ARA Independencia was a battleship that served in the Argentine Navy between 1893 and 1948, and with the Argentine Coast Guard as a pilot station ship from 1949 to 1968. It was one of nine Argentine naval ships with this name.
Independencia was a battleship designed mainly for coastal and riverine use, being classified by the Argentine Navy as “Riverine Battleship” (Spanish: Acorazado de Río); in the 1902 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships it was listed as “Coast Service Battleship”.
It had a steel hull with six bulkheads and a ram at its bow, an armoured belt over two-thirds of its length, an armoured deck, and an armoured conning tower. It was propelled by two vertical compound steam engines, and had a single mast and funnel. The mast differed slightly from the one in its sister Libertad.
As designed, its main battery had two 240mm Krupp guns (one at the bow and the other at the stern) on Vavasseur mountings protected with armoured shields, and two quick-firing 120mm Elswick guns on each side. The secondary battery had four 47 mm quick-firing Nordenfelt/Hotchkiss guns, and two 25mm Nordenfelt guns.
In July 1889, the Argentine Naval Commission in London signed a contract with the shipyard Cammell Laird of Birkenhead ordering the construction of “two twin-shaft, ram-equipped battleships for riverine service” (Spanish: ''dos acorazados de espolón de doble hélice para servicio de ríos) at a unit cost of £ 176.000; this transaction was latter approved in September of that year by the Ministry.
The second ship, named Independencia, started construction in 1890 and was launched in 1891; its construction was completed in 1892-3. In April 1893 it was formally accepted by the Argentine Navy, under command of Captain Edelmiro Correa. It departed Liverpool on June 29th, arriving in Buenos Aires on July 31st 1893.
Independencia participated in the suppression of the Radical uprising of 1893. In August 1893 it was ordered to La Plata where its crew contributed to maintaining public order. On 27th September it participated in the naval Combat of the Espinillo against the monitor Los Andes, which supported the revolutionaries. Independencia ‘s heavy main battery badly damaged the rebel ship, forcing it to surrender; while it didn’t suffer damage.
In mid-1894 it participated in the naval exercises as part of the 1st Division; later this year it joined its sister ship, Libertad, and the battleship Almirante Brown.
In 1904 it was assigned to the Training Division (Spanish: “División Instrucción”) up to late 1909. In 1915 was reclassified as “coast guard ship”. In 1917-19 was assigned to the Hydrographic Service, to perform survey tasks; in 1921-22 was assigned as training ship. In 1923-26 was put in reserve, being upgraded to use petrol instead of coal. In 1927 it was reclassified as “gunboat”, in 1929 it assisted the rescue of Monte Cervantes crew and passengers when the latter was wrecked near Ushuaia. It was assigned to the Gunboat Division in 1930.
In December 1946 Independencia was discharged from the Argentine Navy (decree 22.556); however remained in use as submarine tender during 1947-48 at the Mar del Plata naval base. In 1949 it was transferred to the Coast Guard, to be used as station ship for pilots in the Río de la Plata (English: River Plate). In 1968 was discharged from the Argentine Coast Guard, and it was sold for scrapping in 1969.