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Bolivia Navy / Fuerza Naval

Bolivia has no coastline, but it still has a small navy to patrol the countries rivers and lakes. Although a landlocked country, Bolivia established a nascent naval force in the early 1960s when it acquired four patrol boats from the United States. The River and Lake Force (Fuerza Fluvial y Lacustre) was created in January 1963 under the Ministry of National Defense. It consisted of 1,800 personnel recruited largely from the army. Bolivia's naval force was rechristened the Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana) in January 1966, but it also has been called the Bolivian Navy (Armada Boliviana).

Bolivia lost its ocean access in its 1879-1884 War of the Pacific with Chile, but wants that access returned. Azberijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are “land-locked” in that they have no ocean access, but border the Caspian Sea, which is a pretty good size piece of water, and ships with a displacement of several thousand tons can navigate between the Caspian and the world's oceans via Russia's network of canals and rivers. Other landlocked navies include other countries with large lakes [Burundi on Lake Tanganyika, Malawi on Lake Nyasa, Rwanda on Lake Kivu, Switzerland on Lakes Konstanz and Leman (Geneva), and Uganda on Lake Victoria] or large rivers [Laos has a Riverine Force for the Mekong, Paraguay is bordered and criss-crossed by navigable rivers, and Serbia has a Riverine Force for the Danube). Contrary to about.com the Central African Republic, the CIA does not belive the CAR has a naval service.

During the Government of Dr. Victor Paz Estensoro in August 1961, the Constituent Assembly approved the insertion in article 200 of the new Constitution the State policy, establishing the Fuerza Fluvial y Lacustre" ["River and Lake Force"] as a component of the armed forces of the Nation. Decree D.S. No. 06339 of 04 January 1963, asignes the role of keep waters of the country under its jurisdiction, driving and protecting national military and merchant navigation. In 1966, during the Government of Gral. Ejio. Alfredo Ovando Candia, given the prospects of its development, by D.S. No. 07469 the name was changed to the "Bolivian Naval Force".

The Naval Force as an integral part of the armed forces of the nation, is the permanent expression of Naval Power and meets the following specific missions to:

  • ensure sovereignty and maritime interests defence River and Lake in the nation.
  • guarantee the free navigation of the Merchant Navy in the seas, rivers and lakes, checking the usage right of territorial seas, contiguous zones, the continental shelf and maritime funds.
  • contribute to the empowerment of the nation in coordination with other forces, encouraging, promoting and protecting merchant military navigation and other private character.
  • raise the national hydrographic chart.
  • prevent and suppress piracy in shipping, trade and fisheries.
  • executing specific missions in support of the army or the air force.
  • actively participate in the integral development of the nation according to directives of the command in Chief.
  • to exercise jurisdiction and jurisdiction with patrimonial waters, ports and naval installations, in accordance with the provisions referred to in the law of Fluvial, lacustrine and marine navigation.

Fuerza Naval in 1989 had approximately 3,800 personnel, including 2,000 naval infantry personnel and marines, as well as about 1,800 conscripts. The navy's small motor launches operated mainly on Lake Titicaca and the numerous navigable rivers of the sparsely populated northeastern portion of the country. The navy's riverine patrol duties included dislodging Brazilian and other foreign gold miners and interdicting smugglers of narcotics and contraband. Its areas of operation were divided into five (or possibly six) naval districts--Lake Titicaca, Río Beni, Río Madre de Dios, Río Mamoré, and Río Paraguay--each with one flotilla. The five naval headquarters were located in Guaqui (on Lake Titicaca's southern shore), Puerto Guayaramerín (on Río Mamoré), Puerto Suárez, Riberalta, and San Pedro de Tiquina (on Lake Titicaca's eastern shore). Other bases were in Puerto Busch, Puerto Horquilla, Puerto Villarroel (on Río Ichilo), Trinidad, and Rurrenabaque. The "Admiral Grau" Marine Infantry Battalion (Batallón de Infantería de Marina "Almirante Grau") was based at the Fourth Naval District, Titicaca, in Tiquina.

In the late 1980s, the navy had several dozen boats in service, including about ten river patrol craft. It received its first United States-built, river-patrol launch, the twenty-meter Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in 1985. In 1986 the navy acquired nineteen outboard motors for its five- and six-meter patrol boats, effectively doubling its reconnaissance capability. Bolivia's only seagoing vessel, the Libertador Bolívar, was normally docked at Rosario on the Río de la Plata (Plate River) in Argentina and was used to and from Bolivian free zones in Argentina and Uruguay. The navy also had two Cessna aircraft.

By hte late 1990s Bolivia was the world's second leading producer of cocaine hydrochloride, and had an illegal coca-cocaine industry, including sophisticated operations to smuggle essential chemicals, that was increasingly under the control of Bolivians. The participation of foreigners was more and more relegated to the refining of base into cocaine hydrochloride and to transporting cocaine out of Bolivia. The former Government never implemented an eradication program in the Yungas, and quickly discontinued its policy of arresting and prosecuting persons who plant new coca. The new Banzer government promised prompt action on both issues. The Bolivian Navy's Blue Devil Task Force was granted law enforcement authority, a change which promised to result in greatly improved interdiction results on the country's waterways.

Naval Force carries out a comprehensive policy of health in support of the border areas and of the interior, with the purpose of providingx medical and dental care in river areas and Lake and naval units of the Interior. In coordination with the Ministry of health, hospital ships cruise in the f1uvial and lacustrine basins, with the objective of assisting the health of the Highlands and East populations.

The largest ship of the Bolivian Naval Force began a journey of three days in the Lake Titicaca to the Peruvian city of Puno, where the crew would be received by their counterparts in the Peruvian Navy. The "multipurpose vessel" departed at noon today from the Bolivian port of Guaqui with 150 cadets, men and women, 20 crew and instructors and 10 people in charge of the service, said by telephone the commander of the vessel, Lieutenant Commander Raul Ferrufino. "This statement is purely for the purpose of seamanship training and on-board (...) On Wednesday we will anchor in Puno, where the Peruvian authorities, both the Navy of Peru as local authorities, are awaiting us to the reception," said Ferrufino.

The official stressed that it is the first trip of "international education" that makes a ship Bolivian flag. The boat, which weighs 350 tons, was built in the shipyard of the town of Tiquina, also the shores of Lake Titicaca, and then moved to Guaqui, where it operated since 2009. The ship, with four decks and a capacity to accommodate 180 people, is mainly used for training cadets, humanitarian support and tourist navigation, according Ferrufino. Bolivian Navy has other vessels of less weight, including a boat-hospital operating with health brigades in the axis of the Ichilo-Mamore rivers in the Amazon region of the country, and another in Lake Titicaca, shared with Peru. Ferrufino said before returning to Bolivia, multipurpose boat also stop in the Peruvian port of Juli and later, in Bolivian waters, the cadets made some "seamanship tasks". Titicaca is the highest in the world to be located 3,810 meters above sea level over the lake.

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Page last modified: 29-05-2016 19:41:21 ZULU