Three months after its return to Brazil following Turkey’s rejection to scrap it, the toxic aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO continues to be towed in circles off the coast of Pernambuco state, Brazil. The Brazilian Environment Agency (IBAMA) and Brazilian Navy have so far failed to provide the vessel with a safe mooring place despite a Salvage Master inspector having declared the ship is taking on water and needs repair. Left to drift twelve to sixteen nautical miles from land, burning fuel and resources, the new owners, MSK Maritime Services & Trading LTD, gave the Brazilian government a twelve-hour warning to allow the ship into port or they would immediately abandon it. Though this threat was met with a court injunction prohibiting such an action, NGOs say that the Brazilian government is to blame, and now must move with extreme urgency to resolve this matter.


In a letter to the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and the director of IBAMA, the coalition of international and national NGOs that has repeatedly raised the alarm is therefore now urging the new Brazilian administration to immediately allow the ship to dock at a Brazilian Naval facility so that it can undergo repairs and subsequently be carefully surveyed for all of the hazardous materials on board.

"Allowing the SÃO PAULO to continue its infinite loop off the coast of Brazil is a total dereliction of duty by the Brazilian Navy, IBAMA, and the Brazilian government as a whole. As it is their obligation under Article 8 of the Basel Convention, they must allow this vessel into port with haste to begin the necessary repairs and inspections and finally prepare the ship for its proper and safe recycling."
Jim Puckett - Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

In their letter, the coalition laid out the requirements for proper and safe recycling of the vessel, which upon the decision to scrap it becamehazardous waste under the Basel Convention.  The groups reiterated the need for a full, independent, and transparent inventory of the hazardous materials (IHM) found onboard the ship, especially the asbestos, heavy metal-laden paints, PCBs, and the possible presence of radioactive isotopes. They also stated that the ship should not return to Aliaga, Turkey, where it was originally destined, following oposition by local communities and authorities due to the large amounts of hazardous materials onboard and concerns that these will not be managed in a safe manner, putting workers’and community health at risk. The NGOs also warned the government that the ship should not be scuttled or sunk to become an “artificial reef” or any other form of deliberate sinking, which the Brazilian Navy shockingly discussed as a possibility in a December 29 inter-agency meeting.

"What we are witnessing with the SÃO PAULO is gross negligence on the part of Brazil. We urge the new Lula administration to take immediate action to ensure that the aircraft carrier does not cause harm to the coastal environment in Brazil and finally is recycled in line with the best available practice."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director & Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform


For more information:


Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, e-mail:, Phone: +1 206-354-0391

NGO Shipbreaking Platform, e-mail:, Phone: +32 (0)260.94.419