Venezuela Naval Forces Modernization
By 2008 only two of Venezuela's six LUPO class frigates were operational. The first two units had been overhauled in the US in 2001, and the other four were being "modernized" in Venezuela. Both Type 209 submarines remained in overhaul, and the Venezuelan naval academy's tall sailing ship had remained pier-side for the last five years. The Venezuelan Navy, depends on its personnel, equipment, and facilities to successfully accomplish the Navy's mission. Therefore Naval operations rely on the ability of the officers to plan, organize, lead, and control the organization. Naval officers, whether senior or junior, hold positions as managers. Although naval officers are generally well educated and trained; they are weak in the management area.
In November 2005 Spain's Minister of Defence Jose Bono attended a contract-signing ceremony announcing that EADS-CASA would deliver 12 aircraft and Spanish ship-builder Navantia would deliver 8 ships for a total value of EUR 1.7 billion ($2 billion), of which the aircraft were about EUR 450-500 million. Spain would deliver 10 C-295 light-medium transports and 2 CASA EADS CN-235MPA Persuader maritime patrol aircraft. The deal reportedly included 4 corvettes [possibly AFCON consortium ships] and 4 patrol vessels from Navantia.
In 2005 the US reportedly moved to block the proposed $2 billion Spanish sale to Venezuela of 12 C-295/C-235MP aircraft and 8 small naval vessels. In November 2005 US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at a briefing: "In terms of the sale of some military systems by Spain to Venezuela, we have expressed our concerns to the government of Spain concerning those sales, and we are currently looking at technology licensing issues related to that sale."
It was announced on 19 October 2006 by the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, that EADS-CASA, a division of a European defense contractor, had decided to back out of a deal to supply Venezuela with 12 military aircraft. The 12 aircraft were part of a 1.7 billion euro military sale originally signed in March 2005 between Spain and Venezuela. Spanish officials insisted that EADS-CASA had been unable to produce an economically feasible means to transfer the technology involved in the sale. Venezuelan officials, however, countered with the implication that the sale was halted after pressure from the United States. In July 2007 Venezuela declared the EUR 500 million CASA C-235/295 sale nullified.
Venezuela is negotiating the purchase of several dozen Ilyushin Il-114 patrol planes. Instead of Il-38 as a patrol plane, Rosoboronexport is promoting its Il-114 aircraft on the market, which should be produced by the Tashkent aircraft building plant, as planned by the United Aircraft Building Corporation (UAC). This aircraft has been offered to Venezuela, but the installment of arms on it, as well as of the target search and track system, had not been finalized as of mid-2008. Production of the Il-114 aircraft for the Russian Defense Ministry is not expected before 2020. If Venezuela placed an order for 20 planes, the anti-submarine version of the Il-114 patrol plane could be built within five years.
The pre-election terror attack in Spain in 2004 killed 190 people. Three days after the attacks, Spain's voters gave Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero an upset victory over the incumbent conservatives, whom many Spaniards accuse of provoking the bombings by supporting the US-led war in Iraq. Mr. Rodriguez Zapatero has said he will withdraw Spain's 13-hundred troops from Iraq by the end of June unless they come under a United Nations mandate. He also pledged to improve relations with France and Germany, shifting Spain away from its close ties with the United States under the conservatives to a more pro-European stance.
On November 2005, Venezuela ordered from Navantia, the construction of 8 patrol boats, 4 BVL for the control of the coast, and 4 POVZEE, for the control of the exclusive economic area. The missions of these ships are basically the vigilance and protection of the fishing zones, protection against drugs enforcement and anti-smuggling operations, and protection of the maritime traffic. As part of this contract, Navantia is also building 4 patrols for the control and protection of the exclusive economic area, to be delivered from May 2010 to July 2011. Besides the important work for the shipyards of Navantia until 2.012, this contract means an important commercial milestone for the company, as it outlines its position in this market, with an own last generation project.
In July 2008 the head of Russia's state-run arms exporter said that Russia and Venezuela were preparing a contract for the delivery of Russian-made diesel submarines to the Latin American country. ""We are holding talks with Venezuela on the delivery of diesel submarines to the country, but a contract has not been signed," Sergei Chemezov said. "We will sign it [the contract] as soon as negotiations are completed." Venezuela has been vigorously pursuing the modernization of its naval fleet and coastal defenses to counter a possible U.S. blockade of its oil fields and to prepare for direct military confrontation with Washington. Moscow and Caracas have finalized a $1.2 billion contract for the sale of four Project 636 Kilo-class submarines, bringing the value of bilateral military-technical contracts to $2 billion. Russian sources earlier reported that the two countries were negotiating a deal on the delivery of five Project 636 Kilo-class submarines, with the possible addition of four Project 677 Amur vessels. Replacing two obsolecent submarines with four modern submarines is something of an increase in naval capability, while a fleet of nine modern submarines would represent a major increase in combat capability.
Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands is working with state-owned Venezuelan yard UCOCAR - La Unidad Naval Coordinadora de los Servicios de Carenado de la Armada – for the construction of two Damen Stan Patrol 4207 patrol boats and five smaller fast interception craft (Stan Patrol 2606) for the Venezuelan Coast Guard. The Stan Patrol 4207 ships will be armed with one 20mm canon, two 12.7mm and two 7.62mm machine guns. The Stan Patrol 2606 craft will mount three 12.7mm and three 7.62 machine guns and one automatic grenade launcher.
Established in January 1995, Damex Shipbuilding & Engineering is a 50:50 Cuban joint venture with Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands and the Grupo Industrial the Astilleros (GIA), which was under the Cuban Ministry of transport. Damex acts as a license holder and an aftersales service location for Damen Shipyards Holland, and can build new ships with a length of up to 100 meters. The history of Damex Shipbuilding & Engineering began in 1980 with the building of a series of Stan Tugs to Cuban operator Navegación Caribe. In 1996 the American embargo against Cuba was strengthened with the Helms-Burton Act. This act extended the territorial application of the initial embargo to apply to foreign companies trading with Cuba. Damex however is not located on confiscated property nor is Damex using other confiscated property.
|Stan Lander 5612|
|Length o.a.||57.27 m|
|Beam o.a.||12 m|
|Depth at sides||3.9 m|
|Power range||1074 kW|
The ships are not landing craft in the traditional sense, with opportunities to be able to land on a beach, but RoRo (roll on/roll off) ships, which need to unload and load at a dock. Built for coastal or port service, it can carry up to 42 containers or vehicles, thanks to a roll-on roll-off ramp at the bow. The decks are too light for the transport of tanks or heavy armored vehicles. The RoRo 5612 ships are supplied without military communications or weapon systems and do not have foundations on which later weapon systems can be mounted. The Korean Capana class ships feature of armaments, but have partly because of less cargo space for bulk goods such as building materials. That's one of the reasons why OCAMAR ordered the un-armed RoRo 5612 ships from Damex.
The RoRo5612 ships were delivered to the logistical part of the Venezuelan Navy (the Officina Apoya Maritime de la Coordinadora the Armada, OCAMAR) and regularly "rented" to other ministries for infrastructural development of Venezuelan Islands, supply duties, humanitarian aid and – if necessary – for help with evacuation in the event of natural disasters.
Venezuela may embark on the acquisition of a large amphibious support ship. That country's navy has been in search of such a vessel since the 1990s and is primarily focused on acquiring a ship that can deliver up to 750 troops alongside their equipment and vehicles. It is thought that three shipbuilders, namely Spain's Navantia, DCNS of France and Italy's Fincantieri, have been approached to fulfil the requirement. The new amphibious support ship could be procured as part of an overall expansion of the country's amphibious warfare capabilities which might see the marine corps being expanded into a division-sized force.
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