Uruguay to buy two new offshore patrol vessels

Uruguay’s president Luis Lacalle Pou has revealed that the country plans to buy two offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for around $100 million.

The president informed that a tender process will soon be opened and that the current administration will pay $50 million while the rest of the money will be paid in the next ten years.

Taking into account these two OPVs and the three Marine Protector-class boats that the country will receive from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), there will be five vessels that will soon be integrated into the navy’s fleet, according to the president.

“It is a very important milestone from the point of view of our sovereignty, the care for the territorial sea, the autonomy and displacement that our navy may have,” the president commented.

“This is a historic figure from the budgetary point of view,” Minister of Defense Javier García added. He also pointed out that “this is a process that is historic because of the volume of investment and the quality of the vessels that are going to be acquired.”

The country expects that the first vessel should be delivered by June 2024. Deliveries are encouraged to be as close together as possible, but “the first one has to be unfailingly delivered on that date because construction starts after the contract is signed,” the minister emphasized.

The Uruguayan Navy plans to modernize its aging fleet through these new acquisitions, including USCG’s Protector-class vessels.

The USCG’s 27-meter long Marine Protector-class vessels have a range of 900 nautical miles, a top speed of 25 knots, and served in the United States on missions including homeland security, combating drug smuggling, immigration enforcement, marine fisheries enforcement and search and rescue support.

The ships are designed to accommodate crews of mixed gender with five separate small berthing spaces and maximum berthing for 12. Each ship will include a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) that can be launched from the stern of the larger vessel via an innovative launch and recovery system.

This capability allows for crews to quickly intercept, inspect and/or board other vessels while on patrol without stopping. The three specific vessels that Uruguay will receive, now decommissioned by the USCG, were homeported in Connecticut, Virginia, and Florida.