The lack of funds allocation for a proper operation and maintenance of the Argentine fleet is compromising some of its main combatants. Talks are in place of decommissioning two Sea Fleet’s ships, Destroyer ARA “Heroina” and Corvette ARA “Rosales”.
The ARA “Heroina” is a 126mts long, West Germany built, MEKO 360H2 frigate with a full load displacement of 4100 tons with a hangar for two medium helicopters. Commissioned in Nov 1983, with provisions for 8 MBDA MM-40 Exocet anti-ship missiles, up to 24 Alenia Aspide anti-air missiles in an 8 cell Albatros launcher (with auto reload). Has a single 5” Oto Melara gun and four twin barrel guns Breda Bofors 40L70. A DA-08 air search radar and both WM-25 and STIR 180 fire controls with Atlas Elektronik 80 (DSQS-21BZ) sonar with port and starboard triple TLT provisions, are integrated in a Signaal SEWACO tactical command system.
These frigates have a Combined Gas or Gas (COGOG) propulsion system, comprised of a pair of Rolls Royce Olympus gas turbines for high performance and a pair of Rolls Royce Tyne gas turbines for cruising. An embargo was imposed by the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the South Atlantic Conflict of 1982 but as money continued to get to the Navy, there was no shortage of spares. Decades later, this embargo was being lifted progressively until diplomatic escalation between argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and prime minister David Cameron produced an export control resolution by Her Majesty’s Government to limit any import of goods to repair or upgrade and export of these and/or new products with the argentine armed forces as end user, in cases that could be detrimental to UK’s defense and security interests. None the less, upon improving bilateral relations since the Macri administration took office, a request to lift such a restriction “on a case-by-case criteria” was provisioned by Sir Alan Duncan in June 2018.
This past decade, a critical component of the ship’s gearbox had been damaged, and the Navy decided to export it back to the UK to be repaired or replaced. It was automatically seized by the UK Customs and as of yet has not been recovered. Such a situation combined by the ever-increasing budget cuts left the “Heroina” stranded at its home port. Right after that, many components and electronics were removed for conservation purposes and even were cannibalized for spares, this is allegedly turning the recommissioning of the frigate both unlikely and costly, something similar happened to the “Rosales” corvette.
The ARA “Rosales” is a 91 mts long, argentine built, MEKO 140 corvette with a full load displacement of 1790 tons. Commissioned in Nov 1986, with provisions for 4 MBDA MM-38 Exocet anti-ship missiles. Has a single 76/62 mm Oto Melara gun and two twin barrel guns Breda Bofors 40L70. A DA-05 air search radar and a WM-22 fire control with also an Atlas Elektronik ASO-4 sonar with port and starboard triple TLT provisions, are integrated in a Signaal SEWACO tactical command system.
Apparently damage to its diesel engines and propeller shafts would deem costly and complicated to repair, especially after an extensive repair performed on the ARA “Espora” after she collided with a commercial ship in Bahia Blanca when moored. Plans were made both to support in the long term all the available surface ships and progressively replace obsolete components but with very little improvements, instead, by servicing locally as much as possible.
These plans add to the fact of the future scraping of the A-69 corvettes to be replaced by the Bouchard class OPV’s currently built by Naval Group. ATA/ATF WWII tugs are also in decommissioning stage after reception of the Neftegaz class ships in late 2015. The remaining T-42 air defense frigate, ARA "Hercules", with its Sea Dart air defense system removed, is also being written off. Other programs are also under scrutiny since an overhaul of the existing P-3B maritime patrol aircraft is still incomplete and recently purchased Super Etendard Modernise (SEM) aircraft have been received after decommissioned in 2016 by the French Navy. A batch of spares and consumables was also included to bring back to service these 5 aircraft and contribute to recover the remaining 10 from argentine inventory but since no actual budget for that had been forecasted, the funding was placed for other operational needs, a common practice upon insufficient budget. The sinking of the ARA "San Juan" submarine itself left the Argentine Navy with no submarine force and demonstrated its current lack of training and experience compared to 15 to 30 years earlier.
This very situation happened itself in 2002 after the 2001 financial crash but was prevented, will the Argentine Navy have the same luck twice? Many think they won’t. For the time being, the Argentine Navy is consistently turning from a blue water navy to a brown water one, if no corrective measures are taken, this will only continue to fall towards the shoreline.