A contract to complete the two 300t training vessels intended for the Argentine Navy was signed on 20 August by The Argentine Defence Ministry, Rio Santiago Shipyard and Tanador Shipyard.

Construction began in 2016 but was halted in 2018. The ARS100 million ($1.3 million/€1.08 million) contract – allocated 80/20 between Rio Santiago and Tanador – calls for the two vessels to be completed within 18 months.

Simultaneously, a plan to convert two of the six MEKO 140-class corvettes into OPVs was outlined, with the main work being modification of the stern and removal of the twin 40/70 Bofors gun, in order to facilitate stern deployment of two interceptor boats. As the corvettes are mostly used for control of illegal fishing activities, the plan is to make them more suitable for those operations.

The Chief of Staff of the Navy, Rear Adm Julio Guardia, talked about the programme to commission the AURORA AUSTRALIS polar vessel, being donated by P&O Maritime. As this caused concern to the worker’s unions at the Río Santiago shipyard – since it had been planned to build a new polar ship locally and they considered the commissioning of the ex-P&O would put an end to that – Adm Guardia explained that they are two different programmes: negotiations are under way for immediate acquisition of the AURORA AUSTRALIS, while the Navy retains plans to move forward to build a new and bigger ship in Argentina.

Defence Minister, Agustín Rossi, talked again about the interest in building a Landing Ship Dock locally, in modernizing the rest of the MEKO 140 corvettes and MEKO 360 destroyers and in reviving the submarine force.

Santiago Rivas and Florencia Lucero Heguy in Buenos Aires for MON

Completion of the two 300t training vessels is mandated within 18 months. (Photo: Santiago Rivas)

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