The Portuguese Navy celebrated this week it´s 700th anniversary. It is one of the oldest continuously serving navies in the world. In history, they played a key role at the beginning and during the great voyages of the Age of Discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries. The developing of technical and scientific sailing techniques led Portugal to build advanced ships, including the Caravel, new and more sophisticated types of carracks for interoceanic travel and the oceanic Galleon. These capabilities led to great voyages and the discovering of the sea routes to lands in East and West Africa, South America and especially to the Indic and Pacific Ocean via South Africa. For most of the 16th century, the Portuguese Navy, then the world leader navy of shipbuilding and naval artillery dominated most of the Atlantic Ocean south of the Canary Islands, the Indian Ocean and the access to the western Pacific.
Today, the Portuguese Navy assumes a dual role capacity: Naval combat missions to assure Portugal’s sovereignty and international commitments, and coast guard operations in its territorial waters and areas of influence. The Portuguese Navy also participates in missions related with international commitments assumed by Portugal (mainly within NATO), as well as missions of civil interest.
One very interesting component of the Portuguese Navy are their Marines. They are known as Corpo de Fuzileiros, in English, Corps of Fusiliers. They are an elite light infantry force specialized in amphibious warfare, riverine warfare, coastal reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, raids, maritime interdiction and boarding operations. The Fuzileiros have their direct origin in the Regiment of the Navy of the Crown of Portugal (Terço da Armada da Coroa de Portugal), created in 1618. However, since 1585, specialized troops existed to provide artillery and riflemen in the Portuguese warships. The Regiment of the Navy was soon considered an elite unit. As the King of Portugal did not have a royal guard (only the ceremonial Royal Guard), this Regiment was also used in the role of bodyguard of the Monarchs.
In honor of the Portuguese Navy 700th anniversary and their Fuzileiros, we share with you a video of a night exercise executed by this Elite Amphibious Unit, the Fuzileiros.