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Navy of Peru / Marina de Guerra del Perú

Navy of Peru / Marina de Guerra del PerúAs of 1992, the navy had a total complement of 22,000 personnel, including 2,000 officers, 10,000 conscripts, and 3,000 marines. Volunteers included at least fifty enlisted servicewomen in the navy, some with ranks and regular two-year service duties, others with one-day-a-week and Saturday duties for one year. The former could reenlist for additional two-year periods, the latter for one. They performed mostly administrative tasks.

The number of naval personnel increased by more than 100 percent (and the marines by 150 percent) during the 1980s, more rapidly than any other service grew. In large measure, the increase had resulted from the completion during the decade of a major modernization program begun during the military government of 1968-80. By the end of the 1980s, the Peruvian Navy had replaced that of Chile as the third largest in Latin America, behind only Brazil and Argentina.

Reporting directly to the commander in chief of the navy were the chief of staff and the commanders of the Pacific Naval Force, Amazon River Force, Callao Naval Base, and the Naval Studies Center (Centro de Estudios Navales--CEN). The two key components were the Pacific Naval Force and the Amazon River Force. By far the most important was the Pacific fleet, with ten submarines, two cruisers, six destroyers, four missile frigates, and six missile attack craft (see table 25, Appendix). Most were based at the Callao Naval Base, with the submarines at San Lorenzo Island; there was also a small base at Talara in the northwestern department of Piura.

The Amazon River Force had four river gunboats and some twenty small craft, most at the main base at Iquitos, with a subsidiary facility at Madre de Dios. Additional components included the Lake Titicaca Patrol Force, with about a dozen small patrol boats, based at Puno; and the Naval Air Service with about sixty aircraft between Jorge Chávez International Airport at Lima (fixed wing) and the Callao Naval Base (a helicopter squadron and a training unit). The greatly expanded Marine Infantry of Peru (Infantería de Marina del Perú-- Imap) included an amphibious brigade and local security units with two transports (one used as a school ship), four tanklanding ships, and about forty Brazilian Chaimite armored personnel carriers. Since 1982 Imap detachments have been deployed, under army command, in counterinsurgency capacities in Ayacucho and Huancavelica departments.

The Peruvian Navy has a history of working with the United States. The Peruvian Navy has participated in the following joint exercises with the U.S.: UNITAS, RIMPAC, SIFOREX, joint submarine training with the U.S., and PASSEX.138 Silent Force Exercise (SIFOREX) an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise where the U.S. Navy trains against real diesel submarines as opposed to synthetic threats or nuclear submarines. Diesel electric submarines’ ability to run virtually silent presents a detection challenge to ships and aircraft. These subs are only used by foreign navies, so the United States depends on countries such as Peru to conduct these training exercises.

These exercises strengthen relationships and interoperability between the U.S. Navy and the Peruvian Navy. Statements by Peruvian Admirals in Proceedings reveal a willingness to work with the U.S., but with a prime importance given to sovereignty. In 2005, Peruvian ADM Jose Luis Noriega Lores stated, “interoperability with other navies and the exchange of doctrine and procedures are crucial nowadays” and mentioned Peruvian participation in U.S. naval exercises involving frigates and submarines.140 In 2006, Peruvian ADM Jorge Ampuero Trabucco stated the “desire to develop an interoperable capability among our navies” and “the principle of no intervention in others state matters.”

In 2007, Peruvian RADM Wladimirio Giovannini y Freire, Secretary General, Peruvian Navy stated that “cooperative work on a global scale should be included in the general strategy, as should development of a legal framework in accordance with international law…the importance of not intervening in other countries’ internal affairs…Respect for sovereignty is high.” Thus while both Chile and Peru seek greater levels of interoperability, Chile seems to be more interested in participating in the world stage and Peru seems to be more interested in respecting sovereignty.

The Peruvian Navy’s area of responsibility is 300,000 square miles (1,500 miles of coastline x 200 miles of EEZ) To cover this area the navy has the following: eight frigates, one cruiser, seven fast attack craft, four patrol craft, and six submarines. This excludes riverine craft and auxiliaries. They also have five tankers. The Coast Guard assets include 61 varied types of patrol craft. As is the case with Chile, besides considering if these ships are enough to provide MDA coverage for Peru’s responsibility in the Eastern Pacific, it is going to be interesting to see how the increasing cost of fuel will affect future operations. However, Peru does not have a “Mar Presencial” or equivalent concept like Chile.

Perhaps one of the explanations for the Peruvian stance is the previous conflict with the U.S. in the Economic Exclusion Zone over the protection of marine resources. History notes the U.S.-Peruvian “Tuna War” of 1969 when US vessels were fishing 40 miles off the coast of Peru. This led to two Peruvian patrol boats being deployed. One US ship was detained and fined $10,500 and a second U.S. ship was strafed with 40-60 machine gun bullets into her upper parts.

In the case of Chile/Peru cooperation, another hurdle to be overcome is the loss of land to Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). The Peruvian naval goals and objectives are more inward looking, because besides control of the seas, the role of the Peruvian navy is assume internal control in states of emergency, when deemed appropriate by the President of the Republic, participate in the social and economic development of the country and with Civil Defense according to law, with the end to guarantee the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Republic against any threat, external or internal.

Peru has the world’s second largest commercial fisheries, and is a key component of the country’s economy. It is the second highest generator of foreign currency after mining, accounting for U.S.$ 1,124 million dollars in export in 2001. Therefore, protection of their ‘territorial seas’ and preventing other countries from reaping unauthorized benefits from the use of their fisheries remains a vital national security issue. Another reason for Peru be highly interested in securing their territorial seas is Petro-Tech Peruana Oil Company confirmed reserves of 1.132 billion barrels of high quality oil off the coasts of the provinces of Piura and Lambayaque. In the case of Peru, they have a history of working with the U.S. that is likely to keep deepening the relationship between these two navies. They have had a historic rivalry with Chile that still affects state and military decision making. Perhaps inroads are being made to transform the perception of Chile as a hostile country; some evidence of this is both Chile and Peru’s ability to resolve their maritime dispute in the ICJ at the Hague while maintaining cordial relationships with one another. Peru holds faster to the statist-nationalist strategy than Chile this might mean a more hesitant approach to naval cooperation with Chile and a focus on sovereignty that trumps intervention except in clearly delineated cases.

Marina de Guerra del Perú Ship Naming

By law, an active ship of the Peruvian Navy must be named Almirante Grau at all times, even if the ship bearing the name is only temporarily removed from active service. For instance, between 1985 and 1989, CH 81 was removed from service for a refit and CH 84, the Aguirre, was renamed as the Almirante Grau. When CH 81 was recommissioned in 1989, CH 84 was renamed back to Aguirre and CH 81 again became Almirante Grau.





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