Portuguese Navy escorts two Russian warships through its EEZ

According to information published by the Portuguese MoD on August 23, 2022, means of the Portuguese Armed Forces, belonging to the National System of Forces, will be committed, for the next two days, to accompany two Russian Navy warships, during their passage through the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Viana do Castelo class Offshore Patrol Boat NRP Sines (Picture source: Portuguese Navy)

The Russian force is made up of two warships, which will transit from north to south, coming from Biscay towards the Mediterranean. The accompaniment of the Russian ships will be maintained while they are inside the Portuguese EEZ.

In October 2014, Hydrographic auxiliary Russian Navy ship Sibiryakov passed the Strait of Gibraltar and was trailed by Portuguese Navy corvette Joao Coutinho-class corvette Jacinto Candido from the time Sibiryakov entered the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone until she left EEZ waters, heading north.

About the class of corvettes

The João Coutinho-class corvettes were a series of warships built for the Portuguese Navy for service in Portugal's African and Indian colonies. Initially rated as frigates, they were downgraded first to corvettes and then patrol vessels with age.

They were designed in Portugal by naval engineer Rogério de Oliveira, but the urgent need of their services in the Portuguese Colonial War meant that the construction of the ships was assigned to foreign shipyards.

Six ships were built; the first three ships were built by Blohm & Voss and the remaining three by Empresa Nacional Bazán. The ships were launched in 1970 and 1971.

The relative cheap cost of the design led to it being the basis of several other classes in other navies. From 1970 until the end of the conflict in 1975, the corvettes were used for patrol and fire-support missions in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, and Cape Verde. After the African colonies gained their independence, the corvettes were assigned to patrol duties in Portuguese territorial waters.