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Uruguay Navy / Armada Nacional - Marina de Uruguay - History

The sea was the link between two worlds of different cultures. Visionry Spanish and Portuguese sailors competed in nautical science that in daring paths extended the narrow horizons. This rivalry continued in the dominion of the territories whose possession was foreseen as fundamental.

Montevideo was created as a military post in 1724, and received the first contingent population in 1726, its strategic geographical enclave was a decisive factor in its election as Apostadero 50 years later. The city, founded by Zabala, whose bay had been used as safe anchorage for many years, was naturally chosen as the best alternative to establish the seat of the Atlantic South Atlantic, a necessary response to the English threat of occupation of certain colonial lands, Particularly in the high latitudes of the Atlantic.

A royal provision of August 9, 1776, provides for the continuous permanence of two frigates of war in Montevideo, which will be relieved after two years by two others and so on. This initial and elementary organization evolved over time, transforming Montevideo into a true naval base, incorporating services of warehouses, arsenal, hospital and gradually increasing its number of ships. In 1810, the Crown had in Montevideo a naval force of 12 ships.

From this Apostadero, American lands were guarded, coveted by different powers that sought in this virgin world their multiple and different potential riches. Its jurisdiction covered the entire Plata Basin and the South Atlantic, including the Falkland Islands, which were provisioned and protected by vessels based here. By means of the Treaty of San Ildefonso its responsibilities were extended, including the islands of Annobn and Fernando Po.

Parallel to the increase in its military power, Montevideo was favored by complementary royal ordinances, such as the designation of the only way out of agricultural products; Obligatory landing of all the ships on a trip from Callao to a Peninsular Port, or in reverse voyage; Port terminal for cargo and last scale for the correspondence service from Spain.

These benefits, to which the Free Trade Regulation was added, increased in an important commercial growth, that was accentuated with the passage of the years, imposing its supremacy in the Silver. In spite of its reputation as "hell of the sailors", the waters of the river "great as sea", were disputed by the most powerful European fleets, aware of the importance of its dominion, and Montevideo, promoted the growth of a city whose maritime destiny was sealed.

The Uruguayan Navy was formally established in 1860, and its forces saw action during the War of the Triple Alliance, principally in a transport capacity. The modern Uruguayan Navy, however, owes its professional development to the establishment in 1885 of the Military Academy, which offered training to naval and other officers. By 1910 navy strength was some 1,300 in all ranks, and vessels included gunboats (some armed with torpedoes), steamers, and various other small craft. The separate Naval Academy was established in 1916.

After World War I, many of the navy's aging vessels were withdrawn from service, and replacement was slow. The Naval Air Service was formed in 1925, but the first aircraft were not acquired until 1930. The only significant purchase of vessels between the wars was three patrol vessels and a training ship. Personnel declined to fewer than 1,000.

After the outbreak of World War II and the December 1939 Battle of the Rio de la Plata, the government decided to strengthen the navy and the Naval Air Service. During the 1940s and 1950s, the navy, and naval aviation in particular, benefited from United States military assistance. In 1959 Uruguay along with the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela participated in the first large multinational exercise involving Latin American navies. Although the air arm (renamed the Naval Aviation Service in 1951) accounted for 50 percent of naval personnel in 1952, by the late 1960s naval air assets had begun to be withdrawn from service, and few modern replacements were acquired. At the same time, the fleet underwent a modest expansion, and a battalion of marines was added.

During the 1970s, the government acquired a small number of vessels to replace aging equipment. In 1981 three large patrol craft were purchased new from France. The sole addition in the late 1980s was a frigate purchased used from the French navy and commissioned in late 1988. In early 1990, the Uruguayan Navy received two decommissioned United States Coast Guard cutters for coastal patrol and antinarcotics work under a United States Department of State antinarcotics program. Acquisitions were insufficient to offset the number of retired vessels, however, and a further reduction of the navy's assets seemed likely as more vessels had to be withdrawn from service.

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Page last modified: 25-05-2017 13:59:54 ZULU