Pero Escobar (F335) was a Portuguese frigate built in Italy under MDAP order, she was named after the homonymous navigator. Her hull and machinery were based on the "Destroyer Light Vessel", a small (1300 tons) destroyer design exported to Venezuela (1953) and later Indonesia (1955), but her armament was specifically tailored for ASW, unlike the design for the South American country that had a heavier ASuW emphasis and is generally considered to have excessive top-weight, conversely some Portuguese sources say that this ship was "underarmed", but I wonder what they were expecting on 1250 tons... The D.L.V. itself was similar to the flush-decked Centauro class frigates under construction for the Italian navy, but it was differentiated by more powerful steam machinery, a single funnel reminiscent of the 1930s Maestrale class and a somewhat larger bridge structure.
Pero Escobar was ordered as DE 1032, she was laid down on 7 January 1955 at Castellammare di Stabia, launched on 25 September 1955 and completed on 1 July 1957. She was armed with two single SMP-3 76 mm/62 guns, one fore and one aft, this was the same (problematic) semi-automatic gun mounted on the NATO Albatros corvettes; curiously many sources state that it was an OTO design, but this is incorrect, this was the last gun developed at the Stabilimenti Meccanici di Pozzuoli, SMP is an abbreviation for the company's name. AA armament was completed by one twin 40 mm/70 Bofors and two twin 20 mm/70 Oerlikons. ASW equipment was instead based on two triple Squid mortars, two depth charge rails and one bank of triple 533 mm torpedo tubes. There were AN/SQS-29 and Type 147F sonars, radar suite consisted of an MLA-1B air search radar and MLT-3A fire control radar. Propulsion was based on two Foster Wheeler boilers and two Navalmeccanica turbines propelling two shafts, total power was 24,500 shp for a maximum speed in excess of 32 knots, range at 16 knots was 2800 nautical miles.
In this picture from above you can clearly see, starting from aft, the depth charge rails, aft SMP-3 gun, Bofors on the deck house, torpedo tubes and Oerlikons on the platforms on both sides
In this other picture instead you can see the Squid mortars, just ahead of the bridge on both sides
The normal patrol and training career of Pero Escobar was interrupted by a couple of incidents related to the political situation in Portugal at the time, in 1961 she was involved in the hunt for the Santa Maria, a cruise liner hijacked by Spanish-Portuguese opposition forces. In the same year she was sent to Angola at the outbreak of the war of independence to transport troops under the pretext of a training cruise, but this intervention was aborted because of American pressure. The Portuguese sources don't mention anything of particular about the SMP-3 gun, the gun that caused an incidental explosion in the Dutch Albatros corvette, instead they had apparently troubles with the propulsion system, which required considerable maintenance. Still she was the fastest ship in the Portuguese navy at her time and because of her elegant lines she was informally called "Gina", in honour of the Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida. Interestingly the actress learnt of this nickname from the Italian console Emanuele Valle who happened to meet at Madeira some of Pero Escobar's officials and cadets returning from a training cruise to Porto Verde, in response she sent an autographed portrait with a message that read:
To the commander and officers of the NRP "Pero Escobar", with the sincere hope that your beautiful ship will always emerge victorious from any danger
Rome 1962 - Gina Lollobrigida
In the same 1962 she was completely immobilised because of damage to the propulsion system which remained unrepaired (more pressing issues with the African colonial wars deprived the navy of funds) until 1967, when she entered a long refit that lasted until 1971, during this time her armament was upgraded to the level of the recently completed Almirante class frigates, which were modified Dealey class destroyer escorts built in Portugal. The SMP-3 guns were exchanged for two twin 76 mm/50 Mark 33, the Bofors and Oerlikons were removed while the 533mm torpedo tubes were substituted by two triple 324 mm Mk 32 torpedo tubes. Fire control radar was now the SPG-34 set associated with the American guns, air search radar and sonars remained unchanged.
Pero Escobar after the refit
This refit and upgrade proved to be of little use, though. The end of the colonial wars and the democratisation of Portugal led to cuts in the armed forces, Pero Escobar went into reserve on 6 November 1975, she was stricken from the navy list on 1 September 1976 and scraped soon after.
A colour picture during the last years of service
Displacement: 1250 tons (standard), 1600 tons (full)
Lenght: 93.5 m (between perpendiculars), 98 m (overall)
Beam: 10.9 m
Draught: 3.1 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft Navalmeccanica geared steam turbines, 2 Foster Wheeler boilers, 24,500 shp
Speed: 32 knots
Range: 2800 nm at 13.5 knots
- Two 76 mm/62 SMP-3 (two 76 mm/50 Mk 33 after 1971)
- One twin 40 mm/70 Bofors (deleted after 1971)
- Two twin 20 mm /70 Oerlikons (deleted after 1971)
- One triple 533 mm torpedo tubes (two triple 324 mm Mk 32 after 1971)
- Two triple Squid ASW mortars
- Two depth charge rails
- MLA-1B air search radar
- MLT-3A fire control radar (SPG-34 after 1971)
- AN/SQS-29 sonar
- Type 147F sonar
Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1947-1995
Old article by Ricardo Matias taken from ForumDefesa.com
Tsushima.su for some pictures
Photoship.co.uk for some pictures
I'm unsure about the original fire control radar, only Conways mentions it. Also I think the Bofors and Oerlikons were removed because visually I can't identify them in the pictures, no source actually mentions it. Any correction and input is appreciated as always.
Edited by RedBear87, 03 June 2014 - 11:10 PM.