BNS Constituicao (F42) is a fighting frigate of the modern Brazilian Navy, part of the seven-strong Niteroi-class built in England by Vosper Thornycroft (covering units F40, F41, F42 and F43) as well as in Brazil by Arsenal de Marinha of Rio de Janeiro (covering units F44, F45, U27). BNS Constituicao saw its keel laid down on March 13th, 1974 and the warship was launched on April 15th, 1976. The vessel was formally commissioned on March 31st, 1978 and remains in active service today (2018) with the Brazilian fleet.
Constituicao, marking her homeport as Rio de Janeiro, was completed as a general purpose type frigate allowing her to undertake various roles within the Brazilian Navy. When she joined the Brazilian inventory, she became the forth ship of the adopted class of foreign origin.
As completed, BNS Constituicao has a displacement of 3,200 tons under standard load and 3,800 tons under full load. Dimensions include an overall length of 424 feet, a beam of 44 feet and a draught of 18 feet. Her propulsion scheme if of the COmbined Diesel-Or-Gas (CODOG) arrangement which sees 2 x Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines generating 56,000 horsepower for dash actions and 4 x MTU marine diesels outputting 18,000 horsepower for general cruising actions. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reaches 30 knots. Range is out to 5,300 nautical miles when cruising at an economical 17 knots.
Onboard is a crew of about 215 personnel made up of sailors and officers. Stores allow for the vessel to remain at-sea for up to 45 days before requiring replenishment. The vessel supports up to one 1 x Westland Super Lynx Mk.21A or similar medium-lift navy helicopter. A helipad is provided for this operation as is a full-service hangar area.
The warship has a short forecastle compared to contemporary frigate designs with its turreted main gun seated in the "A" position. Behind this is a mortar launcher sat atop a raised section of hull superstructure. Aft of this is the all-important bridge section and, aft of this area, is the main mast containing various radar, sensors and communications installations. The bridge superstructure's sides are elegantly formed as part of the existing hull sides creating a slab-sided appearance. Chining is noted along the forward hull sides running to about midships. A secondary, enclosed pyramidal-style mast is set aft of the main mast and, aft of this structure, is the low-profile smoke funnel near midships - the funnel identified by its black cap and rearward-sloping shape. The helipad is set aft of the smoke funnel and leads to the quarterdeck at the stern. The quarterdeck is home to a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher installation.
The ship's armament suite consists of a single 114mm (4.5") Vickers Mk 8 series turreted main deck gun at the "A" position backed by a 375mm Bofors twin-tubed mortar unit immediately aft as an anti-submarine measure. 2 x Twin launchers are used for the French-made MM.40 Exocet anti-ship missile. 2 x Albatros octuple launchers manage a SAM functionality. 2 x 40mm BAe Systems Bofors "Sea Trinity" Mk.3 single-gunned turrets are used for Anti-Aircraft (AA) purposes. 2 x 324mm triple-torpedo-tubes support the Mk.46 torpedo weapon. Beyond this are 2 x Plessey Shield chaff launchers and 4 x IPQM/Elebra MDLS octuple launcher units.
The warship is equipped with the AESN RAN 20S(3L) air/surface-search radar, the Terma Scanter MIP for surface-search and the Furuno FR-1942 Mk 2 for navigation. 2 x AESN RTN 30X units head the fire control suite. The EDO 997F is the hull-mounted sonar fit. The Racal Cutlass B-1B series suite forms the Electronic Warfare (EW) installation. A complete Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) suite is also carried.
Constituicao joined her sisters in being modernized during an oft-delayed program running from 1996 to 2005. During June of 2009, the vessel was called to assist in recovery efforts for the missing Air France Flight 447. In February of 2010, she assisted in transporting rescued students and crew of the tall ship SV Concordia.