On Wednesday the latest incorporation to the Argentine navy will be docking in Buenos Aires, the OPV ARA Bouchard. The Ocean Patrol Vessel is the first of four to be delivered by the Naval Group shipyard, purchased from France by Argentina, and which left Toulon two weeks ago.
The purchase was authorized by the previous Argentina government of president Mauricio Macri, a 320 million Euros contract, including ARA Bouchard formerly the French Navy L'Adroit, and three new vessels under construction belonging to the Gowind OPV class. The fourth unit will be delivered in 2022.
The purpose of the purchase is to protect Argentina's EEZ and marine resources as well as strategic interests and involvement in SAR operations.
ARA Bouchard is equipped with a Polaris combat system, including a 30mm cannon and two heavy 12.7 mm machine guns. The OPV has an autonomy of 8.000 nautical miles and has reinforced hull to sail in Antarctica waters.
The reception ceremony will be headed by cabinet chief Santiago Cafiero, Defense minister Agustín Rossi, top naval officers and R/A David Burden, head of purchase equipment and who was responsible for the terms of the purchase.
From Buenos Aires ARA Bouchard will sail to Mar del Plata base from where South Atlantic vessels operate.
The main objective of the new naval equipment is to keep track and control of the hundreds of fishing vessels operating in Mile 201 zone, an activity with little controls or regulations. Argentina fisheries research institute, Inidep believes the country loses anywhere from US$ 800 million to US$ 1.2billion to the illegal fishing.
Argentine media recalls that when current foreign minister Felipe Solá was Agriculture and fisheries minister in the nineties, he signed an agreement with the Navy to increase naval patrolling in the South Atlantic and provided ample funds for that purpose.