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Portuguese Navy NRP Setúbal Viana do Castelo class offshore patrol vessel participate to Search and Rescue exercise

According to a Tweet released by the Portuguese Navy on August 20, 2020, NRP Setúbal P363, a Viana do Castelo class offshore patrol vessel from the Portuguese navy participate at the Search and Rescue maritime exercise SAREX with EH-101 helicopter from the Portuguese Air Force near the island of Porto Santo.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 NRP Setúbal P363, a Viana do Castelo class offshore patrol vessel from the Portuguese navy. (Picture source Portuguese Navy)

The NRP Setúbal P363 is a new Viana do Castelo class offshore patrol vessel which was commissioned in February 2019. Portuguese Navy has ordered 10 vessels of this class and four are already in service.

The NRP Setúbal P363 is used for maritime patrol and surveillance, fisheries protection, search-and-rescue (SAR), drug trafficking, illegal immigration, arms trafficking, disaster relief, and environmental protection missions.

The Viana do Castelo class is a class of offshore patrol vessels planned by and for the Portuguese Navy, as a result of the NPO2000 Project (Portuguese, Navios de Patrulha Oceânica, for Oceanic Patrol Vessels), that are being constructed in the Estaleiros Navais de Viana do Castelo.

The NRP Setúbal has a length of 83 m, a beam of 12.9 m, and a draft of 3.8 m. The full-load displacement is 1,850 t. It can accommodate a total of 42 sailors. She is powered by diesel-electric propulsion, integrating two Wartsila diesel engines and two electric motors that drive two five-bladed, variable-pitch propellers. Each diesel engine develops a power output of 3,900 kW, while each motor develops a maximum power of 200 kW. It can sail at a maximum speed of 20 kt and a range of 5,000 nmi.

The NRP Setúbal is armed with one 30 mm Oto Melara Marlin gun and two 7.62 mm light machine gun. It has also two launching systems for laying MK55 Mod 2 mines. It has a flight deck at the stern of the hull to support the operation of one helicopter.

The Portuguese Air Force has purchased 12 Merlins EH-101 under a €446 million contract, the first of which was delivered on 22 December 2004. The type has been used to conduct transport, search and rescue, and maritime surveillance missions, progressively replacing the Aérospatiale Puma previously tasked with these missions.

The main roles of Portuguese EH-101 helicopters are to perform search and rescue missions within Portugal's maritime zone. They are operated by 751 Squadron and are kept on constant alert at three bases: Montijo near Lisbon, Lajes Field on the Azores, and Porto Santo Island.