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Dominican Republic Navy

The Navys primary mission is to maintain the countrys maritime territorial integrity. It is also responsible for maritime SAR missions and illegal narcotics and migration interdiction. The navy operates two major naval bases, one in Santo Domingo and one in Las Calderas on the southwestern coast, and maintained 12 operational vessels as of 2010. Many of the Dominican Republics naval vessels date to World War II.

As of 1999, the active naval complement was 3,800 officers and men, a reduction of 25 percent from ten years earlier. Established in 1873, the navy consists of some 3,800 personnel [as of 2014], including a small naval infantry unit and a frogman/SEAL unit. There are three naval zones: Northern, Southern, and Santo Domingo. Bases are at Santo Domingo (HQ and Supply Base), Las Calderas at Bani (principal naval base, naval dockyard with 700-ton synchrolift, naval academy, training center, and supply base), and Haina (dockyard facility and supply base) just west of Santo Domingo. There is also a small naval base at Puerto Plata on the northern coast that is the headquarters for the Northern Zone.

The Dominican Navy (DRN) is divided into three zones: northern, eastern, and southern. Each zone commander reports to the navy chief of staff through the operations officer of the navy general staff in a highly centralized command structure.

Naval bases are located at Santo Domingo (27 de Febrero Naval Base), Las Calderas, Haina, and Puerto Plata. Santo Domingo is the only base capable of accommodating a U.S. destroyer or frigate-sized vessel. It is the headquarters for the naval chief of staff. The principal naval base is Al Haina, which has three dry docks of up to 10,000-ton capacity. Las Calderas, which has a 700-ton synchrolift, is also the primary naval training center and functions as a supply base. Rudimentary naval facilities exist at Barahona and Puerto Plata.

The DRN has approximately 3,800 personnel, including naval infantry. Thirty percent performs non-traditional tasks, such as guard duty and manual labor, for government agencies and the private sector. There is no reserve unit for the naval forces. Naval enlisted personnel are trained at Las Calderas. The Naval Academy at Las Calderas offers a 4-year course to aspiring officers.

A Dominican navy was first established in 1873, when the country acquired a gunboat built in Scotland. By the time the navy was disbanded in 1916 during the United States Marine occupation, the fleet had acquired only two more gunboats and four armed launches. Several elements of the navy were incorporated into the Dominican Constabulary Guard in 1917 to function as a small coast guard.

The navy remained an element of the National Army until 1943, when the Dominican National Navy was formally established as a separate service. During the next year, the navy began activities at the naval base at Las Calderas; in 1948 a separate naval school opened there.

The navy received a number of coast guard cutters from the United States just before the outbreak of World War II. Three additional cutters were transferred after the transport Presidente Trujillowas sunk by a German submarine in 1942. The Dominican Republic was not actively involved in the war although it made base facilities available to the United States. As a consequence of the purchase of numerous war-surplus vessels as part of a postwar expansion program, the Dominican navy became the most powerful in the Caribbean, with personnel numbering 3,000, including one marine battalion.

Naval strength had leveled off by the time of the 1965 civil war when naval units participated in the shelling of Constitutionalist positions in Santo Domingo. After 1965, aging vessels were not replaced, and the naval inventory steadily declined.

The navy chief of staff supervises the operations of the regional commands. The Santo Domingo Naval Zone includes the naval headquarters and the various naval organizations located in the capital. The headquarters of the Northern Naval Zone, at Puerto Plata, are responsible for the Atlantic coast from the northern border with Haiti to the Mona Passage. The Southern Naval Zone, headquartered at Barahona, covers the southwest coastal area to the Haitian border. The Eastern Naval Zone, with headquarters at La Romana, covers the eastern end of the island.

By 1999 national economic constraints had reduced the Dominican fleet to twelve armed patrol vessels and thirteen support ships, tugboats, and sail training ships. Most of the armed vessels are World War-II vintage craft of United States origin. The largest is a 1,000-ton (fully loaded) patrol vessel of the Balsam class, formerly a United States Coast Guard cutter transferred to the Dominican Republic in 1995 for antinarcotics patrols. Only limited use haf been made of the new vessel because of insufficient fuel supplies. The most heavily armed erre two 855-ton corvettes sold to the Dominican Republic in 1976. Each mounts two 76mm guns. An Admiral-class gunship of 905 tons, a former United States minesweeper, and a Satoyomo-class vessel of 860 tons are each mounted with a single 76mm gun. Smaller patrol craft are fitted with Bofors 40mm machine guns and Oerlikon 20mm machine guns.

The navy haf at its disposal two Alouette III helicopters and five Cessna T-41D aircraft for inshore coastal reconnaissance. Naval aircraft are operated by air force liaison personnel.

The Dominican Navy undertook a concerted effort in 1999, in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard, to intercept illegal shipments to Puerto Rico of persons, weapons, and drugs. In addition, the navy created a motorized company to interdict illegal crossings. The company consists primarily of fifty-five naval officers who patrol the coasts on all-terrain motorbikes, equipped with night vision and communications gear.

Naval enlisted personnel receive instruction at the training center at Las Calderas. The Naval Academy at Las Calderas offers a four-year course to officer cadets.

Naval Infantry (Marines)

The Dominican Republic Naval Infantry is a branch of the Navy whose members are considered armed sailors. Its size is equivalent to a single, undersized battalion of U.S. Marines. It is deployed at company- and platoon-strength for base security at naval shore installations. Dominican naval infantrymen are organized into one security unit and one probable commando unit.

The naval infantrys mission is to provide base security at naval installations around the country. Naval infantry enlisted personnel are trained where most naval facilities are located. The Naval Academy at Las Calderas offers a 4-year course to aspiring officers.

The naval infantry trains according to a modified U.S. mechanized infantry doctrine, using wheeled APCs and stressing combat in built-up areas. It has not been observed employing this doctrine in a tactical situation. Unit training, while infrequent, is conducted more regularly than other branches of the armed forces. Antiriot training is also conducted. Prior to joining the naval infantry, personnel undergo regular naval training.





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