Argentina's latest Ocean Patrol Vessel, OPV, ARA Piedrabunea (P52), arrived at Mar del Plata where it was received in a ceremony headed by defence minister Agustín Rossi, the head of the Navy V/A Julio Horacio Guardia plus top military and government officials
Previously to docking, there was a naval parade which included the new OPV, the other OPV, ARA Bouchard, the Granville corvette and the frigate Libertad. ARA Piedrabuena was then officially incorporated into the navy´s Maritime Patrolling Division, with Malvinas veterans and former crew members of the Piedrabunea destroyer handing the war flag, blessed by the military chaplain, to the captain of the new OPV Patricio Gaston Vega.
Navy chief V/A Guardia in a brief speech congratulated and thanked the officers and crew for bringing the new vessel from France, twenty days sailing, and underlined that the new OPV, together with the two others to be delivered in coming months, Storni and Cordero are part of the first project to incorporate new units in the last forty years since the construction of the MEKO 130 corvettes.
The arrival of Piedrabuena is evidence of the projects we are addressing. We trust in the instruments that have been put in motion, particularly the Defense National Fund, which is allowing the milestone of the updating and modernization of the country's naval capacity.
Then addressing Captain Vega the navy chief said, I congratulate you for having accomplished the mission of bringing the vessel to its base. It has been a deployment of over four months to prepare and train, complying with sea tests and the twenty days course, a demonstration of how demanding the service to the country is.
Finally, minister Rossi pointed out that the new OPV will strengthen the navy's capacity in all vigilance and control duties of our extensive maritime front ensuring our presence in the 200 miles EEZ.
OPVs Bouchard and Piedrabuena are part of a lot of four acquired in France during the previous government of President Mauricio Macri. While Bouchard, the first to be delivered belonged to the French navy and was refurbished, Piedrabuena and the other two are completely new and built by the Naval Group in Concarneau. They belong to the Kership Class, 1,450 tons displacement, 87 meters long, 13,6 meters beam and 3,8 meters draft. They are manned by a core crew of 30, with additional facilities for 29 troops; they have autonomy of 7,500 nautical miles at 12 knots speed.
The Piedrabuena has a reinforced hull which enables it to break through 40 centimetres thick ice. It carries two semi-rigid boats to board and inspect fishing vessels, and a landing pad for a ten-ton helicopter. It is equipped with a 30mm cannon and two 12.7 mm machine guns.