The Portuguese Navy is one of the oldest in the world. Naval Aviation in Portugal started in cooperation with France
, which began training its aircrews in 1916 prior to the formation of the Serviço e Escola de Aviação da Armada in Sep 1917 and based French aircraft at the Bom Sucesso base near Lisbon in 1918. In Aug 1918, the USA was granted base facilities at Horta on Faial in the Azores. A third base was established on Macau (China) in 1927, followed by Ponta Delgada on São Miguel in the Azores.
Neutral during WWII, the service grew through a modernising acquisition programme and by impounding aircraft from both sides that landed in its terrritory. After WWII, it became especially proficient in anti-submarine warfare. This was the last Naval aviation unit raised before 1952 when it was merged with army aviation, to form the Portuguese Air Force
. Whilst it lost its independent identity, naval aviation continued its presence as the Forças Aeronavais within the FAP.
By the early 1990s, it was clear that a change to maritime patrol, ASW and ASV arrangements were needed. After a selection between the Seasprite
and Lynx, an initial order for 5 Super Lynx was placed in 1989 and on delivery in mid 1993, the Esquadrilha de Helicópteros da Marinha was formed as part of a revitalised Aviação Naval under control of the Marinha Portuguesa (Navy). The Lynx are deployed to the three 'MEKO 200' Frigates of the Vasco da Gama Class launched in the early 1990s, NRP Vasco da Gama (F330), NRP Alvares Cabral (F331) and NRP Corte Real (F332), each of which can support up to 2 Super Lynx.