1999: The Launch of a Tall Ship for the Brazilian Navy

August 4, 1999

In the Netherlands, a vessel built to serve as a training ship for the Brazilian Navy was christened and launched. Cisne Branco, which means “White Swan” in Brazil’s official language of Portuguese, is a full-rigged tall ship (a large sailing vessel) that was constructed by the Dutch company Damen Shipyards Group.

This ship — measuring 246 feet and four inches (76 meters) in length — is the Brazilian Navy’s third sail-training vessel to bear that name. The current version of Cisne Branco can more specifically be described as a clipper ship, a type of sailing vessel that was introduced in the mid-19th century and is designed for speed.

This version of Cisne Branco was delivered to the Brazilian Navy on February 4, 2000, and commissioned as a vessel in that military branch just a little over a month later. She was the Brazilian Navy’s first sail-training ship since 1962.  

In one of her earliest public appearances, Cisne Branco led a parade of tall ships off the coast of Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan in May 2000. The travel writers Robert and Patricia Foulke, a married couple from Minnesota, witnessed this maritime procession and wrote about it in an article published later that year in Sea History magazine. In their article, the called Cisne Branco “a shining example” and “a vessel that can truly claim the name of’ ’clipper.’”

The Foulkes also highlighted both the traditional and more modern features of Cisne Branco. They stated, “A sharp, elegant hull, clean upper deck, a main skysail and stun’sail yards borrow from the past, while new techniques and materials, such as high-tech alloys in some masts, yards, and bowsprit, make the rig more manageable and hold down the weight aloft, thereby increasing stability.”

In the time since then, Cisne Branco has been extensively used as an instructional sailing ship for cadets at the Brazilian Naval School (located on Villegagnon Island in Rio de Janeiro) and other maritime institutions. This vessel also continues to participate in international activities similar to that flotilla in the waters off Puerto Rico. A key example of this took place in 2010, when Cisne Branco was part of the fleet of tall ships touring Latin America in an event widely known as Regata del Bicentario (Spanish for “Bicentennial Regatta”). This sailing event was organized to celebrate the bicentennial of the first national governments of Argentina and Chile.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the present-day Brazilian Navy ship named Cisne Branco, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisne_Branco

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