|Active September 17, 1810|
Notable commander José Prudencio Padilla
|Role Protection of the seas and rivers of Colombia|
Size 35,086 As of September 2013 ~13,000 Officers & sailors ~22,000 Marine Infantry
March "Viva Colombia, soy marinero"
Motto Plus Ultra (Latin: further beyond)
Similar Military Forces of Colombia, Colombian Air Force, National Army of Colombia, Ecuadorian Navy, National Navy of Uruguay
Armada de colombia arc colombian navy 2014
The Colombian Navy, officially the Colombian National Navy (Spanish: Armada Nacional de la República de Colombia), also known as the "Armada Nacional" or just the "Armada" in Spanish, is the naval branch of the military forces of Colombia. The Navy is responsible for security and defence in the Colombian zones of both the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific oceans, the extensive network of rivers inside the country, and a few small land areas under its direct jurisdiction.
- Armada de colombia arc colombian navy 2014
- Armada nacional de colombia 2015 arc colombian navy 2015
- 19th Century and Origins
- Early 20th century
- World War II
- Korean War
- Anti piracy operations in the Horn of Africa
- Engagements and Conflicts
- Forces and Commands
- Naval educational institutions
- Operating Bases
- Ranks Insignias
The Colombian Navy has a strength of 35,086 personnel as of September 2013 including approximately 22,000 in the Marine Infantry corps.
The acronym "ARC", (Spanish: Armada de la República de Colombia) is used both as the official ship prefix for all the Colombian Navy ships, as well as a common short name for the Navy itself.
Armada nacional de colombia 2015 arc colombian navy 2015
As stated in its institutional site, the mission of the Colombian Navy is:
“Contribute with the defense of the Nation through the effective use of flexible naval power in the maritime, river and land spaces under its responsibility, in order to fulfill the constitutional role and participate in the development of sea power and the protection of the interests of Colombians".
In order to accomplish its mission, the Colombian navy establishes four strategic objectives:
- Protection of the population and resources and consolidation of territorial control.
- Neutralization of illegal drug trafficking.
- Strategic deterrence.
- Maritime and riverine safety.
In addition to functions of security and defense the Navy is called to participate in missions aimed to ensure the integral use of the sea by the Nation. For this purpose it must fulfill both military and diplomatic activities along with implementation and enforcement of law and order.
Its formal motto has been historically, "Plus Ultra" (Latin: further beyond); but more recently, and as part of a public media campaign in the 2000s, the additional slogan "Protecting the blue of our flag" (Spanish: Protegemos el azul de la bandera) became known and has been adopted institutionally as well, perhaps as a result of being a more relatable catchphrase to the public than the formal Latin motto.
Its former slogan was "Sailing our pride" (Spanish: Navega nuestra orgullo).
The history of the Colombian Navy is closely tied to, and somewhat reflects the history of Colombia itself: from its birth at the Declaration of Independence from Spain, the subsequent ups and downs throughout a later 19th century rife with civil wars, a 20th-century where it slowly starts asserting itself only to be challenged by the internal conflict and drug traffic of the later decades, to a Navy that is now reaching a more mature and modern shape, much like the country it protects.
19th Century and Origins
The Colombian Navy celebrates its birthday on July 24, the anniversary of the Battle of Lake Maracaibo fought on July 24, 1823, which was the last large naval battle of the Spanish American wars of independence and helped cement the South American independence. But the roots of the Navy can be traced 13 years back, to 1810, just a few weeks after the Colombian Declaration of Independence of July 20, 1810. The president of the Supreme Board of Cartagena, José María García de Toledo, created the Naval Command Office (Spanish: Comandancia General de Marina) by means of a decree dated September 17, 1810. The Navy was placed under the command of Captain Juan Nepomuceno Eslava, junior son of the (former) Spanish Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava. During this period, the young navy operated mostly with small schooners, either acquired directly or by provinding letters of marque to friendly captains which then operated as part or on behalf of the navy. Some of these captains would obtain later renown during the independence war, like Luis Brión and Renato Beluche. This small navy was effective in limited operations intercepting Spanish ships, but was not strong enough to attack port cities, as evidenced by the failed attacks to Santa Marta (1813) and Portobelo (1814).
During 1815, a Spanish army headed by Pablo Morillo besieged Cartagena, as the first step of its "Pacifying Expedition" (Spanish: Expedición Pacificadora). The five-month siege was so harsh that earned the city its title of "Heroic" (Spanish: La Heróica). The small independent navy was impotent against the large fleet commanded by Morillo, but nevertheless managed some daring actions, in particular that of Luis Brión, who attempted to run the blockade with his corvette "Dardo" with a load of guns and powder to the city before fleeing again to Haiti. In 1816, Bolívar attempted his first campaign, the Cayos expedition (Spanish: Expedición de Los Cayos) sailing from Haiti with seven schooners and corvettes: the "Bolivar", the "Mariño", the "Piar", the "Constitución", the "Brión", the "Fénix" and the "Conejo". But this expedition fizzled out due to infighting amongst its generals shortly after the liberation of Margarita Island.
It is only after the Liberation Campaign of 1819 that General Francisco de Paula Santander created the Naval School on June 28, 1822, and additional decrees to the provision of the navy. Admiral Jose Prudencio Padilla would go on reorganizing and building the fleet, to support Bolívar's plans for the campaign of Zulia and the complete liberation of the East. This fleet would be then engaged in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo which crushed the Spanish naval aspirations in South America. In 1824 the first – and only – 8 cadet officers graduate from naval school. In March 3, 1826, the Ministry of the Navy is created, with Lino de Clemente as minister. By 1826, both from bought and captured vessels, the Colombian Navy had become a respectable force, commanding a relatively large number of ships, including 1 ship of the line, 1 frigate, 6 corvettes, 5 brigantines, 10 schooners, 13 gunboats and multiple minor vessels.
But the fledgling government was strapped financially, and in a decree of December 7, 1826, Bolívar decommissioned the Naval school, removed the Ministry of the Navy and slashed the budget for all navy and marine affairs by more than half. This would be a punch that the Navy would not recover from for almost a hundred years. The incipient navy of 1825 would see its ships slowly sold, scrapped or abandoned, and by the late 1830s there would be no more than a handful of serviceable ships, mostly assigned to the land Army.
During the rest of the 19th century, there was no formal navy to speak of. Some vessels and naval units were assigned to the Army, and throughout the Civil wars of the 1880s, some transport vessels are hurriedly bought, and similarly disposed of, but no formal navy appeared.
Early 20th century
By 1907, when President Rafael Reyes Prieto created the Naval Academy, through decree 783 of July 6, 1907 only to be closed off yet again by his successor, Ramón González Valencia on December 28, 1909.
The conflict with Peru in 1932 made the Colombian Navy reappear, this time to stay. New ships were acquired and the "Escuela de Grumetes" (Navy Sailors School) was founded in 1934 and the "Escuela de Cadetes" (Navy Officers School) was founded in 1935. Nowadays both schools continue their work of instructing the Colombian men and women of the sea.
World War II
During World War II, Colombia initially declared its neutrality, but nevertheless leaned towards the Allied cause; between 1939 and 1941 nothing much changed either in political relations nor in the sea, as the war was seen as a mostly European issue. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 1941 changed things somewhat and prompted Colombia to break diplomatic relations with the Axis countries, but not to formally declare war. By 1942 the Colombian Navy finds itself performing regular patrols in the Caribbean -something that was only occasionally done in the years previous to the war- due to German U-Boats marauding the Panama Canal access routes, mostly hunting for American and British vessels entering or leaving the canal.
These German hunting runs, despite the Colombian Navy patrols, eventually resulted in the sinking of three Colombian ships during 1942–43, under circumstances that were never fully cleared up. The three vessels were: Resolute, a 52-tonne schooner sunk on June 23, 1942, by the U-172; Roamar (originally registered as Urious), a 110-tonne schooner sunk on July 27, 1942, by U-505 and finally, Rubby, a 39-tonne schooner sunk on November 1, 1943, by the German submarine U-516. The "Rubby" was the last straw and on November 23, 1943 Colombia formally declared a 'belligerent status' against Germany and the other Axis powers and as a result the Colombian Navy significantly stepped up its presence in the Caribbean after this date and throughout the rest of the war.
Perhaps the most well-known engagement of the Colombian Navy during the war occurred on March 29, 1944, as the tanker MC Cabimas was en route from Cartagena to Panama City escorted by the destroyer ARC Caldas, the latter under the command of Captain Federico Díaz Diago. Around 8:00 pm, the Caldas detected the periscope of a U-boat and proceeded to engage it with cannon fire and depth charges. Later accounts identified this U-boat as the German submarine U-154. While badly shaken and perhaps damaged, the U-154 managed to escape, and was finally sunk four months later in another engagement with USS Frost and USS Inch. For his quick reaction in defence of the national seas, Captain Díaz Diago was later decorated by the Colombian government.
Colombia was signatory to the Declaration by United Nations in 1943, and one of the original 51 signatory countries to the UN creation at the San Francisco Conference. As such, when the Korean War erupted, and the UN Security Council issued S/RES/83 : Complaint of aggression upon the Republic of Korea and decided the formation and dispatch of the U.N. Forces in Korea, Colombia was the only sovereign country in Latin America that stepped forward with its help, by offering its only Frigate at the time (afterwards, Colombia also provided an infantry battalion). This act, and the subsequent effort and sacrifice of the Colombian troops and sailors on the defense of South Korea have made the relationship between South Korea and Colombia much closer ever since. The Colombian forces deployed in Korea became known as the Colombian Battalion.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there were multiple opinions in the US about accepting this help: On the one side, the State Department wanted to make sure the UN-sponsored operation had indeed the collaboration of multiple countries, the Treasury viewed it with disbelief and worried about the underlying extra cost that such 'help' would likely represent and might need to be paid by the US in the end, and the Defense Department wanted as much external help as possible, while also losing sleep about the logistics nightmare of integrating foreign units with little knowledge of its standards and even the language. Finally, the Colombian offer was accepted, and with Government Decree 3230 of October 23, 1950, Colombia's participation becomes formal and the Navy Ops Chief would receive orders to incorporate the Colombian frigate to the Order of Battle, under the 7th Fleet's Task Force 95. Eventually, Colombia provided three frigates that would rotate their service throughout 1951–1955.
The Frigate ARC Almirante Padilla took to sea on November 1, 1950 under command of CC Julio Cesar Reyes Canal, stopping at San Diego, CA for fitting and then at Hawaii for operations training with the US Navy, finally reaching its destination at the Korean coast on May 14, 1951. The "Padilla" performed operations with the escort groups GT95.5 and Blockade GT95.2, participated in the coast bombardment at Wonsan and patrol runs at Wonsan, Seongjin and the islands of Cho-Do and Seok-Do; it finished its first tour on January 19, 1952.
The Frigate ARC Capitán Tono, under command of CC Hernando Berón Victoria replaced the Padilla on that January, and performed patrol and coast operations also around Wonsan and Seongjin, and submarine patrol around the Sasebo naval base; it received the ROK Merit medal for its support to the naval operations in the area; it finished its first tour on November 12, 1952.
The Frigate ARC Almirante Brión, under command of CC Carlos Prieto Silva formally relieved the Capitán Tono on November 1952, however it only arrived in the area by June 1953, as it had to be refitted in Japan due to some damages during its previous tour as USS Burlington. It performed patrols at the same areas as its sister ships and would finish its first tour on May 17, 1954.
An uncommon detail about the 2 newer frigates, Tono and Brión is that they were both already in the region after serving in WWII first with the US Navy and then the Soviet Navy under the Lend-Lease program and the secret Project Hula; they were returned to the US Navy at Japan in 1949; they sailed in the Korean theater with the US Navy during 1950–1951 before being acquired by the Colombian Navy at Japan under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program so their crews had to be sent to Japan by different means, and the ships themselves never saw the Colombian coast until their arrival to the country after the war effort in 1955, so the Colombian Navy started the campaign with only one frigate, but finished it with three.
All three frigates continued their service tours, until October 1955, and distinguished themselves in their duty along with other units from United States, Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, amongst others.
Anti-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa
On 27 July 2015, the Colombian off-shore patrol vessel ARC 7 de Agosto set sail from the port city of Cartagena de Indias to take part in both Operation Atalanta and Operation Ocean Shield. During the operations, the Colombian Navy monitored over 400 watercraft near the coast of Somalia. The operations also saw an opportunity for the Colombian Navy patrol vessel to perform naval exercises with other navies taking part in the surveillance efforts; amongst them where the FGS Hyanë and FGS Erfurt of the German Navy, the SPS Galicia, the SPS Victoria, and the BAM Meteoro of the Spanish Navy, the DD Akizuki of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and the HDMS Absalon of the Royal Danish Navy. While stationed on Victoria, Seychelles, the crew aboard the ARC 7 de Agosto also instructed and shared information, with members of the Seychelles Coast Guard and Maritime Police, on structural and naval operations.
Engagements and Conflicts
The Navy is part of the executive branch of the Colombian Government, the President of Colombia being the commander-in-chief of all military forces, via the civilian Minister of Defense, and the General Commander of Military Forces (Spanish: Comandante General Fuerzas Militares), who is a senior officer appointed by the president from any of the 3 services (Army, Air Force or Navy). The most senior officer organic to the Navy is the Commander of the Navy (Spanish: Comandante de la Armada Nacional).
Forces and Commands
The Colombian Navy operates with 8 specialized forces or commands across the territory:
Naval educational institutions
Along with the 7 operational commands above, the Colombian Navy maintains 3 major training schools for its personnel:
The Navy also has 12 other post graduate schools aimed at sharpening and intensifying the needed capacities and personnel of the various naval services and the Marine Corps.
The ARC maintains a number of major bases in both Caribbean and Pacific littorals, as well as multiple operational riverine bases scattered over the territory.
The principal naval bases are:
some of the more important operational bases are:
In 2013, the Colombian Navy had approximately 35,000 personnel, including roughly 22,000 Marine Infantry, 8,000 sailors and NCOs, 2,500 Officers, 1,300 personnel in training and some 2,000 civilians (these usually deployed to specialty technical or medical posts).
Ranks & Insignias
The tables below display the rank structures and rank insignias for the Colombian Navy personnel.
In keeping with its 3 major operational scenarios: blue-water operations, littoral/riverine operations and coast guard, the ARC maintains a mix of ships suited to each of those profiles. The scope of its operation has been historically oriented towards lightly armed coastal patrol, and as such, the majority of its vessels had been usually mid-size cutters. Traditionally, the ARC has had strong ties to the American and German navies and shipbuilders and much of its equipment traces its roots to them.
Similar to other navies in the Latin-American region, the Colombian Navy acquired many vessels in the postwar years of the 50s and 60s, usually as war surplus from the US Navy, and then went through a somewhat dormant period during the 60s to 80s, during which few major acquisitions were performed.
In more recent years, the Colombian Navy has seen two major periods of upgrading and modernization of its equipment:
The first period, as a result of the rise of the drug trade in the late 70s and 80s as well as, at the time, increased political tensions in the Caribbean due to territorial disputes with some of its neighbors -with Nicaragua over the San Andres archipelago and with Venezuela over the Los Monjes Archipelago- saw the need for a stronger caribbean patrol force, and resulted in the acquisition of its biggest vessels to date, 4 missile corvettes ( later upgraded to light frigates ) in 1983 as well as some additional patrol craft.
The second period, as a consequence of the deepening in the internal Colombian conflict, started in the late 1990s and extended over to 2005–2006, provided strengthening of its riverine and littoral capabilities, involving R&D for new indigenous designs in collaboration with the state-owned Cotecmar shipyards that resulted in new types of vessels such as the state-of-the-art Riverine Support Patrol Boats (Spanish: Patrullera de Apoyo Fluvial, "PAF"), also called "riverine mothership" (Spanish: Nodriza Fluvial) like the ARC Juan Ricardo Oyola Vera (NF-613) which have drawn the eye of other navies with similar requirements.
Currently, the ARC is working on additional medium and long-term programs, including the development and acquisition of a number of Coastal Patrol Vessels (Fassmer CPV-40) in 2011–2012, 2 Oceanic Oceanic Patrol Vessels (Fassmer OPV-80) (2011–2013), and the R&D of an indigenous corvette or frigate-class vessel ("Plataforma Estratégica de Superficie"), planned towards 2018–2020.
7 October 2011, South Korea is to donate a recently retired Pohang class corvette to Colombia as part of a drive to boost arms exports to the South American region. An-Yang (PCC-755) was decommissioned by the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) on 29 September, having been active for some 28 years since entering service in 1983.
The Navy Aviation Command operates approximately 17 fixed and rotary wing aircraft for naval surveillance and patrol, Search and Rescue (SAR), and logistical support of naval facilities and operations.