Argentine Navy

Argentine Navy
Argentine Navy
Armada de la República Argentina
Escudo armada argentina.cdr.svg
Shield, the red Phrygian cap symbolizing pursuit of liberty
Country Argentina
Type Navy
Size 42 ships
Engagements Argentine War of Independence
Argentina-Brazil War
War of the Triple Alliance
Falklands War
Admiral Jorge Godoy
Admiral Guillermo Brown
Argentine Navy Jack (Ratio 50:57)

The Navy of the Argentine Republic or Armada of the Argentine Republic (Spanish: Armada de la República Argentina — ARA) is the navy of Argentina. It is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the Army and the Air Force.

The Argentine Navy day is celebrated on May 17, anniversary of the victory achieved in 1814 in the Battle of Montevideo over the Spanish fleet during the war of Independence.[1]

Each ship of the Argentine Navy is designated with the prefix ARA before its name.



19th Century

Admiral William Brown.

The Argentine Navy was created in the aftermath of the May Revolution of May 25, 1810, which started the war for independence from Spain. The first navy was created to support Manuel Belgrano at the Paraguay campaign, but it was sunk by ships from Montevideo, and did not took part in that conflict. Renewed conflicts with Montevideo led to the creation of a second one, which captured the city. As Buenos Aires had little maritime history, most men in the navy were from other nations, such as the Irish admiral William Brown, who directed the operation.

As the cost of mantaining a navy was too high, most of the Argentine naval forces were composed of privateers. Brown led the Argentine navy in further naval conflicts at the War with Brazil and the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata.

In the late 1800s, the Argentine Navy began modernizing itself. At the close of the century, the force included:

The most powerful ships (counted in the list above) included the Italian-built Garibaldi and her sister ships, the General Belgrano, Pueyrredón, and the San Martín, each at over 6,000 tons. Three older ships, the Almirante Brown, Independencia, and the Libertad dated from the 1880s and early 1890s.[3]

The navy's ships were built primarily in Italy, Britain, France, and Spain and were operated by over 600 officers and 7760 seamen. These were supported by a battalion of marines and an artillery battery.[4]

20th Century

Rivadavia class battleship under construction in the US for the Argentine Navy. Photo taken in 1912. Two ships of this class entered service in 1914–1915 and served until 1956.

Although Argentina remained neutral in both world wars, the country's navy was a force to be reckoned with. In 1940, Argentina's navy was ranked the eighth most powerful in the world (after the European powers, Japan, and the United States) and the largest in Latin America. A ten-year building program costing $60 million had produced a force of 14,500 sailors and over a thousand officers. The fleet in 1940 included two First World War-era (but modernized) American-built Rivadavia class battleships, three modern cruisers, a dozen British-built destroyers, and three submarines in addition to minelayers, minesweepers, coastal defense ships, and gunboats. A naval air force was also in operation.[5]

In the postwar period, Naval Aviation and Marine Corps units were put under direct Navy's command. With Brazil, Argentina is one of but two South American countries to have operated two aircraft carriers effectively: the ARA Independencia and ARA Veinticinco de Mayo.

The Argentine Navy have been traditionally greatly involved in fishery inspection helping the Coast Guard : most notably in 1966 a destroyer fired and holed a Russian trawler which had refused to be escorted to Mar del Plata, in the 1970s there were four more incidents with Soviet and Bulgarian ships [6] and continued in recent years.[7][8][9]

The Navy also took part in all military coups through the 20th century. During the last dictatorship, Navy personnel were involved in the Dirty War in the late 1970s in which thousands of people were kidnapped, tortured and killed by the forces of the Military Junta. The Naval Mechanics School, known as ESMA, was a notorious centre used for torture. Amongst their more well-known victims were the Swedish teenage Dagmar Hagelin and French nuns, Alice Domon and Léonie Duquet (In October 2007 the Argentine navy formally handed possession of the School to human rights groups which will now be turned into a memorial museum). During this regimen, the Navy was also the main supporter of a military solution for the country's two long standing disputes: The Beagle Conflict with Chile and the Falklands Islands ( Spanish: Islas Malvinas ) with the United Kingdom.

Falklands War

During the 1982 Falklands conflict termed by the Argentines Guerra de las Malvinas / Guerra del Atlántico Sur the Main Argentine Naval Fleet consisted of modernised World War II era ships (one GUPPY-type submarine, one British-built Colossus-class carrier, a cruiser, and four destroyers ) supported with new ones (2 Type 42 class destroyers, 3 French built corvettes and one German built Type 209 submarines). This fleet was supported by several ELMA tankers and transports as well as two ice breakers/polar ships.

Super Étendard, the Exocet platform.

The new German design MEKO class destroyers, corvettes and Thyssen-Nordseewerke (Type TR-1700) submarines were still under construction.

Despite leading the invasion of the Falkland Islands, in both strategic and tactical aspects the Argentine fleet played only a small part in the subsequent conflict with the Royal Navy. After HMS Conqueror sank the ARA General Belgrano, the Argentine surface fleet did not venture from a 12-mile (22.2-km) coastal limit imposed by the British due to the threat posed by the Royal Navy fleet of nuclear powered submarines (SSNs).

The Argentine Navy's contributions to the war were, among the initial amphibious assaults, with naval aviation its Exocet armed Super Étendards sinking HMS Sheffield and the Atlantic Conveyor, its A-4Q Skyhawks sinking HMS Ardent (F184); and the Marines, with the 5th Marine Corps Battalion role at Mount Tumbledown. In addition, a landbased Exocet battery outside Port Stanley scored a direct hit on HMS Glamorgan. Naval aviation also carried out intensive maritime patrols searching to locate the British Fleet for the strike aircraft [10] whilst their transports provided logistical support.

The ARA San Luis submarine also played a strategic role, and was a real concern to the British, although she scored no hits. The submarine ARA Santa Fe, after a successful resupply mission, was attacked and disabled off South Georgia, where her crew then surrendered along with the Argentine detachment at Grytviken. She was later scuttled by the British.


Almirante Brown Meko 360 class destroyer.

The core of the fleet was reformed with the retirement of all the World War II era Fletcher and Gearing class destroyers and their replacement with the MEKO 360 and 140 classes designed by the German shipyard Blohm + Voss.

Also, the submarine force greatly reinforced their assets with the introduction of the Thyssen Nordseewerke (TR-1700) class. Although the original program called for six units with the last four to be built in Argentina, only the two built in Germany were delivered.

The amphibious force was drastically affected with the retirement of their only LST landing ship ARA Cabo San Antonio and replacement by a modified cargo vessel, the San Blas. This situation was to be improved during 2006 with the delivery made by France of the first of the LPD Ouragans but the whole operation was placed in stand by the Argentine Government due to asbestos concerns. On 2010 France offered the Foudre (L 9011) instead.[11]

ARA San Juan TR1700 submarine class.

France also transferred the Durance, now B-1 ARA Patagonia, multi-product replenishment ship (AOR) enhancing the capabilities of the fleet.

In 1988 the A-4Q Skyhawks were withdrawn leaving the Super Étendard as the only fighter jets in the navy inventory. The already paid for A-4Hs bought in Israel as their replacement could not be delivered due the embargo imposed by the United States after the war. Instead IAI used the money to refurbish the S-2E Trackers to the S-2T Turbo Tracker current variant.

In the 1990s, the embargo was lifted and the Lockheed L-188 Electras (civilian aircraft converted for maritime patrol) were finally retired and replaced with similar P-3B Orions and civilian Beechcraft King Air Model 200 were locally converted to the MP variant.

In 2000 the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo was decommissioned without replacement, although the navy maintains the air group of Super Étendards jets and S-2 Tracker that routinely operates from Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier São Paulo ARAEX video or United States Navy carriers when they are in transit in the south Atlantic during Gringo-Gaucho manoeuvers.

Present day

A US guided missile frigate and an Argentine maritime patrol aircraft during joint operations in Panama

Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1991 Gulf War sending a destroyer and a corvette in first term and a supply ship and another corvette later to participate on the United Nations blockade and sea control effort of the gulf. The success of Operación Alfil ("English: Operation Bishop") as it was known, with more than 700 interceptions and 25,000 miles sailed on the operations theatre helped to overcome the so-called "Malvinas syndrome".

From 1990 to 1992, the Baradero class patrol boats were deployed under UN mandate ONUCA to the Gulf of Fonseca in Central America.[12] In 1994, the three Drummond class corvettes participated on Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.[13]

Also, in 2003, as the first time, the Argentine Navy (classified as major non-NATO ally) interoperated with an United States Navy battlegroup when destroyer ARA Sarandi (D-13) joined the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and Destroyer Squadron 18 as a part of Exercise Solid Step during their tour in the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, the Argentine Navy participates in joint exercises with other friendly navies like Brazil, United States, Spain, France, Canada, South Africa,[14] Italy, Uruguay, and since the 1990s, Chile. Examples of such annual maneuvers are UNITAS, ARAEX, TEMPEREX, FRATERNO, ATLASUR, PAMPAREX [15] and when possible Gringo-Gaucho. Joint NCAGS exercises, such as TRANSOCEANIC, TRANSAMERICA and COAMAS are also routinely held, in order to develop a common operational doctrine. The NCAGS Organisation is headed by the Naval Shipping Command (Comando Naval de Transito Marítimo), acting as Local Operational Control Command ("COLCO in Spanish) with two subordinate Operational Control Authorities (OCA's) and several Naval Control of Shipping Officers (NCSO's) bureaus along the Coastline, both Navy and Coast Guard manned.

Every year in conjunction with the Chilean Navy they join in the Patrulla Antártica Naval Combinada (English: Joint Antarctic Naval Patrol) to guarantee safety to all touristic and scientific ships that are in transit within the Antarctic Peninsula where the Navy is also directly responsible of maintaining the Argentine bases there.

In 2010 the construction start of four 1.800 ton offshore patrol ships was announced.[16]

In May 2010, Defense Minister Nilda Garre announced that the Navy would continue working on a system that would enable the launch of Exocet missiles from the Navy’s P3 Orion aircraft. In addition, the financing of the local development and construction of a coastal Naval defense system that may also be based on the use of Exocet missiles similar to the Excalibur system.

Current fleet

The Argentine Navy operates 42 ships. The four Destroyers and three SSKs represent the Argentine Navy's central combat force while its 9 Corvettes operate in the defence of coasts, naval bases and territorial waters.

Troop Transport and Command (2)

ARA Hércules

Major combat vessels Destroyers (Frigates)(4)

ARA La Argentina

Submarine SSK (3)

ARA San Juan
  • SSK
    • TR-1700 Class (2)
      • ARA Santa Cruz (S-41)
      • ARA San Juan (S-42)
  • SSK

Minor combat vessels Corvettes (9)

ARA Gomez Roca
ARA Guerrico

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