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Uruguay looks to Spain for new OPVs

20th July 2023 - 10:30 GMT | by Wilder Alejandro Sanchez in Washington DC

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The two new OPVS are planned to be delivered through 2025. (Photo: Uruguayan Ministry of Defence)

The Uruguayan Navy may finally receive two new offshore patrol vessels to revamp its ageing surface fleet.

On 17 July, the Uruguayan Minister of Defence Javier García announced the selection of an offer by the Spanish shipyard Cardama for two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), expected to be delivered throughout 2025.

According to Montevideo, the price of the two OPVs is  $92.3 million (€82.2 million). 

‘Today we have sent this purchase decision to the Court of Auditors,’ García explained; the Court will be tasked with finalising negotiations for the contract. 

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‘If everything goes according to plan, [the first platform] will be delivered in the first months of 2025. Within the first trimester of 2025,’ García said, adding ‘the second [ship will arrive] by the end of 2025.’ 

Montevideo had previously shown interest in OPVs from China.

The Spanish-made platforms will reportedly displace 1,700 tons, have a length of 86 m, and carry a primary 30 mm cannon & secondary 12.7 mm guns. 

The ships can also transport one helicopter and two speedboats.

With an average ship age of ‘55 to 60 years,’ according to García, the Uruguayan Navy operates one of the oldest, if not the oldest, surface fleets in South America. 

The fleet’s flagship is the Luneburg-class ROU 04 General Artigas logistics vessel, manufactured in the 1960s. 

Shephard previously reported on the status of the fleet, including the 2022 decommissioning of the Joao Belo-class frigate Uruguay, Cape-class coast guard vessel ROU 10 Colonia, patrol boat ROU 12 Paysandú, and scientific vessel ROU 22 Oyarvide, 

Regarding recent acquisitions, the Navy now operates three Marine Protector-class vessels donated by Washington and previously utilised by the US Coast Guard. 

The three ships – ROU 14 Río Arapey, ROU 15 Río de la Plata, and ROU 16 Río Yaguarón – arrived in Montevideo in November 2022 after departing from Baltimore.

Moreover, in July 2022, Uruguay also announced the donation by South Korea of a Chamsuri-class Patrol Killer Medium (PKM) vessel. 

During his 17 July remarks, the Uruguayan Defence Minister noted, ‘We hope that soon, we are doing the paperwork, a ship donated by Korea’ will be transferred.

Wilder Alejandro Sanchez

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Wilder Alejandro Sanchez


Wilder Alejandro Sánchez is an analyst who covers defense & security, geopolitical, and trade issues …

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