Military Wiki
Colombian Navy
Armada de la República de Colombia
Escudo Armada Nacional de Colombia.svg
Coat of Arms of the Colombian Navy
Active September 17, 1810 - Present
Country Colombia
Branch Navy
Role Protection of the seas and rivers of Colombia
Size 35,502 (As of 2015) [1]
~13,000 Officers & sailors
~22,000 Marine Infantry
Garrison/HQ Colombian Ministry of Defense
Motto(s) Plus Ultra (Latin language: further beyond)
March "Viva Colombia, soy marinero"
Anniversaries July 24
Engagements Battle of Lake Maracaibo
Thousand Days War (Civil war)
Colombia-Peru War
World War II
Korean War
Colombian Armed Conflict
Vadm. Hernando Wills Velez (2013) [2]
José Prudencio Padilla
Naval Ensign Naval Ensign of Colombia.svg
Naval Jack Naval Jack of Colombia.svg

The Colombian Navy (Spanish language: Armada Nacional de la República de Colombia ), also known as the "Armada Nacional" or just the "Armada" in Spanish, is the naval branch of the military forces of Colombia. The Navy is responsible for security and defence in the Colombian zones of both the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific oceans, the extensive network of rivers inside the country, and a few small land areas under its direct jurisdiction.
As of 2010, the Colombian Navy had 35,502 personnel including approximately 22,000 in the Marine Infantry corps.[1] [3]

"ARC", (Spanish language: Armada de la República de Colombia ) is used both as the official ship prefix for all the Colombian Navy ships, as well as the common acronym for the navy itself.


The Colombian Navy was born with Colombian independence from Spain. The president of the Supreme Board of Cartagena, José María García Toledo, created the Naval Command Office by means of a decree dated September 17, 1810. The navy was placed under the command of Captain Juan Nepomuceno Eslava, junior son of the (former) Spanish Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava.

On June 28, 1822, General Francisco de Paula Santander created the Naval School, which was later on decommissioned until 1907, when President Rafael Reyes Prieto created the Naval Academy, through decree 783 of July 6, 1907 only to be closed off yet again by his successor, Ramón González Valencia on December 28, 1909.

The conflict with Peru in 1932 made the Colombian Navy reappear, this time to stay. New ships were acquired and the "Escuela de Grumetes" (Navy Sailors School) was founded in 1934 and the "Escuela de Cadetes" (Navy Officers School) was founded in 1935. Nowadays both schools continue their work of instructing the Colombian men and women of the sea.

Engagements and Conflicts

World War II, the U-154 Incident

While initially declaring neutrality, but nevertheless being aligned towards the Allied cause, Colombia declared a state of war against Germany on November 23, 1943.[4] The Colombian navy was already active on combat patrols in the Caribbean, after multiple depredations by U-boats in the area towards US and UK ships entering or leaving the Panama Canal. On March 29, 1944 the tanker ARC Cabimas was en route from Cartagena to Panama City, escorted by the destroyer ARC Caldas under the command of Captain Federico Diago. Around 8:00 pm, the Caldas detected the periscope of a U-boat and proceeded to engage with cannon fire and depth mines. Later accounts identified this U-boat as the U-154. While badly shaken and perhaps damaged, the U-154 managed to escape, and was finally sunk four months later in another engagement with the USS Frost and the USS Inch. For his quick reaction in defence of the national seas, Captain Diago was later decorated by the Colombian government.[5]


The Navy is part of the executive branch of the Colombian Government, the President of Colombia being the commander-in-chief of all military forces,via the civilian Minister of Defense, and the General Commander of Military Forces (Spanish language: Comandante General Fuerzas Militares ), who is a senior officer appointed by the president from any of the 3 services (Army, Air Force or Navy). The most senior officer organic to the Navy is the Commander of the Navy (Spanish language: Comandante de la Armada Nacional ).

Forces and Commands

The Colombian Navy operates with 7 specialized forces or commands across the territory:

  • Marine Infantry Command: Land, amphibious and riverine operations across all territory.
  • Naval Force of the Pacific: Surface and submarine defense and patrol of the Colombian Pacific sea.
  • Naval Force of the Caribbean: Surface and submarine defense and patrol of the Colombian Caribbean sea.
  • Naval Force of the South: Riverine operations across the Southern and Southeastern areas of the country.
  • Coast Guard Command: Maritime security, control, monitoring and interdiction in both Caribbean and Pacific seas.
  • Navy Aviation Command: Naval air support, surveillance, transport and logistics and Search and Rescue.
  • Specific Command of San Andres y Providencia:Surface and submarine defense and patrol of the Colombian Caribbean sea around the San Andres Archipelago.

Naval educational institutions

Along with the 7 operational commands above, the Colombian Navy maintains 3 major training schools for its personnel:

  • Naval Academy: Escuela Naval de Cadetes "Almirante Padilla"
  • Navy NCO School: Escuela Naval de Suboficiales ARC Barranquilla
  • Marine Infantry Basic School: Escuela de Formación Infantería de Marina

The Navy also has 12 other post graduate schools aimed at sharpening and intensifying the needed capacities and personnel of the various naval services and the Marine Corps.

Operating Bases

Major naval bases of the Colombian Navy
     Exclusive Economic Zone
Colombian Navy (ARC) Navy Sleeve Insignia Icon.svg Navy: Naval, Riverine and Primary Operating bases
Colombian Navy (ARC) Marine Infantry Sleeve Insignia Icon.svg Marine Infantry: Primary base and training school

The ARC maintains a number of major bases in both Caribbean and Pacific littorals, as well as multiple operational riverine bases scattered over the territory.
The principal naval bases are:

some of the more important operational bases are:


As of 2015, the Colombian Navy fields approximately 35,000 personnel, including roughly 22,000 Marine Infantry, 8,000 sailors and NCOs, 2,500 Officers, 1,300 personnel in training and some 2,000 civilians (these usually deployed to specialty technical or medical posts).[1]

Ranks & Insignias

The tables below display the rank structures and rank insignias for the Colombian Navy personnel. [6] [7]

Ranks and Insignias - Colombian Navy


NATO code [n 1] OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
 Colombia No equivalent Almirante cuatro armada colombia.png Almirante armada colombia.svg Vicealmirante armada colombia.svg Contralmirante armada colombia.svg Capitan de navio armada colombia.svg Capitan de fragata armada colombia.svg Capitan de corbeta colombia armada.svg Teniente de navio colombia armada.svg Teniente de fragata armada colombia.svg Teniente de corbeta armada colombia.svg
(Spanish) - Almirante Almirante de Escuadra Vicealmirante Contralmirante Capitán de Navío Capitán de Fragata Capitán de Corbeta Teniente de Navío Teniente de Fragata Teniente de Corbeta
(English) - Admiral Squadron Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral,
Counter Admiral
Ship-of-the-line Captain Frigate Captain Corvette Captain Ship-of-the-line Lieutenant Frigate Lieutenant Corvette Lieutenant

Non-Commissioned Officers and Seamen

NATO code [n 1] OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Colombia Suboficial jefe tecnico armada colombia.svg Suboficial jefe tecnico armada colombia.svg Suboficial jefe tecnico armada colombia.svg Suboficial jefe armada colombia.svg Suboficial primero armada colombia.svg Suboficial segundo armada colombia.svg Suboficial tercero armada colombia.svg Marinero primero armada colombia.svg Marinero segundo armada colombia.svg No equivalent
(Spanish) Suboficial Jefe Técnico de Comando Conjunto Suboficial Jefe Técnico de Comando Suboficial Jefe Técnico Suboficial Jefe Suboficial Primero Suboficial Segundo Suboficial Tercero Marinero Primero Marinero Segundo -
(English) Joint Command Chief Technical Petty Officer Command Chief Technical Petty Officer Chief Technical Petty Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer First Class Petty Officer Second Class Petty Officer Third Class Seaman Seaman Recruit -



ARC Almirante Padilla (FM-51)

ARC Juan Ricardo Oyola Vera (NF-613) in Cartagena

In keeping with its 3 major operational scenarios: blue-water operations, littoral/riverine operations and coast guard, the ARC maintains a mix of ships suited to each of those profiles. The scope of its operation has been historically oriented towards lightly armed coastal patrol, and as such, the majority of its vessels had been usually mid-size cutters. Traditionally, the ARC has had strong ties to the American and German navies and shipbuilders and much of its equipment traces its roots to them.
Similar to other navies in the Latin-American region, the Colombian Navy acquired many vessels in the postwar years of the 50s and 60s, usually as war surplus from the US Navy, and then went through a somewhat dormant period during the 60s to 80s, during which few major acquisitions were performed.

In more recent years, the Colombian Navy has seen two major periods of upgrading and modernization of its equipment:
The first period, as a result of the rise of the drug trade in the late 70s and 80s as well as, at the time, increased political tensions in the Caribbean due to territorial disputes with some of its neighbors -with Nicaragua over the San Andres archipelago and with Venezuela over the Los Monjes Archipelago- saw the need for a stronger caribbean patrol force, and resulted in the acquisition of its biggest vessels to date, 4 missile corvettes ( later upgraded to light frigates ) in 1983 as well as some additional patrol craft.
The second period, as a consequence of the deepening in the internal Colombian conflict, started in late 90s and extended over to 2005-2006, provided strengthening of its riverine and littoral capabilities, involving R&D for new indigenous designs in collaboration with the state-owned Cotecmar shipyards that resulted in new types of vessels such as the state-of-the-art Riverine Support Patrol Boats (Spanish language: Patrullera de Apoyo Fluvial, "PAF" ), also called "riverine mothership" (Spanish language: Nodriza Fluvial ) like the ARC Juan Ricardo Oyola Vera (NF-613) which have drawn the eye of other navies with similar requirements.

Currently, the ARC is working on additional medium and long-term programs, including the development and acquisition of a number of Coastal Patrol Vessels (Fassmer CPV-40) [n 2] [9] in 2011-2012, 2 Oceanic Oceanic Patrol Vessels (Fassmer OPV-80) (2011–2013),[10] and the R&D of an indigenous corvette or frigate-class vessel ("Plataforma Estratégica de Superficie"), planned towards 2018-2020.[10]

7 October 2011, South Korea is to donate a recently retired Pohang class corvette to Colombia as part of a drive to boost arms exports to the South American region. Kun San (757) was decommissioned by the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) on 29 September, having been active for some 27 years since entering service in 1984.[11]


Colombian Naval Aviation roundel.

Colombian CN-235 aircraft at Panama Tocumen International Airport during PANAMAX 2007

The Navy Aviation Command operates approximately 17 fixed and rotary wing aircraft for naval surveillance and patrol, Search and Rescue (SAR), and logistical support of naval facilities and operations.

Colombian Navy – Aircraft[12]
Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Fixed Wing
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain transport C-212-100 1
CASA CN-235  Spain Maritime patrol 3
Cessna 208 United States utility 2
Beechcraft Super King Air United States transport King Air 350 1
Rotary Wing
Bell UH-1N Twin Huey United States transport helicopter 5
Bell 412HP United States utility helicopter Unknown One lost on 6 January 2013.[13]
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117  Germany/ Japan transport helicopter 1
MBB Bo 105  Germany ASW/utility helicopter Bo 105CB 2
Eurocopter AS 555 Fennec  France utility helicopter AS 555 2

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Colombia is not a member of NATO, so there is not an official equivalence between the Colombian military ranks and those defined by NATO. The displayed parallel is approximate and for illustration purposes only.
  2. Some sources have cited the acquisition of up to 4 CPV-40 vessels,[8] however, as of April 2011, only one has been confirmed launched,[9] and budgetary constraints may change this number in the future.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional,Colombia (1 November 2010). "Logros de la Política de Consolidación de la Seguridad Democrática, 2010" (in es). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  2. Armada Republica de Colombia. "Comandante de la Armada Nacional" (in es). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  3. Ministerio de Defensa Nacional,Colombia (1 November 2009). "Logros de la Política de Consolidación de la Seguridad Democrática, 2009" (in es). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  4. David Bushnell (2 July 1995). "Colombia y la causa de los aliados en la segunda guerra mundial" (in es). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  5. "Clave 1944 ARC Caldas hunde submarino nazi" (in es). 22 April 1991. Retrieved 2011-28-04. 
  6. Armada Republica de Colombia (2006). "Insignias de la Armada" (in es). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  7. Congreso de la República de Colombia (28 July 2010). "Ley 1405 de 2010 Nuevos Grados Militares" (in es). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  8. "Las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia estrenan nuevo armamento" (in es). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Fassmer Shipbuilding. "Launching of Colombian Navy 40m Coastal Patrol Vessel (CPV40)". Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 </ in 2011-2012 Colombian Navy intruduce ARC 20, First ship build in Colombia by COTECMAR /> Fr.Cpt. Germán H Locarno (1 October 2010). "Porqué un OPV para la ARC?" (in es). ISSN 1692-1097. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  11. Defense Market Intelligence. "Colombia; Navy granted ex-S. Korean missile Corvette". Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  12. World Air Forces 2013 -, pg 13, December 11, 2012
  13. Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire: Key Publishing Ltd. March 2013. pp. 32. 

External links

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