Portuguese Navy

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Portuguese Navy
Marinha Portuguesa
Portuguese Navy Heraldry.jpg
Portuguese Navy Heraldry
Founded 1180
Country Portugal Portugal
Branch Navy
Size 8,908 Personnel[1]
5 Frigates
7 Corvettes
2 Submarines
18 Patrol Boats
1 Landing Craft Utility
2 Support Ships
4 Survey vessels
3 Training Ships
5 Helicopters
Part of Portuguese Armed Forces
Garrison/HQ Lisbon Naval Base
Patron Henry the Navigator
Motto Honrai a Pátria que a Pátria vos contempla (Honor the Fatherland that the Fatherland beholds you)
Anniversaries 20 May (Discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama)
Luís Manuel Fourneaux Macieira Fragoso
Naval Ensign Flag of Portugal.svg
Naval pennant Portuguese pennant.svg
Naval Jack Naval Jack of Portugal.svg
Aircraft flown
Helicopter Westland Lynx

The Portuguese Navy (Portuguese: Marinha Portuguesa, also known as Marinha de Guerra Portuguesa or as Armada Portuguesa) is the naval branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in cooperation and integrated with the other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the military defence of Portugal. The Portuguese Navy also participates in missions related with international commitments assumed by Portugal (mainly within NATO), as well as missions of civil interest.

Today, the Portuguese Navy assumes a dual role capacity: Naval combat missions to assure Portugal's sovereignty and international commitments, and coast guard operations in its territorial waters and areas of influence.

The Portuguese Navy, tracing back to the 12th century, is the oldest continuously serving navy in the world.


Creation of the Portuguese Navy[edit]

The first known battle of the Portuguese Navy was in 1180, during the reign of Portugal's first king, Afonso I of Portugal. The battle occurred when a Portuguese fleet commanded by the knight Fuas Roupinho defeated a Muslim fleet near Cape Espichel. He also made two incursions at Ceuta, in 1181 and 1182, and died during the last of these attempts to conquer Ceuta.

During the 13th century, in the Portuguese Reconquista, the Portuguese Navy helped in the conquest of several littoral moorish towns, like Alcácer do Sal, Silves and Faro. It was also used in the battles against Castile through incursions in Galicia and Andalucia, and also in joint actions with other Christian fleets against the Muslims.

In 1317 King Denis of Portugal decided to give, for the first time, a permanent organization to the Royal Navy, contracting Manuel Pessanha of Genoa to be the first Admiral of the Kingdom. In 1321 the navy successfully attacked Muslim ports in North Africa.

Maritime insurance began in 1323 in Portugal, and between 1336 and 1341 the first attempts at maritime expansion are made, with the expedition to Canary Islands, sponsored by King Afonso IV.

In the context of the 1383–85 Crisis, the Portuguese Navy took an active participation in the war against Castile. A Portuguese naval campaign conducted in Galicia let to the conquest of the costal towns of Baiona, A Coruña and Neda, as well as the destruction of the naval base of Ferrol and of several ships that were on the way to reinforce the Castilian forces that were besieging Lisbon. In July 1384, the Portuguese Navy was able to break the Castilian siege of Lisbon and to supply the city, defeating the Castilian Navy in the naval battle of the Tagus.

At the end of the 14th century, more Portuguese discoveries were made, with the Navy playing a main role in the exploration of the oceans and the defense of the Portuguese Empire. Portugal became the first oceanic navy power.

Conquests and Discoveries[edit]

In the beginning of the 15th century, the country entered a period of peace and stability. Europe was still involved in wars and feudal conflicts which allows Portugal to be the only capable country to methodically and successfully start the exploration of the Atlantic.

Portuguese expansion during the 15th century can be divided in:

  • Territorial expansion to North Africa
  • Hydrographic survey of the African coast and Canary Islands
  • Oceanographic and meteorologic survey of the Atlantic Ocean
  • Development of navigation techniques and methods

Territorial expansion began in Morocco with the conquest of Ceuta in 1415. Exploration in the west African coast started in 1412 and ended with the crossing of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.

The 15th and 16th centuries[edit]

Replica of a 15th-century Portuguese caravel.

After his return from Ceuta, Henry the navigator founded a school of navigation in Sagres, which was a place to discuss the art of navigation. The vessel employed in the beginning of the Discoveries was the caravel, varying from 50 to 160 tons. The first results came soon and Gonçalves Zarco discovers the Porto Santo Island in 1419 and the Madeira Island in 1420, Diogo de Silves discovers the azorean island of Santa Maria in 1427.

In 1424, Gil Eanes crosses the Cape Bojador. Diogo Cão and Bartolomeu Dias arrived to the mouth of the Zaire River in 1482. In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias becomes the first European to sail around the southernmost tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope.

João Vaz Corte-Real arrives to Newfoundland in 1473. Part of the coast of Newfoundland would be charted by the Corte-Real brothers, sons of João Vaz Corte-Real, in a failed attempt to find the Northwest Passage in 1501. In 1499, João Fernandes Lavrador and Pêro de Barcelos arrive to Labrador (named after the previous one) and map its coast.

The greatest achievement of these exploration voyages was attained by Vasco da Gama, who in 1498 becomes the European discoverer of the sea route to India.

In 1500, when leading a second Portuguese Armada of 13 ships to India, Pedro Álvares Cabral discovers and explores Brazil, claiming it for Portugal. In the same year, Diogo Dias, as one of the Captains of the fleet to India of Pedro Álvares Cabral, is separated from the main fleet by a storm while crossing the Cape of Good Hope, and becomes the first European to reach Madagascar.

With the first established sea route to the Indian Ocean, the Portuguese started to use the carrack ship (nau in Portuguese). Nevertheless, the Portuguese penetration in the Indian Ocean was not peaceful due to the opposition of the Muslims. However, in 1509 Francisco de Almeida had a tremendous victory over the Muslims in the naval Battle of Diu, and the Portuguese presence in the area is definitely attained.

The carrack Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai and other Portuguese Navy' ships in the 16th century.

In Morocco the Portuguese conquests continue and they take over the cities of Safim, Azamor, Mazagão and Mogador.

In the east, Portuguese navigators continue their progress visiting the southeast of Asia, China in 1517 and Australia in 1522. In the same period they reach Taiwan and Japan where they become the first Europeans to arrive.

They enter the Red Sea in 1542 to destroy the Ottoman armada in Suez.

In the west the Portuguese visited the coast of New England in 1520, California in 1542 and Hudson Bay in 1588.

All these actions were only possible with the naval capability, the navigation knowledge of these navigators, an enormous courage and determination.

Habsburg Dynasty[edit]

Following the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580 and having defeated António, Prior of Crato in the War of the Portuguese Succession, the Habsburg Philip II of Spain became King of Portugal as Philip I. Under the Iberian Union, Portugal continued to be formally an independent kingdom with its own Navy, but its foreign and naval policies became increasingly subordinated and oriented through the Spanish interests.

The Portuguese galleon São Martinho, flagship of the Spanish Armada, in the battle of Gravelines.

The Portuguese Navy was soon ordered by King Philip to contribute to the Spanish Armada intended to invade England, this being an old Portuguese ally that started to be considered enemy by the alignment with the Spanish policies. Portugal provided some of the most powerful ships of the Armada, including its flagship, the galleon São Martinho. The Portuguese participation included a squadron of galleons and another of galleys, with a total of 16 ships and more than 5,800 men. This expedition culminated in the naval battle of Gravelines.

Linked to Spain by a dual monarchy, Portugal saw its large Empire being attacked by the English, the French and the Dutch, all enemies of Spain. The reduced Portuguese population (around one million) wasn't enough to resist to so many enemies, and the Empire started to fall apart.

The Portuguese Navy was still involved in several other conflicts and maintained an important role in the fight against pirates. António Saldanha commanding a fleet of 30 carracks defeated an Ottoman fleet in the Mediterranean and conquered Tunis.

Meanwhile, João Queirós accomplishes a double crossing of the Pacific Ocean leaving from California.

In 1618, the first naval infantry regiment is founded (Portuguese: Terço da Armada da Coroa de Portugal), origin of both of the modern marine corps of Portugal and of Brazil.

A major joint Portuguese-Spanish naval and military expedition was organized in 1625 to retake Salvador da Bahia in Brazil from the Dutch that had captured the city one year before. The Portuguese fleet was headed by Manuel de Menezes and composed by 22 ships and about 4,000 men, including the Terço da Armada da Coroa de Portugal.

Portuguese Restoration War[edit]

On the December 1st, 1640, the Portuguese revolted and the full independence of Portugal was restored after 60 years of Spanish domination. To defend its independence, the Portuguese Restoration War had to be fought against Spain. Although, the threat of from the powerful Spanish Navy existed, no major naval engagements occurred, the War being fight mainly on land. At the same time Portugal made peace agreements with England, France and the Netherlands.

In the period of the Restoration War, the major engagements of the Portuguese Navy were not against the Spanish but against the Dutch, that took advantage from the difficult conditions caused by the war effort of Portugal in Europe, to capture some of its colonies in America, Africa and Asia. Despite some important initial blows, the Portuguese were finally able to react and to recapture Northeast Brazil, Angola, São Tomé and Ano Bom from the Dutch, in several naval and military campaigns.

In 1660, the Portuguese naval captain David Melgueiro makes the first supposed crossing of the Northeast Passage, sailing from Japan to Portugal through the Arctic Ocean.

The 18th century[edit]

During the reign of King John V of Portugal the Navy suffers a large transformation, during which the warship starts to differentiate from the merchant ship.

In 1705, a squadron of eight ships of the line went to Gibraltar to help England against Spain and France.

In 1717, the Portuguese Navy, under the command of the Count of Rio Grande, defeated the Ottoman Navy in the Battle of Matapan.

The Royal Academy of the Midshipmen (Academia Real dos Guardas-Marinhas) was created in 1792, as an university-level naval academy. This Academy is the origin of the present Naval schools of Portugal and of Brazil.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

In the late 18th century, under the command of the Marquis of Nisa, the Portuguese Navy took part in the Mediterranean Campaign of 1798 against the French Republic in Egypt and in the Siege of Malta.

In November 1807, General Jean-Andoche Junot invaded Portugal in an attempt to expand Napoleon's continental empire. Prince Regent John, with his country in disarray, called upon Portugal's Navy to save the crown. On November 29, the Prince Regent sailed for Brazil with some 15,000 members of the government and their families. The Portuguese fleet succeeded in preserving the Government until it could return later. The fleet that sailed for Brazil had one 84 gun ship of the line, the Príncipe Real. In addition there were three 74 gun ships, the Rainha de Portugal, Príncipe do Brasil and the Conde D. Henrique and four ships of 64 guns each along with four British warships.

Political instability dominated Portugal during the 19th century after the Napoleonic invasions. The Navy entered a period of crisis which only ended on the turn to the 20th century, suffering a blow at the hands of the French navy at the Battle of the Tagus, and fighting a fratricide Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1833.

Late 19th century to World War I[edit]

From the end of the 19th century and until the beginning of World War I, the Portuguese Navy was modernized and received a series of new warships, including six cruisers, four torpedo boats, a torpedo gunboat, a submarine, two destroyers, 13 gunships and others.

World War I[edit]

Armoured cruiser Vasco da Gama, in the early 20th century.

During the first World War, the main role of the Portuguese Navy was to patrol Portuguese waters, search for submarines, escort merchant vessels and transport troops to France and Africa. The Portuguese Navy received additional submarines and destroyers and created a naval aviation. In addition, several merchant ships were adapted and transformed into warships.[citation needed]

The most important events were the Action of 14 October 1918 between the patrol boat NRP Augusto de Castilho (commanded by Carvalho Araújo) and the German submarine U-139, the sinking of the mine-sweeper NRP Roberto Ivens due to a collision with a sea mine, outside Lisbon harbour and the amphibious operations led by the cruiser NRP Adamastor in the border between Portuguese and German Eastern Africa.

After the war, Portugal built two new destroyers and two new gunships,[citation needed] and also acquired two cruisers from the United Kingdom and six torpedo-boats from Austria.[citation needed]

In 1922, the Portuguese naval officers Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic.

World War II[edit]

NRP Afonso de Albuquerque, one of the ships of the Portuguese Naval Program of the 1930s.

Before World War II, from 1933 to 1936, the Portuguese Navy underwent a profound reorganization, launching a vast naval program and acquiring a total of 22 new warships, including destroyers, submarines and avisos (colonial sloops).[citation needed] An aircraft carrier started to be built, but was later canceled.[citation needed]

During the second World War the Portuguese Navy defended at sea and air Portuguese neutrality. A particular concern was the defense of the strategic Atlantic islands of the Azores against a possible invasion. Due to the vast overseas empire, with territories in Africa, Asia and Oceania, the assets were not enough, but still it was possible to maintain the integrity of the different parcels of the Empire, with the exception of Portuguese Timor, which was occupied by Australia and Netherlands, followed by Imperial Japan from 1942 through to 1945.

After the cession of hostilities in 1945, the Portuguese Navy organized an expedition to Timor to perform the reoccupation of the territory and to fully restore Portuguese sovereignty. The naval component of the expedition included the avisos NRP Bartolomeu Dias, NRP Gonçalves Zarco and NRP Afonso de Albuquerque, plus two transport ships with about 2000 troops on board .

After World War II, Portugal was one of the founding nations of NATO contributing with a fleet of three submarines, seven frigates, four patrol boats, 16 mine-sweepers, four mine-hunters and three survey vessels.

The Overseas wars[edit]

After half a century, the Portuguese Navy was in combat again during the second half of the 20th century. These combats took place in the Indian Ocean against the Indian Union and in Africa against the independence movements of the Portuguese territories.

On the December 18, 1961, the Indian Armed Forces launched a massive attack against the Portuguese India, invading the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu with land, air and naval forces. The Indian naval forces attacking Goa included an aircraft carrier, two cruisers, eight frigates and five other ships. Besides three small patrol boats, one each in Goa, Daman and Diu, the Portuguese naval forces comprised only the old sloop NRP Afonso de Albuquerque, based in Goa. Besides its mission of facing the enemy naval units, the Afonso de Albuquerque was also tasked with serving as coastal battery for the defense of the Mormugao harbor, as well as providing vital radio communications with Lisbon after on-shore radio facilities had been destroyed in Indian air-strikes.

The Afonso de Albuquerque engaged in the last conventional battle fought by the Portuguese Navy to the present day, when, at the 12h00 of December 18, several Indian frigates entered Mormugao harbor and opened fire. In response, the Afonso lifted anchor, headed out towards the enemy and returned fire with its 120 mm guns. For about an hour, the Afonso was able to sustain a battle with the Indian ships, firing nearly 400 rounds and hitting two of the enemy vessels. Finally, after having suffered severe damage from the enemy fire, with five of the crew killed and 13 injured (including its captain), the ship was stranded and latter evacuated by the crew under heavy bombardment. [2]

The patrol boat NRP Vega also engaged in combat when trying to defend Diu from the Indian air attacks, firing at the enemy aircrafts with its 20 mm gun. In retaliation, the Indian aircraft attacked the Vega, destroying it and killing its captain, 2nd Lieutenant Oliveira e Carmo and another sailor. [3]

NRP António Enes (F471), a Portuguese-designed Overseas War era João Coutinho class corvette.

During the Overseas wars fought in Africa (1961–1975), Portugal's Navy played a fundamental role in combat, patrol and amphibious missions in the ocean and inland waters of Angola, Portuguese Guinea and Mozambique as well as providing long-range and coastal logistics to the Portuguese Armed forces in its overseas territories in the Atlantic (Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea, Angola), Indian (Mozambique) and Pacific Oceans (Portuguese Timor and Macau). In amphibious missions the action of the Portuguese Marines was fundamental. Two types of Marine units were created, the Special Marines (fuzileiros especiais) specialized in offensive operations and the Marines (fuzileiros) for the defense of naval assets. The Portuguese Navy had to equip itself with a large fleet of small units including corvettes, patrol boats and landing craft, many of them designed and built in Portugal.

In the Angolan theater, the main focus of the Portuguese Navy effort was the protection of the Zaire River, to avoid the infiltration of UPA/FNLA and MPLA guerrillas from the bordering Republic of Zaire. This mission was done by the patrol and landing crafts of the Zaire Flotilla, occasionally supported by frigates, and by units of Marines using rubber boats. In the late 1960s, the Navy also started to focus in the Eastern Angola, a vast remote and almost desert region located at more than 1000 kms from the coast, establishing naval and Marine units that operated in the Zambezi, Cuando, Cuanza and other local rivers, against the MPLA guerrillas operating in the area. In the end of 1968, the Command of the Navy Forces in the East was established in a base located in a region known as the Terras do Fim do Mundo (the Lands of the End of the World), that gave origin to a small town named Vila Nova da Armada (New Town of the Navy).

From 1970, the Portuguese naval presence in Angola stabilized, including one frigate in rotation, four patrol ships, 11 patrol motor launches, 15 landing crafts, two Special Marine detachments, four Marine companies and five detachments of the Navy Forces in the East.

The landing craft NRP Alfange (LDG101) supplying the garrison of Babadinca, Portuguese Guinea, in the early 1970s.

Due to geographical and hydrological characteristics of the Portuguese Guinea, it was in this theater of operations that the Navy could give a proportionately higher contribution to the Portuguese war effort. Guinea is crossed by a multitude of water streams, many of them navigable rivers, and a large part of its territory is marshy and flooded. This conditions allowed the Portuguese Navy to intervene in virtually all the territory, including in the interior regions. By the other side, in this theater, the Portuguese forces faced the PAIGC, probably the best organized, trained and equipped of the independence movements, that from a certain point, managed to obtain a combat potential often equivalent or even superior to that of the Portuguese, which led to the conflict take on many characteristics of a conventional and no longer a mere guerrilla warfare. The PAIGC was even able to create its own Navy, equipped with some Eastern Bloc and Chinese naval assets, including modern P 4-class torpedo boats that constituted an additional threat to be faced by the Portuguese naval forces. Besides this, the PAIGC benefited from the support of the neighbors countries of Senegal and specially, of the Republic of Guinea, which, given the relatively small land area of the Portuguese Guinea, allowed its forces to be able to launch direct attacks against the Portuguese garrisons from their bases in those countries. In this theater, the Portuguese Navy played the most varied missions, including most of the logistical support to the Portuguese military units scattered throughout the territory, fire support to the land forces, amphibious assaults with Marine units and the interdiction of the water supply lines used by the PAIGC.

The Portuguese naval presence in Guinea, from 1964, included a frigate, seven patrol boats, 15 landing craft, four Special Marine detachments and two Marine companies. Latter, additional landing craft and a Sapper Divers unit would be added. In 1971, in the scope of the "Africanization" policy of the General Spínola, two African Special Marines detachments were created, staffed with personnel recruited locally in the Portuguese Guinea.

To expel the PAIGC forces that were occupying the Como island in the Portuguese Guinea, in January 1964, the Portuguese Armed Forces launch the Operation Trident (Operação Tridente), a major conventional type joint operation, on which, for the first time ship based helicopters were used and large scale amphibious assaults were made. These assaults were supported by naval bombardments and air strikes. Anchored off the island, the NRP Nuno Tristão frigate served as the command post of the Operation.

In 1970, the Naval Forces in the Portuguese Guinea perform the Operation Green Sea (Operação Mar Verde), a major amphibious raid on Conakry, the capital of the neighbor Guinea Republic, an openly supporter and base of the PAIGC forces. During the night of 21–22 November, the Portuguese forces were able to invade the city, destroying several naval and military assets of the PAIGC and of the Guinean Army and rescuing 26 Portuguese POWs.

In the theatre of Mozambique, the main operational focus of the Portuguese Navy was the Lake Nyasa, in an effort to deter FRELIMO forces infiltrations from their bases in Tanzania and to cooperate with the Military of Malawi. This mission was done by the Nyasa Flotilla, operating mainly from the Metangula naval base, and by units of marines. The establishment of the Nyasa Flotilla was possible by the organization of complex logistical operations to transport a total of 12 patrol and landing craft from the coastal port of Nacala to the Lake Nyassa, in a route of about 750 km by land. In the scope of the cooperation with the neighbor Malawi, the Portuguese Navy was deeply involved in the organization of its naval forces, transferring to them some of the Nyassa Flotilla boats. The Navy also focused in the resupply of the Portuguese Forces operating in Northern Mozambique, connecting them, by sea, with the main logistical centers in Lourenço Marques and Beira. With the beginning of the construction of the Cahora Bassa Dam and the spread of the FRELIMO guerrillas to the Tete region, in the early 1970s, the Navy oriented part of its effort to the Zambezi River.

In addition to its commitment in the Mozambican theatre of operations against the independence forces, from 1966 to 1975, the Portuguese Navy had to maintain an oceanic force in the Mozambique Channel, composed of frigates on rotation, to deter any possible hostile action from the Beira Patrol, the naval force that kept stationed off the port of Beira to try to force the embargo of oil to Rhodesia, following its unilateral declaration of independence.

From 1971, the Portuguese naval presence in Mozambique included three frigates or corvettes, one logistical support ship, three patrol boats and one landing craft in the Indian Ocean, five patrol boats and seven landing craft in the Lake Nyassa, three Special Marines detachments and three Marine companies.

Activity Since 1975[edit]

NRP Magalhães Correia (F474), a Cold War era Portuguese-built Pereira da Silva class anti-submarine frigate.

The Portuguese Navy participated in various long-range missions where it has effectively conducted Portugal's foreign policy, using its units solely or integrated in vaster campaigns articulated with the Portuguese Army and the Portuguese Air Force. The Portuguese Navy has been especially active in peace-enforcement campaigns using combat ships, helicopter missions and special force marine detachments in amphibious and air evacuation of Portuguese nationals and other foreign civilians from dangerous war zones in Sub-Saharan Africa. The most notable missions performed were in Bolama (Guinea-Bissau, 1990), Luanda (Angola, 1992), and Bissau (Guinea-Bissau, 1998 and again in 1999). In these theatres the Portuguese Armed Forces set up secure zones amidst the combat areas, and evacuation units, sometimes operated by Portuguese Army special forces or Portuguese Marines Special Actions Detachment (DAE) to retrieve civilians from hot-spots and evacuate them onto frigates stationed off-shore or onto Portuguese Air Force C-130 Hercules transports, as in Angola in 1992. [1].

The Portuguese Navy has also actively participated in several international peace-keeping and peace-enforcing efforts in conjunction with other NATO, United Nations or European Union forces in numerous theatres, distant from Portuguese territory.

During the liberation of Kuwait in 1990–91, the Portuguese Navy logistics ship NRP São Gabriel supported allied forces in the Persian Gulf. In the various Balkan wars which resulted from the dismembering of Yugoslavia, the Portuguese Navy was an active player in Portugal's UN and NATO commitment, maintaining a frigate with DAE special forces in the Adriatic Sea continuously between 1991 and 2000, and commanding the NATO Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean Sea in December 2001 and January 2002. Closer to home, the Portuguese Navy has consistently contributed patrol boats and corvettes to joint-nation EU exercises designed to aid Spain in dealing with its problem of illegal immigration and drug-trafficking off its the Southern coast and the Canary Islands. During the Prestige oil-spill incident, off the coast of Northern Spain, Portugal dispatched various frigates and surveillance aircraft to the area, which were fundamental in providing independent information regarding the events.

Portuguese Navy Marine contingents have also participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Kinshasa (Zaire, 1997) and Congo (1998), East Timor (1999–2004), the European Union Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, and the NATO fleet off the coast of Somalia, where Portugal's Navy has played a prominent role. During the flooding of the Save River, in Mozambique (2000) a detachment of Portuguese Marines conducted flood rescue operations as part of the humanitarian relief effort. [2]

During the onset of East Timor's independence from Indonesia in 1999, Portugal sent two frigates and various troops to aid its former colony in the Pacific Ocean. The NRP Vasco da Gama and the NRP Hermenegildo Capelo remained in the area until mid-2001 [3]. A company of 155 Marines was also sent to the territory as part of Portugal's UN peacekeeping role while the situation was volatile. Since 2004 a smaller detachment of Portuguese Marines is integrated in the Timor Military Liaison Group [4] closely coordinated with the Portuguese National Republican Guard (GNR) contingent stationed in the capital, Dili, and the Armed Forces of Timor.

The Vasco da Gama class frigates NRP Álvares Cabral and NRP Corte Real have regularly contributed to long-range NATO exercises in the Indian Ocean, and both have served as NATO task-force flagships in the mission against Piracy in Somalia. During 2009 and January 2010, the NATO fleet in the Gulf of Aden was commanded by the Portuguese Navy [5], who received the award of "exceptional bravery at sea" from the International Maritime Organization for its successful attacks on pirate activity, conducted by the Corte Real frigate during the peak of pirate activity. [6] [7].


Distinctive flag of the Chief of Staff of the Portuguese Navy.

The Portuguese Navy is under the command of the Chief of Staff of the Navy (CEMA, Chefe do Estado-Maior da Armada). He is the only full Admiral in active service in the Navy and is proposed by the Government and vested by the President of Portugal.

Besides the CEMA and under his command the Portuguese Navy includes:

  • the Naval Staff (EMA, Estado-Maior da Armada);
  • Central bodies of administration: services of Personnel, Material, Financial, Hydrographic and Data Analisys and Management;
  • Advising bodies: councils of the Admiralty, of Discipline, of Health and of Culture;
  • Territorial bodies: Naval School, Naval Technology School, Communications and Cipher Center, cultural bodies and service execution bodies;
  • Bodies of the Maritime Authority System: Directory-General of Maritime Authority and Maritime Police;
  • the Naval Command, including:

Ships and weapon systems[edit]


NRP Corte Real (F332), a modern Vasco da Gama class multi-purpose frigate.


Ranks and ratings[edit]

Naval ratings

  • Segundo-Grumete Reculta - Seaman Recruit
  • Segundo-Grumete - Seaman Apprentice
  • Primeiro-Grumete - Seaman
  • Segundo-Marinheiro - Able Seaman
  • Primeiro-Marinheiro - Leading Seaman
  • Cabo - Master Seaman
  • Segundo-Subsargento - Petty Officer
  • Subsargento - Chief Petty Officer
  • Segundo-Sargento - Senior Chief Petty Officer
  • Primeiro-Sargento - Master Chief Petty Officer
  • Sargento-ajudante - Fleet Chief Petty Officer
  • Sargento-chefe - Warrant Officer Class 2
  • Sargento-mor - Warrant Officer Class 1


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.emgfa.pt/pt/organizacao
  2. ^ http://www.areamilitar.net/DIRECTORIO/NAV.aspx?NN=128
  3. ^ "The fall of the Portuguese India" by Carlos Alexandre de Morais, ISBN 972-33-1134-8