The oldest Brazilian Navy ship in service completes 85 yearsThe oldest Brazilian Navy ship in service completes 85 years

Monitor Parnaíba participated in World War II and is subordinated to the Mato Grosso Flotilla Command, in Ladário-MS

By First-Lieutenant (RM2-T) Juliana Rodrigues Affe – Ladário, MS

At 15:00 on November 6, 1937, a ship, with a unique Brazilian design, was ready at the Rio de Janeiro Navy Arsenal, marking the resumption of shipbuilding in Brazil in the 20th century. That afternoon it was officially incorporated into the Brazilian Navy, launched to sea, and baptized as Monitor Parnaíba (MParnaíba). Today, it holds the title of oldest ship of the Brazilian Navy (MB) in service.

At 85 years of age, the MParnaíba has, in its decks, stories and episodes that make this ship a cultural heritage of the MB. The keel was laid on June 11, 1935, on Ilha das Cobras (RJ), marking the official beginning of the construction of the hull. Finally, 17 months after intense work, the MParnaíba floated for the first time and opened the way for new constructions in the Brazilian naval industry.

From the Paraguay River to the Atlantic

Parnaíba, em 1945, retornando à sede, Ladário (MS) – Imagem: Marinha do Brasil 

A glance at the past shows important historical facts about the MParnaíba. In March 1938, the ship was incorporated to the Mato Grosso Flotilla and, in April 1943, it was disincorporated and included in the Naval Force subordinated to the Eastern Naval Command, headquartered in Salvador-BA, in order to escort convoys and patrol the port during the Second World War.

When called to duty, he endured the harsh conditions of war operations and fulfilled his mission, sailing 3,570 miles during the conflict. In May 1945, it returned to its headquarters, Ladário (MS), where it remains subordinate.

Modernization of the MParnaíba

After more than 60 years of service, the MParnaíba went through a modernization process and, as a result, had its service life extended with more autonomy, effectiveness, mobility, flexibility and firepower. The work, which lasted a little more than a year and a half, was started in January 1998. In April, part of the superstructure and internal compartments of the ship were rebuilt, and the deck plating also began to be assembled.

By July, two diesel engines were installed, a major upgrade. The old steam engines were preserved, and one was transferred to the Arsenal of the Navy in Rio de Janeiro and the other is in Ladário (MS). The latter is exposed in the Memory Room “Tenente Maximiano”, which keeps historical pieces of the MB, and operates by means of an electric engine, to demonstrate to the visitors how it originally worked in the Machine Room.

The room installed in the 6th Naval District Command (Com6ºDN) is a tribute to the man from Pernambuco who joined the MB, as a volunteer, at the age of 20, in 1913. Retired First-Lieutenant Maximiano José dos Santos participated in two World Wars and in other conflicts, lived most of his life in the Pantanal region, and died in 2006, at 113 years old, leaving as legacy his remarkable career. In the Second World War, the then Petty Officer Maximiano stood out for his act of bravery and heroism when fighting a fire of great proportions in the boiler room of the MParnaíba.

After a period of repairs and upgrades, on November 6, 1999, on the 62nd anniversary of its incorporation, the ship began a new cycle, now modernized and the only one in the Pantanal capable of operating with organic aircraft. The following month, a UH-12 aircraft from the then 4th General Helicopter Squadron landed, for the first time, on board the MParnaíba. In March of this year, landing number 2500 took place.

In March 2022, the MParnaíba registered 2,500 landings in its convoy, built 23 years ago – Image: Marinha do Brasil

MParnaíba in Brazil and abroad

The MParnaíba, also known as “Jaú do Pantanal” in reference to a wide-mouthed pantanal fish, is one of the ships that sail the Paraguay River the most, carrying out operations that contribute to the application of Naval Power in the area of jurisdiction of the Com6ºDN (Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul).

At 85 years of age, the Navy’s master cave, subordinated to the Mato Grosso Flotilla Command (ComFlotMT), Military Organization belonging to the 6th DN continues to fulfill its mission, in Brazil and abroad.

Every year, the MParnaíba conducts naval patrols and riverine operations together with other ships from ComFlotMT, participating in joint and combined operations, such as Operation ACRUX, which brings together the navies of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia, with the purpose of training the means involved in a Combined Riverine Operation.

MParnaíba steam engine is the main attraction at the “Lieutenant Maximiano” Memory Room, which gathers historic collection of the Force – Image: Marinha do Brasil

The history of the MParnaíba through the eyes of those who are proud of it

Commanding the MParnaíba, in the words of Corvette Captain Dison José de Oliveira Santos Filho, who took office in June 2022, is like breathing history. “It’s carrying on your shoulders the legacy of great men, heroes of the Homeland. To be part of the 85th anniversary celebrations and to write my name together with so many others who preceded me and worked on these decks, in the Pantanal scenario or at sea, in times of peace or war. For me, it is an honor that words can hardly express the feeling.

Of the 35 years, three months and nine days of active service time of Suboficial-SI Joacélio Alves de Freitas, military from Fortaleza (CE), 18 were aboard the MParnaíba, being 14 uninterrupted. In 2020, the Suboficial was transferred to the paid reserve, but returned to the Com6ºDN contracted for a fixed term at the Ladário Fluvial Base. “I arrived in Ladario in December 1992 and boarded directly at the MParnaíba. After serving for a while in the Flotilla building, I returned to the ship and took over the assignment of controlling organic aircraft landings, so I remember exactly the day of the first landing in the new deck, on December 6, 1999,” he recalled.

When asked about his experience on board, the answer is quick and simple: “I say it was easy, because everything becomes easy when the environment is very good at work and at home. I also talk about the most remarkable fact for me, which was when, in commission, on a Sunday, we brought to Corumbá a lady in labor. She was already going down the river, more or less in the region of the Paraguay Mirim, about 130 kilometers from the port. Events like this, among so many other memories, are what I treasure from my days aboard the Jaú do Pantanal,” he said.

By admin