The Peruvian Navy coordinated the fifth edition of the Warships & Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Conference Latin America 2016. The international conference helps create business opportunities and investment agreements for fleet modernization to confront probable threats.
For three days, officers from the navies of Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Canada met in the city of Lima, Peru, to exchange knowledge on vessel acquisition and operational communications, as well as the development of combat-support, patrol, and surveillance vessels.
Representatives from shipyards, defense companies and producers, as well as officers from the Peruvian Armed Forces, the National Police, and officers from the navies and naval projects from the navies of Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, and Honduras, among others, attended.
OPV Latin America allowed for direct interaction between manufacturers and their end-users. The annual event was an initiative of Defence IQ, a British organization, and Peru’s Naval Association of Surface Officers in coordination with the Peruvian Navy. Previous editions were held in Brazil in 2012 and 2013, Colombia in 2014, and Ecuador last year.
European and U.S. defense firms learned requirements for building new vessels. Naval engineers, who participate in the design and construction process for several projects, saw current technologies for surface platforms, both for frigates and OPVs.
Admiral Jorge Montoya Manrique, former commander of the Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces and president of Peru’s Naval Association of Surface Officers told Diálogo: “it is in every country’s national interest to have a naval industry that is vigorous, self-sustaining, and sustainable over time. Countries require a fleet with deterrence capability, which is efficient, and which has the relevant speed to protect the exclusive economic zones of each country, as well as to combat drug trafficking and illegal fishing, and using OPVs for these functions is more economic.”
For Peru, modernizing its squadron is important because its fleet is more than 30 years old. The Peruvian Navy plans to acquire six frigates and four OPVs to combat drug trafficking organizations and confront future challenges.
“Peru is in the process of defining the surface platform that will replace the frigates and corvettes. The modernization program, which is projected to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years, includes the acquisition of OPV units, small patrol boats, and frigates, so that Peru’s Navy can successfully complete its defense missions,” Adm. Montoya said.
During the event, according to the Peruvian Navy, Latin American officers dealt with topics such as “How Technology Transfers its Support to Plans and Modernization of the Peruvian Navy;” “Challenges and Prospects for the Construction of Mexican Naval Vessels;” and “Honduran OPV Fleet and High-Security Boats.”
“Among new technologies, we need to select robust propulsion systems that require long periods of time between scheduled maintenance; the latest technology in arms systems; medium and long-range radars; anti-aircraft missiles; and rocket-assisted cannons for future vessels,” Adm. Montoya continued.
As reported in the TV program Noti Naval on June 30th, Rear Admiral (r) Carlos de Izcue Arnillas, commercial manager of Peru’s state-run shipyard Marine Industrial Services (SIMA, for its Spanish acronym), said, “We need to transfer technology, knowledge, and experiences so that we can be up to the challenge, which is no longer just national but also regional and global.”
The Peruvian Navy is committed to an important fleet modernization program that will be developed over the next 10 to 15 years. It is building four to 10 small patrol-type units with 500 metric tons of displacement. These units are useful for operations close to the coast. The Navy also plans to modernize and modify its corvettes as patrol boats.
“Honduras, like us and all the countries of the region, has a problem controlling illicit activity related to drug trafficking. The Honduran Navy (FNH, for its Spanish acronym) is looking to build lighter patrol boats, not very big and with less tonnage,” Adm. Montoya explained. “Mexico has a project to construct 60 vessels of this type.”
The Honduran Government plans to acquire an OPV-80 to patrol its exclusive economic zone. In April, the FNH announced the acquisition of a BAL-C Short Range Logistic Support Ship from Colombia’s state-run shipyard, Science and Technology Corporation for the Development of the Naval, Maritime, and Riverine Industry.
Through phases I and II of Plan Orion, Colombia has modernized its FS-1500 Padilla Class frigates and has begun a program to construct OPVs. Brazil’s Plan Propuser has not yet started due to budgetary problems. Chile has acquired used frigates and modernized them, according to a report from the Infodefensa website.
The international conference attendees took a tour through the SIMA shipyard facilities and observed a maritime interdiction exercise that the Peruvian Navy organized exclusively for the participants.
“This type of event [Warships & OPV Conference Latin America] allows us to share and understand issues, and that is fundamental for countries like ours, which is trying to grow its state-run naval industry SIMA,” said Rear Admiral Silvio Alva Villamón, executive director of SIMA. “And this discussion is doubly important in Peru because there is an opportunity for other members of the national industry’s productive apparatus to participate in and understand the importance of the naval industry.”
Peru has undertaken various naval construction projects in the past five years. Notable among them is the manufacture of various riverine combat units; maritime and coastal patrol boats; Itinerant Social Action Platforms (PIAS, for its Spanish acronym), which provide medical assistance and social programs to residents of the Amazon jungle; the Navy’s first multipurpose vessel, called Varayoc; and the Unión training ship, the largest vessel of its kind in Latin America.