The former corvette Alfonso Ceirquera was scuttled off the cliffs of Madeira Island.
In a deafening crash and a grey cloud, the old hull built in the 1970s sank into the Atlantic with its toxic paints, PCB-coated wiring, asbestos and old engines seeping oils and fuel.
Portugal is a contracting Party to the Ospar Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, which has prohibited the dumping of ships since 2004.
Inspired by its colonial past, Portugal scuttled its former military ship in the South Atlantic off the coast of Africa, outside the jurisdiction of the Ospar Convention.
The operation mobilized pyrotechnic devices and explosives that propagated shock waves and underwater noises stressing the marine wildlife.
This “oceanization” is particularly inappropriate at a time when the 67th meeting of the International Whaling Commission is beginning in Brazil and the European Union is presenting a resolution calling for the reduction of human-induced underwater noise. Whales and other marine mammals are sensitive to acoustic disturbances.
The waters around Madeira are frequented by sperm whales and beaked whales, among other species.
Under the guise of developing subaquatic tourism and creating an artificial reef, this Portuguese initiative is actually putting a mask on a deal to lighten administrative and financial burden. This deal is leading to a further sea pollution. It is also a bad signal to all the European Union’s Navies, to African countries which are also tempted by oceanization to get rid of bulky old hulls, and a counterweight to the European strategy on ship demolition and recycling.
Since December 2016, Portugal has had a scrapping site in Aveiro approved by the European Union. The sea is not a scrapping site.
Robin des Bois (Robin Hood) is going to exert pressure on the European Union and Portugal to ensure that former Portuguese military vessels are destroyed and recycled in European yards and that the two oceanizations still planned are cancelled.
See also :
Abstract of “Shipbreaking” #28 about ship demolition in Portugal  (1.5 Mo – pdf)