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Secretariat of the Navy - Modernization

The Mexican Navy valued its self-image as a blue-water navy, but suffers from the same problem as the Air Force - a hodgepodge of too many different types of vessels. Many of its larger ships are obsolete ex-U.S. Navy vessels of World War II vintage. Among its newer acquisitions are eight Holzinger class gunboats, the first two coming into service in 1999. These were designed and constructed at the Navy's own shipyards, which are an important national strategic infrastructure. In addition, Swedish fast launches had been procured for interdictions close to the coastlines.

During the 1980s, the navy benefited substantially from the acquisition of new vessels and other equipment. Considerable funds also were used for construction of new ports, renovation of existing facilities, and development of shipyards and drydocks for repairs and maintenance. Many of the navy's combat vessels are World War II ships originally part of the United States Navy, which have been modernized by the addition of new weapons, electronic warfare and communications gear, and the replacement of propulsion systems.

Purchases during the 1980s included two World-War-II vintage Gearing-class destroyers, which joined a Fletcher-class destroyer transferred from the United States Navy in 1970. The Gearing-class vessels are armed with 127mm (5-inch) guns and Bofors 40mm guns for air defense. They also are mounted with antisubmarine rocket (Asroc) homing missiles (see table 15, Appendix). In 1982 and 1983, Mexico acquired from Spain six new Halcón-class large patrol vessels. The new ships are equipped with platforms and hangars for German Bo-105 helicopters and are designed primarily to patrol the EEZ. The navy commissioned four Holzinger-class fisheries-protection vessels constructed at Tampico between 1991 and 1993. Sixteen Auk-class patrol boats built in the United States during World War II are reaching the end of their useful service life. All twelve Admirable-class patrol boats were modernized in 1994. Thirty-one Azteca-class twenty-one-meter inshore patrol boats are used for fishery patrols. The first twenty-one of these were built in Britain and the remainder in Mexico; Mexico modernized the British-built vessels in 1987. The Mexican fleet also includes small patrol craft, a number of river patrol vessels, and survey ships and logistic support vessels. Naval cadets man the Spanish-built sail training ship, the Cuauhtémoc.

Despite improvements, the Mexican navy in 1996 was not as well equipped to protect its territorial waters and coasts as were the navies of other large Latin American countries. The navy lacked submarines and missile-armed, fast-attack craft. In addition, Mexico's larger vessels are without modern surface-to-air missiles for air defense.

The naval aviation arm had as its primary missions coastal surveillance and search-and-air rescue operations. Maritime reconnaissance is performed by Bo-105 helicopters armed with machine guns and rockets, most of which operate off ship platforms. In 1994 the naval aviation arm purchased four MD500s, used for training purposes; four Fennée; and eight Russian Mi-8 helicopters. In May 1996, the navy announced it would purchase an additional twelve Mi-8s. Coastal patrols and air rescue are carried out by six HU-16 Grumman Albatross aircraft and nine Spanish-built C-212 Aviocars. A variety of small transport, utility, and liaison planes complete the naval aircraft inventory.

As of 2006 the Navy, with a strength of 37,000, had 11 principal surface combatants (3 destroyers and 8 frigates), 109 patrol and coastal combatants (44 offshore patrol, 41 coastal patrol, 6 inshore patrol, and 18 riverine patrol), amphibious tank landing ships (LSTs), 19 support vessels, and a host of auxiliary and training vessels. Naval aviation consisted of eight combat aircraft, several transport aircraft of different sizes, and helicopters of at least seven different types and ages.

Mexican Navy Shipyards (ASTIMAR) had produced ships for the Mexican Secretariat of Navy (SEMAR) since the 1990s. An ambitious plan was released in 2013 to build 62 new vessels. The plan projected the production of four new OPVs of an improved variant of the Oaxaca class, 20 Tenochtitlan class CPVs based on the Damen Stan Patrol 4207 series and 16 Polaris II fast craft, a locally produced version of the Dockstavarvet IC16M. Damen signed an agreement with Mexico so the country can construct in its own shipyards the OPVs based on Damen’s Stan Patrol 4207.

Budgetary issues led to delayes, but by 2016 ASTIMAR had managed to complete five Tenochtitlan class CPVs and a pair of Polaris II, while two OPVs were in the final stages of construction. The newer Oaxaca class OPVs features several modifications and improvements over the first four units of the class, including a bulbous bow, a new fire control system and a BAE Systems Bofors Mk3 57mm turret instead of the Oto Melara Super Rapid 76mm which was mounted on the previous ships of the class. The Mexican Navy is also moving ahead with the integration on the Polaris I fast craft class (Dockstavarvet CB90H) of the locally developed SCONTA .50 remotely operated weapon station.

The shipyard No.6 at Guaymas (state of Sonora) launched the logistics support vessel ARM Isla María Madre in late May while shipyard No.1 shipyard launched coastal patrol vessel ARM Monte Albán in mid July 2016. Secretary of Navy Admiral Vidal Soberón Sanz noted during the launch ceremony that the ship was entirely built by Mexican workers with local materials.

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Page last modified: 24-02-2020 18:13:59 ZULU