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The National Navy of Uruguay (Armada Nacional del Uruguay) is a branch of the Armed Forces of Uruguay under the direction of the Ministry of National Defense and the commander in chief of the Navy (Comandante en Jefe de la Armada or COMAR) Admiral Juan H. Fernández.

The service is divided into four main sections:

  • Fleet Command (Comando de la Flota or COMFLO),
  • Coast Guard (Prefectura Nacional Naval or PRENA),
  • Materiel Directorate (Dirección General de Material Naval or DIMAT), and
  • Personnel Directorate (Dirección General de Personal Naval or DIPER).

The Fleet Command is in charge of most of the actual ships of the fleet, the marines, and the naval aviation bases and aircraft. The Coast Guard administers the modest Uruguayan merchant marine and naval registry. The Naval Materiel Directorate preserves and repairs naval equipment, in addition to administering the fleet arsenal and directing hydrological and meteorological study. The Personnel Directorate is concerned with human resources and particularly the administration of the Uruguayan Naval Academy.

In addition, the Fleet General Staff (Estado Mayor General de la Armada or ESMAY) assists the admiral in his administration. It oversees naval intelligence, strategic and tactical planning, logistics, liaison, and political lobbying on the Navy's behalf.



Under the late Spanish Empire, Montevideo became the main naval base (Real Apostadero de Marina) for the South Atlantic, with authority over the Argentine coast, Fernando Po, and the Falklands.[3] The arrival of 100 ships under Viceroy Pedro de Cevallos in 1777 was the beginning of the city's prosperity.

The Uruguayan navy, however, dates its origin from General Artigas's letter of marque on 15 November 1817, which authorized his forces to plunder Buenosairean shipping wherever they found it. Under the nominal leadership of the Pedro Campbell, the Irish "Gaucho Admiral", around 50 privateer schooners and brigs (including the República Oriental, the Fortuna, the Valiente, the Temerario, and the Intrépido) were able to capture more than 200 enemy vessels as far off as Madagascar, Spain, and the Antilles.

Early Republic

See also: Uruguayan Civil War Following independence, a navy was established under Colonel Pablo Zufriategui, a veteran of Artigas's campaigns and the 33 Esterners. As Captain of Ports (Capitán General de Puertos), he fought smuggling and in 1832 directed the first sovereign engagement as the schooner Aguila chased off the pirate ship Exquisit from Uruguayan waters.

Although the force remained too small to play a decisive role in the Great War, it is notable that command of the small fleet was personally assumed by "Jose" Garibaldi, who captured Colonia del Sacramento, Isla Martín García, and Gualeguaychú. The flagship during this period was the corvette Sarandí, named after an important battle in the war for independence.

The first specially fitted warships were the gunboats General Rivera, General Artigas, and General Suárez. The first was assembled in Uruguay by the Academy of Arts & Crafts (Escuela de Artes y Oficios) and commissioned in April 1884; the second was constructed in Trieste, then part of Austria-Hungary, and commissioned in December 1884; the last was the 23-year-old French gunboat Tactique, acquired in 1886. The General Rivera was the first ship of the Navy to pass the Strait of Magellan.

Modern Era

Just prior to World War One, President Williman devoted considerable effort and expense to modernizing the navy, viewing it as demanded for Uruguay's "sovereignty and honor."[4] After false starts in 1817, 1863, and 1874, the Naval Academy (Escuela Naval) was finally permanently established in December 1907. New ships included the gunboat Dieciocho de Julio (constructed in the UK in 1889), the cruiser Montevideo (also British, 1887), the transport Maldonado (constructed in Germany in 1886 and soon rebaptized as the Barón de Río Branco for its tasks for the Commission on the Limits of the Merín Lagoon), the steamer Vanguardia, and the courier Oriental. The cruiser Uruguay was constructed to order in Germany and commissioned August 1910. Also in 1910, the government acquired the Cibils-Jackson shipyard, renaming it the National Dock. These advances were then sabotaged by funding cutbacks throughout the 1920s that left the navy poorly maintained.

In June 1916, the tug Instituto de Pesca Nº1 - manned by servicemen - was the second failed attempt to rescue the men of Shackleton's expedition from Elephant Island.

In 1925, the Fleet Aeronautics Service (Servicio de Aeronáutica de la Armada) was created under Captain Atilio Frigerio, the first Uruguayan pilot to obtain the brevet of Military Pilot (Aviano, Italy, 1912). The first planes, however, did not arrive until 1930.

In 1934, the first Naval Act (Ley Orgánica de la Armada) created the Inspectorate of the Navy (Inspección General de Marina), freeing the Navy from direct subordination to the Army. The next year, three patrol boats ordered from Cantieri Navali Riuniti in Genoa arrived. The Paysandú, Salto, and Río Negro served for about thirty years, were decommissioned, and then were brought back into service in the 90s.

World War II

See also: Battle of the River Plate In December 1939, the Río de la Plata saw the first major naval engagement of World War II when the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee faced the cruisers HMS Ajax, Achilles, and Exeter and then fled into Montevideo harbor during the Battle of the River Plate. Although Uruguay was officially neutral, her pro-British sentiment allowed the Royal Navy to carry out a highly successful disinformation campaign that ended in the German scuttling of the ship.

In 1940, La Paloma's Naval Base (Base Naval de la Paloma) was established. The same year, Uruguay introduced conscription and the Navy established the battalions Zapicán and Honor y Patria as part of its Reserve Fleet. The next year, the Navy created the Naval War School (Escuela de Guerra Naval) to improve its officers' training.

Although Uruguay did not officially join the Allies until 15 February 1945, it was involved in assisting the convoy effort. This involved the confiscation of two Italian and two Occupied Danish freighters in Montevideo, which were manned by the Navy and rechristened the Montevideo, the Maldonado, the Rocha, and the Colonia. The Montevideo was sunk by an Italian sub in March 1942, which prompted Uruguay to seize the German freighter Tacoma. In August 1942, the Maldonado was sunk after its commander was taken prisoner by an attacking German U-Boat. Following this, Uruguay leased a number of its boats to the US Navy and received in 1944 the ASW-capable corvette Maldonado.

The Fleet Aeronautics Service received six Kingfisher hydroplanes from the United States of America in 1942 and Laguna del Sauce Aeronaval Base (Base Aeronaval No.2 de Laguna del Sauce) in 1947.

Cold War

Following World War II, the beginning of the Cold War saw the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance signed in Rio de Janeiro, which provided for "Hemispheric defense" and required signatory states to work to improve and coordinate their naval forces. Between 1949 and 1952, the FAS received sixteen TBM Avenger torpedo bombers, three SNJ Texan trainers, and twelve F6F Hellcat fighters. More, in 1952, the surface fleet received the destroyer escorts Uruguay (DE-1) and Artigas (DE-2) and, in 1953, the frigate Montevideo.

In 1955, the Coast Guard received the three launches PS-1, PS-2, and PS-3. In May 1959, the PS-2 stood out in the rescue of the crew of the Pietrina off the English coast.

In 1957, the UNITAS joint exercises began between the United States and the navies of Latin America. The basic training was oriented towards protection of marine lines of trade and communication, focusing on escort and ASW exercises. With the aim of improving the navy's range and support capability, the oiler Presidente Oribe was purchased in 1962; ten years later, the second oiler Presidente Rivera; and in 1978, the Juan Antonio Lavalleja.

From 1960 to 1962, naval officers on the Alférez Cámpora circumnavigated the globe.

In 1965, three S2A Tracker ASW planes were received; in 1966, the minesweepers Cte. Pedro Campbell and Montevideo; in 1969, the tender Hurrican; in 1970, the minesweepers Rio Negro and Maldonado. In 1973, the destroyer 18 de Julio replaced the Montevideo.

The present Uruguayan Marine Corps (Cuerpo de Fusileros Navales) was established in 1972.

In 1978, repairs were completed to the ROU 20 Capitan Miranda that converted it into a training ship and sailing school. Following graduation from the Naval Academy, cadets embark on a cruise of the world that functions as a good-will tour for Uruguay.


[1][2] Plotting course on the ROU 04 General ArtigasIn 1981, three French-designed Vigilante class patrol boats arrive for the Coast Guard – the 15 de Noviembre, 25 de Agosto, and Comodoro Coe – but it is discovered that their upkeep is considerably more expensive than promised, and the ships are quite unsuited for conditions in the Rio de la Plata. An attempt to sell them in 1995 found no buyers, however, and so the ships have remained in active service.

In 1988, the Navy acquired a new ship to replace its previous oilers, christened the Presidente Rivera.

From 1989 to 1991, three Commandant Riviere class frigates are purchased from France. These are christened the ROU 02 General Artigas, the ROU 01 Uruguay, and the ROU 03 Montevideo. These too run into problems, particularly with upkeep, and the General Artigas is removed from service. In a decision between the two ships, the Uruguay is decommissioned and the Montevideo receives repairs and refurbishment. [3][4]Schooner ROU Capitán Miranda, training ship of the Uruguayan navyFollowing the fall of Communism, a number of former East German Volksmarine ships are purchased from the new government. In 1991, the Navy receives the minesweepers ROU 31 Temerario, ROU 32 Valiente, ROU 33 Fortuna, and ROU 34 Audaz. These are named for corsairs of the independence era. On 5 August 2000, the Valiente sank after a collision. Also in 1991, the Otto von Guericke is purchased and converted into the ROU 26 Vanguardia.

The Coast Guard received new ships from the United States of America, the Colonia and Río Negro; and in 1999, nine boats of the 44 class from the same country.

The buoy tender Sirius was constructed in Montevideo at the National Dock, which also refitted the Portuguese Cte. Pedro Campbell and Uruguay.

Between 1996 and 1999, Wessex W60Mk2 and two Jetstreams are purchased for patrol and ASW.

At the end of 1998, the research ship Oyarvide was purchased from Germany for the purpose of studying and charting the Continental Shelf. It is hoped that the work will justify a redefinition of its boundaries that would approximately double Uruguay's marine exclusive economic zone to around 200,000 km².


The National Navy is composed of about 5,700 personnel organized principally into four commands, each with its distinctive color for official functions.

  • The General Corps (Cuerpo General or CG) under the administration of Fleet Command (Color: Black)
  • The Coastal Corps (Cuerpo de Prefectura or CP) under the administration of the Coast Guard (Color: Gray)
  • The Corps of Mechanical & Electrical Engineers (Cuerpo de Ingenieros de Máquinas y Electricidad or CIME) under the administration of the General Directorate of Naval Materiel (Color: Blue)
  • The Corps of Provision & Administration (Cuerpo de Aprovisionamiento y Administración or CAA) under the administration of the General Directorate of Personnel (Color: White)

In addition, there are two General Services Corps (Servicios Generales or SS.GG.)

  • The Auxiliary Corps (Cuerpo Auxiliar or CA) (Color: Purple) and
  • The Specialists Corps (Cuerpo Especialista or CE) (Color: Green)

and the Naval Academy (Escuela Naval or ESNAL).

The National Navy also includes the Uruguayan Marine Corps and the National Naval Aviation Command.


[5][6] The former Cdt. Rivière class ROU 01 Uruguay and ROU 26 Vanguardia in port at Montevideo [7][8] Stern of the ROU 04 General ArtigasThe ship prefix for Uruguay is ROU (for República Oriental del Uruguay, the "Oriental Republic of Uruguay"). In addition to their ship name, government ships are numerically listed. This is a position and not an identification number: as ships are decommissioned and replaced, their previous numbers are reused by newer vessels.

The current fleet consists of:[5][6]

Ship Name Class Type Commissioned Notes
Escort Division
ROU 01 Uruguay João Belo Frigate 8 April 2008 Formerly NRP Cte. João Belo (F480)
ROU 02 Cte. Pedro Campbell João Belo Frigate 8 April 2008 Formerly NRP Cte. Sacadura Cabral (F483)
ROU 04 General Artigas Lüneburg (E) Replenishment oiler 6 Apr 2005 Refitted with helipad. Used for helicopter patrol & transport. Formerly FGS Freiburg
Patrol Division
ROU 10 Colonia Cape (A) Patrol boat 25 Jan 1990 Formerly USCGC Cape Higgon
ROU 11 Río Negro Cape (C) Patrol boat 25 Jan 1990 Formerly USCGC Cape Horn
ROU 12 Paysandú Paysandú Patrol boat 29 Nov 1968 Italian-built[7]
Teaching Vessel
ROU 20 Capitán Miranda Hydrographic Schooner 28 Dec 1930 Spanish-built. Survey ship prior to 1978, now a training ship
ESNAL Bonanza Oceanic sail boat Schooner training ship
Auxiliary Ships Service
ROU 21 Sirius Balizador Buoy tender 12 May 1988 Built in Montevideo with assistance from Dutch Damen SY
ROU 22 Oyarvide Helgoland Survey ship 21 September 1998 Also salvage tug, icebreaker, hydrographic research. Formerly FGS Helgoland
Service Division
ROU 23 Maldonado Wangerooge (B) Salvage tug 20 Nov 2002 Fitted for firefighting, hydrographic research. Formerly FGS Norderney
ROU 26 Vanguardia Piast Salvage tug 18 Dec 1991 Formerly 570 Otto von Guericke, VM
ROU 27 Banco Ortiz Type 270 Costal tug 8 Nov 1991 Formerly East Germany tug 4 Zingst, VM, Y1655 Elbe,
ROU 42 LADES Landing Ship
ROU 46 LADES Landing Ship
Mining & Counter mining Division
ROU 31 Temerario Kondor II Minesweeper 11 Oct 1991 Formerly 89.242 Riesa, VM
ROU 33 Fortuna Kondor II Minesweeper 11 Oct 1991 Formerly 89.240 Bernau, VM
ROU 34 Audaz Kondor II Minesweeper 11 Oct 1991 Formerly 89.245 Eisleben, VM

Since 1997, the Uruguayan Naval Academy has also maintained the racing sloop Bonanza, a gift from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.[8]

Uruguayan Naval Aviation

Uruguayan Naval Aviation (Aviación Naval Uruguaya or ANU) is the sub-branch of the National Navy for naval aircraft and aviation training. Naval aircraft use a new wing emblem instead of the traditional Artigas roundel like the Uruguayan Air Force for easier identification and use the Uruguayan National flag as fin flash.

Formed as Air Force Service of the Fleet (Servicio de Aeronáutica de la Armada) on 7 February 1925 but didn't receive first aircraft (two CANT 18 and one CANT 21) until 24 September 1930. 12 June 1934 Isla Libertad Naval Air Base (1) in Montevideo Bay operational. In 1942, Sikorsky OS2U-3 Kingfisher & Fairchild PT-23A trainer from US for base access. 10 Sept. 1947, Corvette Captain Carlos A. Curbelo Naval Air Base (2) at Laguna del Sauce operational. 1949-1957, large supply of Grumman Avenger, Grumman Hellcat, Martin Mariner delivered 1951, renamed Naval Aviation (Aviación Naval) 1955, renamed Uruguayan Naval Aviation (Aviación Naval Uruguaya) mid-60s, most reached end of life 1965, Grumman S-2A Tracker and Sikorsky CH-34J Small command w/Squadron Group (Grupo de Escuadrones) of 2 squadrons and 1 training school 2006, received 6 MBB Bo-105M from Germany.

Current Order of Battle

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Beechcraft Super King Air USA ASW/SAR aircraft 2
Grumman S-2 Tracker USA ASW/SAR aircraft 4
Handley Page Jetstream TMk 2 United Kingdom ASW/Trainer aircraft 2
Westland Wessex HC.2-Mk 2 United Kingdom Light transport helicopter 6
MBB Bo 105 Germany Light utility helicopter 105C 8
Eurocopter AS355 HB.355F Brazil Light helicopter 2

Naval Aviation Academy (Escuela de Aviación Naval) Originally at Angel S Adami 1944-1947 Since then at Captain Carlos Curbelo Naval Air Base (2) at Laguna del Sauce 8 Beech T-34C1 Turbo Mentors

  • [9] Coat of Arms
  • [10] Wing Emblem
  • [11] Westland Wessex Mk60
  • [12] Westland Wessex refitted

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