Uruguay's Ministry of Defense will now have to weigh three bids from manufacturers of Dutch, French, and Chinese origin who are interested in selling two Ocean Patrol Vessels (OPV) to the South American country's Navy, it was announced Monday in Montevideo after the tender was opened.
Each bidder had made the US$ 1.2 million deposit, it was reported.
A technical committee will be in charge of analyzing the options, while two other committees are working together, according to an announcement made in December by President Luis Lacalle Pou.
One committee has advisory functions, with representation from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Economy. The other is a follow-up commission, which was formed within the Ministry and includes a representative of the Frente Amplio to provide more guarantees.
During that event, which was also attended by Defense Undersecretary Rivera Elgue and National Navy Commander in Chief Jorge Wilson, Lacalle Pou announced the call for the acquisition of two ocean patrols and stressed that it was an imperative need for the care of our seas.
Lacalle highlighted the country's shortage of equipment.
Defense Minister Javier Garcia also said there would be two processes. One for brand new OPVs and another for used ones.
Our will is to go for the first one, but, eventually, it will be evaluated according to the proposals, stated García. The first vessel is expected to be available by June 2024 and the second was encouraged to follow as quickly as possible.
We talked years ago that Uruguay was on the verge of not defending the seas, due to the critical equipment situation, García said.
Less than two years after taking office, a great effort is being made to be able to make the investment and start a renewal process, he added.
He also pointed out the current fleet was 50 years old or more and that they are on the verge of ceasing to sail, and those that do sail do so with great difficulty.
To make matters worse for Uruguay's Navy, the new engines ordered from Germany to replace those of the ROU 04 General Artigas were built according to measurements sent from the South American country, which turned out not to be the ones the vessel needed.
The ROU 04 General Artigas is a 4,000-ton ship, currently the largest unit in the Uruguayan Navy, measuring 118 meters long by 14 meters wide and 4.30 meters deep. It was built in Germany for its Navy in the 1970s when it was called FGS Freiburg.
It was hoped that the installation of engines made by a German shipyard would make the ship operational again by mid-2021. However, there was an error in sending the measurements and, when the engines arrived from Europe, they were not suitable for the vessel.