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SH-3A Sea King
The light aircraft carrier NAeL Minas Gerais was withdrawn from service in 2001 after serving in the Brazilian Navy for almost 41 years. The Minas Gerais had been the oldest aircraft carrier in the world for many years.
Like Argentina's 25 de Mayo (former Dutch Karel Doorman), she was a
Colossus-class carrier built during World War Two in Portsmouth. Altough she was launched in 1944 as HMS Vengeance of the Royal Navy, she was too late to see any action during the war.

In 1952 the Vengeance was loaned to the Australian Navy, and sold to Brazil in 1956. After a major refit in Rotterdam, the carrier sailed to Rio de Janeiro in December 1960.

The carrier's air wing usually included several S-2E Trackers of the Brazilian Air Force, SH-3 Sea Kings, AS332 Super Pumas and HB350 Esquilos of the Navy. After the Trackers were withdrawn from service in 1996, the
Minas Gerais continued serving as a helicopter carrier.

From 1965 to 1998 the Navy had no permission from the government to have her own fixed-wing aircraft, thus limiting the fleet to helicopters. As soon as the ban was lifted, the Navy bought 23 A-4 Skyhawks. After some test flights from the Minas Gerias, the Navy decided to purchase a newer, larger carrier. In 2001 the old ship was replaced by the NAe São Paulo, the former Foch of the French Navy.

A
British group tried to safe the former Vengeance during 2003 and 2004, but failed to raise enough funds to get the carrier to England. The historical important ship was finally scrapped on a beach in India in 2004. A terrible waste.

Read about the NAe São Paulo here

The photos on this page were taken in October 1996 during a week long cruise in the South Atlantic. Articles with these photos were published in magazines like Onze Luchtmacht (Netherlands) and Air International (UK).
Minas Gerais
HB350 Esquilos
twin-engined HB355 Esquilo
SH-3A hovering
SH-3 Sea King being refuelled
AS332 Super Puma
SH-3B Sea King
AS332 Super Puma