Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR February 2016 Contents 44 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter FEB 2016
The primary purpose of the Portuguese Navy is
to contribute to the military defence of Portugal
or to participate in international missions (mainly
within NATO). In peace time the submarine force
contributes to deterrence and assistance in missions
of civil interest.
Portugal’s coastline is 1,794 km long but the
Navy’s area of responsibility extends to the strategic
islands of Azores, 1,360 km west of continental
Portugal, and Madeira, 960 km south west of Lisbon.
The Armada Portuguesa Navy is a small Navy,
albeit one with a proud history dating back to 1180.
It has five frigates, six corvettes and a number of
The Portuguese Navy has two Type 209PNs. The
submarine looks, feels and smells like a Type 214
(a class of submarine which the author has been to
sea on numerous times). It comes with a fuel cell AIP
system and a fully integrated ISUS 90 combat system
that can launch Italian Black Shark torpedoes, US
Harpoon UGM-84L missiles and Italian Murena multi-
influence bottom mines. The submarines operate from
Lisbon, the Armada’s only naval base.
The 209PNs were preceded by a Portuguese
variant of the French Daphne Class. The Daphne is
relevant noting the last of this class only withdrew
from service in 2010, the year they received the first
boat from TKMS. Four of them were procured in
1967. At the time the Portuguese Navy was limited in
its submarines options because the United Nations
had imposed an arms embargo on the country
relating to international charges of the repression of
people in the Portuguese territories. None the less,
they were happy with the boats they received from
DCNS. They gained four decades of operation from
the Daphnes; assisted by solid co-operation and
support from DCNS and no doubt by close links
between the Armada and other Daphne operators;
France, Pakistan, South Africa and Spain (note that
the Spanish Navy still has exchange postings/sea
riders with the Portuguese submarine force). Of
course, after 40 years of service they were obsolete
and expensive to sustain; that is to be expected of
any submarine design.
Despite being incumbents, the French were not
chosen to replace the Daphne; rather it was the
Germans. Were the Portuguese unhappy with the
French submarine or partnership? Captain Gouveia
offered a resounding “no”. He then gave explanation.
The decision on which submarine to replace the
Daphnes, either the Type 209PN or Scorpene, was
ultimately a political decision; the Armada knew
it would be and simply worked to make the two
tenderers’ packages on offer relatively even so that it
did not really matter which submarine was chosen [a
great strategy recommendation for our Navy].
As to the Type 209PN, it was contracted in 2004
and the first boat was delivered in 2010. Captain
Gouveia advised that the negotiations in the lead up
to contract were tough, but that this ultimately lead to
an on-time and on-budget submarine delivery. “If you
want someone who sticks to the contracted schedule,
you can’t walk past the Germans” he stated.
And the Navy is very happy with the outcome. The
Type 209PN has “taken the Portuguese submarine
force from a mechanical and manual submarine
force to an electronic and automatic one”. They
are very impressed with the AIP capability, which
they use almost continuously to reduce the cycling
of their submarine batteries, and their ‘Permasyn’
permanent magnet motor. Squadron Commander
Gouveia also spoke highly of the totally integrated
ISUS-90 Combat System.
The submarine force has participated in numerous
NATO bi and multi-lateral exercises and has deployed
to the United States to conduct Harpoon firings.
Each submarine has a single crew with sustainment
support provided by technicians ashore as necessary.
Their sustainment schema has been approached
differently to Australia’s; they have commenced their
program with local maintenance of their submarines
being carried out in Portugal while each boat’s first
major refit (conducted after eight years of service)
being carried out by TKMS in Kiel. However, the
Armada plans to repatriate major refits back to Lisbon
The total submarine force consists of 160
uniformed personnel. Captain Gouveia provided an
approximation of the annual submarine sustainment
costs, which included the amortised costs of refits.
This author almost fell off his chair when a EUR
$6M number was pronounced. The Captain almost
fell off his chair when this writer informed him that
Australia’s annual submarine sustainment budget for
this financial year is AUD $521M.
It was clear to APDR that, after normalising the fact
that the Type 209PN was a couple of generations
beyond the Daphne, Captain Gouveia was happy
with the Germans, as he had been with the French.
Next Month: Israel, India and Malaysia.
Rex Patrick is a full time advisor to the Independent
Senator Nick Xenophon. The views expressed in this
article are those of the author.
The Chilean submarine Simpson (SS-21) arrives at Naval Station Mayport to take part in the Diesel Electric Submarine
Initiative (DESI) with the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker/ Released)
The submarine force has participated in numerous NATO bi and
multi-lateral exercises and has deployed to the United States to
conduct Harpoon firings.
29/01/2016 4:09 PM
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