During the Cold War period (1947-1991), the Portuguese Navy invested in a new, all-modern class of fighting corvette known as the "Joao Coutinho-class". These warships no longer serve under the flag, given up at various points in their careers, and have left the nation with a modest naval fighting force by modern and regional standards. The class was originally designed and constructed for the Portuguese Navy to patrol the various Portuguese colonial territories around Africa and six warships were built to the standard (F471, F475, F476, F477, F484, and F485). With the exception of lead ship NRP Antonio Enes (F471), all were commissioned in 1970 with Enes following in 1971. F475, F476, and F471 were decommissioned in 2015, 2018, and 2019, respectively, while F477 was sunk as an artificial reef and F484 and F485 were decommissioned and unceremoniously scrapped.
By definition, modern corvettes have been relatively compact surface fighting elements utilized by various navies of the world. Typically the smallest of the rated ship types available, these vessels have a "multi-mission" mindset and are outfitted with a mix of armament options and given useful performance capabilities to operate "close-to-shore" or in Blue Water - operating independently or as part of the main fighting force.
The Coutinho-class was developed with these qualities in mind. Dimensions included a running length of 265.7 feet,a beam of 33.79 feet, and a compact draught down to 10.8 feet. Power was from 2 x OEW Pielstick marine diesels developing 10,560 horsepower to 2 x Shafts astern. The warship could range out to 5,000 nautical miles at 18 knots and reach speeds up to 24 knots under ideal conditions. Displacement reached 1,255 tons under standard load and up to 1,400 when fully laden.
Aboard was a typical crew complement of 93. Installed systems included the Western Electric SPG-34 fire control radar and Kelvin Hughes navigation system. Sonar was also part of the class' makeup. Armament was modest, involving a single 3" /50 caliber Mk.33 turreted twin-gunned mounting over the forecastle, a single 40mm /L70 Bofors twin-gunned Anti-Aircraft (AA) mounting, and "Hedgehog" Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) mortar joined by depth charge racks. The ASW weapons were both remove din 1987.
With Portugal's involvement in its own colonial troubles (1961-1974), construction of the class was given up to foreign allied shipyards resulting in the first three of the series completed by West Germany's Blohm und Voss and the remaining three by Empresa Nacional Bazan of Spain. The warships were pressed into wartime service during the tumultuous period, conducting armed patrols and general fire support as needed along Africa's western and southern coasts. Despite military victories, the resulting actions ended Portuguese colonial occupation and the empire as a whole. With no overseas security role to be had, the Coutinho-class was typically operated in Portuguese territory in the later years until given up for good.
Status Decommissioned, Out-of-Service
Complement 93 Personnel
Ship Class [ Joao Coutinho-class ] Ships-in-Class [ 6 ]Ship Names:NRP Antonio Enes (F471)
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
265.7 ft (80.99 m)
Width / Beam:
33.79 ft (10.30 m)
Height / Draught:
10.8 ft (3.29 m)
2 x OEW Pielstick diesel engines developing 10,560 horsepower driving 2 x Shafts astern.
24 kts (28 mph)
5,001 nm (5,755 miles; 9,262 km)
1 x 3" /50 caliber Mk.33 turreted deck gun in twin-gunned mounting.
1 x 40mm /L70 Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) gun turret in twin-gunned mounting.
"Hedgehog" Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) mortar (deleted 1987).
Depth Charge racks (deleted 1987).
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