The Navy of the Argentine Republic or Argentine Navy (Spanish: Armada de la República Argentina — ARA, also Armada Argentina) 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. Each ship of the Argentine Navy is designated with the prefix "ARA" before its name.
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 navy was first created to support Manuel Belgrano in the Paraguay campaign, but it was sunk by ships from Montevideo, and did not take part in that conflict. Renewed conflicts with Montevideo led to the creation of a second fleet, which participated in the capture of the city. As Buenos Aires had little maritime history, most men in the navy were from other nations, such as the Irish-born admiral William Brown, who directed the operation. As the cost of maintaining a navy was too high, most of the Argentine naval forces were composed of privateers.
In the 1870s the Argentine Navy began modernizing itself. At the close of the century, the force included:
The most powerful ships at this time included the Italian-built Garibaldi and her sister ships: General Belgrano, Pueyrredón, and San Martín, each at over 6,000 tons. Three older ironclads, Almirante Brown, Independencia, and Libertad dated from the 1880s and early 1890s.
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.
Argentina remained neutral in both world wars. 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 programme costing $60 million had produced a force of 14,500 sailors and over a thousand officers. The fleet 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 defence ships, and gunboats. A naval air force was also in operation.
In the postwar period, Naval Aviation and Marine Corps units were put under direct Navy command. With Brazil, Argentina is one of two South American countries to have operated two aircraft carriers: the ARA Independencia and ARA Veinticinco de Mayo.
The Argentine Navy has been traditionally heavily involved in fishery inspection helping the Coast Guard: most notably in 1966 a destroyer fired on and holed a Soviet trawler that had refused to be escorted to Mar del Plata, in the 1970s there were four more incidents with Soviet and Bulgarian ships and continued in recent years.
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 of 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 for torture. Among their more well-known victims were the Swedish teenager 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 to turn into a memorial museum). During this regime, the Navy was also the main supporter of a military solution for the country's two longest standing disputes: the Beagle Conflict with Chile and the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) with the United Kingdom.
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 submarine). This fleet was supported by several ELMA tankers and transports as well as two ice breakers/polar ships.
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 principally the initial amphibious assaults on 2 and 3 April, with naval aviation Exocet armed Super Étendards sinking Sheffield and the Atlantic Conveyor, its Skyhawks sinking HMS Ardent (F184); and the Marines, with the 5th Marine Corps Battalion defending Mount Tumbledown. In addition, the Type 42 destroyer ARA Santisima Trinidad operating off Staten Island played an important part in the destruction of the British landing ship Sir Galahad on 8 June, and a landbased Exocet battery outside Port Stanley scored a direct hit on HMS Glamorgan on 11 June, and a Marine Tigercat SAM put out of action a Royal Air Force Harrier (XW 919) on 12 June. Naval aviation also carried out intensive maritime patrols searching to locate the British Fleet for the strike aircraft and British submarines for the anti-submarine Sea King helicopters, while their Lockheed L-188 Electra and Fokker F-28 Fellowship transports reinforced the Port Stanley garrison and evacuated the wounded.
The ARA San Luis submarine also played a strategic role, nearly sinking the frigate HMS Arrow on 10 May, 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.
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 programme 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 ARA Bahía San Blas. This situation was to be improved during 2006 with the delivery made by France of the first of the LPD Ouragan-class landing platform docks but the whole operation was placed in stand by the Argentine Government due to asbestos concerns. In 2010 France offered the Foudre (L9011) instead.
In 1988 the A-4 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 to 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 variant currently in service.
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 Étendard jets and S-2 Trackers that routinely operate from the 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.
Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1991 Gulf War sending a destroyer and a corvette in a first deployment and a supply ship and another corvette later to participate in the United Nations blockade and sea control effort in the gulf. The success of Operación Alfil ("English: Operation Bishop") as it was known, with more than 700 interceptions and 25,000 miles sailed in 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. In 1994, the three Drummond-class corvettes participated in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.
In 2003, for the first time, the Argentine Navy (classified as major non-NATO ally) inter-operated with a United States Navy battle group when the destroyer ARA Sarandí (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.
In 2010 the construction of four 1,800 ton offshore patrol ships was announced, but no keel has ever been laid down. Also in May 2010, Defence 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 P-3 Orion aircraft. In addition, the financing of the local development and construction of a coastal naval defence system that may also be based on the use of Exocet missiles similar to the Excalibur system.[clarification needed]
In October 2012 the Navy's sail training ship ARA Libertad was seized under court order in Ghana by creditors of Argentina's debt default in 2002. On 15 December 2012 the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled unanimously that the ship had immunity as a military vessel, and ordered that "Ghana should forthwith and unconditionally release the frigate ARA Libertad" Four days later Libertad was released from Tema and arrived to the port of Mar del Plata on 9 January 2013.
The Argentine Navy is under-funded and struggling to meet maintenance and training requirements; as a result only 15 of its total of 42 vessels are in a condition to sail. The 2013 defence budget allowed for the 15 operational vessels to each spend less than 11 days at sea, while the submarines averaged just over 6 hours submerged in the whole of 2012. ARA Espora spent 73 days in late 2012 stranded in South Africa for lack of spares. The Almirante Brown-class destroyers are short of spares and their ordnance has expired, while the Antarctic patrol ship ARA Almirante Irizar has been under repair since a fire in 2007. On 23 January 2013 the Type 42 destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad sank at her moorings having been mothballed for ten years.
The Argentine Navy participates in joint exercises with other friendly navies like Brazil, United States, Spain, France, Canada, South Africa, Italy, Uruguay, and since the 1990s, Chile. They are also routinely held in order to develop a common operational doctrine. Every year in conjunction with the Chilean Navy, the Argentine Navy participate 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.
The Argentine navy has four main commands: High Seas Fleet, Submarine Force, Naval Aviation, and Naval Infantry (Marines).
Puerto Belgrano Naval Base (Spanish: Base Naval Puerto Belgrano, abbreviated BNPB) is the largest naval base of the Argentine Navy, situated next to Punta Alta, near Bahía Blanca, about 700 km (435 mi) south of Buenos Aires. Most of the fleet is based there.
The Submarine Force Command (Spanish: Comando de la Fuerza de Submarinos, abbreviated COFS) was created when the Navy first started using submarines in 1927. As of 2013 the force is based at Mar del Plata. The Tactical Divers Group is also under the submarine force command structure.
The Naval Aviation Command (Spanish: Comando de Aviación Naval, abbreviated COAN) is the naval aviation branch. Argentina is one of two South American countries to have operated two aircraft carriers. Naval Aviation used the Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard fighter in Falklands War, which is currently out of service.
The Naval Infantry Command (Spanish: Comando de Infantería de Marina, abbreviated COIM) is the marines branch; naval Infantry have the same rank insignia and titles as the rest of the Navy and they are currently deployed abroad on UN mandates.
Rank insignia consists of a variable number of gold-braid stripes worn on the sleeve cuffs or on shoulderboards. Officers may be distinguished by the characteristic loop of the top stripe (in the manner of British Royal Navy officers). Combat uniforms may include metal pin-on or embroidered collar rank insignia. Rank insignia is worn on the chest when in shipboard or flying coveralls.
Officers are commissioned in either the Command (line) Corps (those who attend the Escuela Naval Militar- Naval College) or the Staff Corps (Professional Officers who only attend a short course in the Naval Academy after getting a civilian degree, except for the Paymasters who indeed attend the Naval College).
The Line Corps is divided into three branches: the Naval branch (including Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare and Naval Aviation sub-branches), the Marine Corps branch, and Executive -Engineering- branch. Line Corps' reserve officers are considered Restricted Line ( Escalafon Complementario ) officers in any of the Warfare Communities (Surface, Submarine, Marines, Aviation and Propulsion), and can only raise to OF-4 rank ( Capitan de Fragata ).
All Line Corps officers were distinctive branch/sub-branch insignia on the right breast. Some Staff Corps officers also wear specialisation badges (Aviation, Surface, Submarine and Marines). Other common insignia is the Naval War College insignia, parachute wings, etc., also worn on the right breast. Medals and Ribbons, if awarded, are worn on the left breast, just above the chest pocket. The rank insignia of Staff Corps' officers is placed over a background colour denoting the wearer's field, such as purple (Chaplains), blue (Engineers), red (Health Corps), white (Paymasters), green (Judge Advocate Officers), brown (Technical Officers, promoted from the ranks) and grey (special branch). The background colour for Command Corps officers is navy blue/black.
|Insignia||Argentine Rank (in Spanish)||Argentine Rank (in English)||Equivalent Royal Navy Rank||Equivalent US Navy Rank||NATO Rank Code|
|Vicealmirante||Vice Admiral||Vice Admiral||Vice Admiral||OF-8|
|Contraalmirante||Counter Admiral||Rear Admiral||Rear Admiral (Upper Half)||OF-7|
|Comodoro de Marina||Commodore of the Navy||Commodore||Rear Admiral (Lower Half)||OF-6|
|Capitán de Navío||Ship-of-the-Line Captain||Captain||Captain||OF-5|
|Capitán de Fragata||Frigate Captain||Commander||Commander||OF-4|
|Capitán de Corbeta||Corvette Captain||Lieutenant-Commander||Lieutenant Commander||OF-3|
|Teniente de Navío||Ship-of-the-Line Lieutenant||Lieutenant||Lieutenant||OF-2|
|Teniente de Fragata||Frigate Lieutenant||Sub-Lieutenant||Lieutenant (Junior Grade)||OF-1|
|Teniente de Corbeta||Corvette Lieutenant||Acting Sub-Lieutenant||Ensign||OF-1|
Following a global trend, Argentine armed forces have prohibited beards since the 1920s. This was reinforced in the Cold War era when they were deemed synonymous with leftist leanings. The only exception were Antarctic service within the three armed forces as a protection from cold weather, and submarine service within the Navy as a way of saving water. However, shaving was mandatory upon return to headquarters.
In 2000 the Navy broke with this tradition within the Argentine armed forces as Adm. Joaquín Stella, then Navy Chief of Staff allowed beards for officers with ranks above Teniente de Corbeta (Ensign), according to Section 220.127.116.11 of the Navy Uniform regulations (R.A-1-001). Adm. Stella gave the example himself by becoming the first bearded Argentine admiral since Adm. Sáenz Valiente in the 1920s. Non commissioned officers can wear beards from Suboficial Segundo rank, and upwards.
Protocol still requires officers to appear clean-shaved on duty, thus forcing those who choose to sport beards to grow them while on leave. Both full beards and goatees are allowed, as long as they proffer a professional, non-eccentric image. Nowadays, bearded Argentine naval officers and senior NCO's are a relatively common sight.
Other ranks' insignia (not including Seamen) is worn on either shoulderboards or breast or sleeve patches. Seamen and Seamen Recruits wear their insignia on their sleeves. The shoulderboards denote the wearer's specialty.
|Insignia||Argentine Rank (in Spanish)||Argentine Rank (in English)||Equivalent RN Rank (approximate)||Equivalent USN Rank (approximate)|
|Suboficial Mayor||Sub-Officer Major||Warrant Officer 1||Master Chief Petty Officer,
Command Master Chief Petty Officer
|Suboficial Principal||Principal Sub-Officer||Warrant Officer 2||Senior Chief Petty Officer|
|Suboficial Primero||Sub-Officer First Class||Chief Petty Officer||Chief Petty Officer|
|Suboficial Segundo||Sub-Officer Second Class||Petty Officer||Petty Officer 1st Class|
|Cabo Principal||Principal Corporal||Leading Seaman/Rate/Hand||Petty Officer 2nd Class|
|Cabo Primero||Corporal First Class||Able Seaman 1st Class||Petty Officer 3rd Class|
|Cabo Segundo||Corporal Second Class||Able Seaman 2nd Class||Seaman|
|Marinero Primero||Seaman||Ordinary Seaman||Seaman Apprentice|
|Marinero Segundo||Seaman Recruit||(No equivalent)||Seaman Recruit|
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