The Minas Geraes class
, spelled Minas Gerais
in some sources, consisted of two battleships
built for the Brazilian Navy
by the British company Armstrong Whitworth
. The ships were named Minas Geraes
, after the Brazilian state
, and São Paulo
, which honored both the state
. They were intended to be Brazil's first step towards becoming an international power.
In 1904, Brazil began a major naval building program that included three 11,800-long-ton (12,000 tonne) small battleships. Designing and ordering the ships took two years, but these plans were scrapped after the revolutionary dreadnought concept rendered the Brazilian design totally obsolete. Two of these dreadnoughts were ordered instead, making Brazil became the third country to have ships of this type under construction, before traditional powers like Germany, France or Russia. As such, the ships caused quite a stir among the major countries in the world, many of whom incorrectly speculated the ships were actually destined for a rival nation.
Soon after their delivery in 1910, both Minas Geraes and São Paulo were embroiled in the Revolt of the Lash (Revolta da Chibata), in which the crews of four Brazilian ships demanded the abolition of corporal punishment in the navy. The ships surrendered four days after it began, when a bill was passed granting amnesty to all involved. In 1922, the two battleships put down a revolt at Fort Copacabana. Two years later, lieutenants on São Paulo mutinied but found little support from other military units, so they sailed to Montevideo, Uruguay, and requested asylum. Minas Geraes was modernized in the 1930s, but both battleships were too old to actively participate in the Second World War, and instead were employed as harbor defense ships in Salvador and Recife. São Paulo was sold in 1951 to a British shipbreaker, but was lost in a storm north of the Azores while being towed to her final destination. Minas Geraes was sold to an Italian scrapper in 1953 and towed to Genoa the following year.