Argentina's Navy announced this week that the French-built logistics vessel ARA Patagonia was back at sea after a total refit, major repairs, and the replacement of numerous elements and parts at the No. 1 careening dock of the Arsenal Naval Puerto Belgrano and under the management of the Tandanor shipyards.
Among the repairs were the reconditioning of hull valves and new piping while work was also performed on the boiler and the drinking water and ballast tanks, in addition to the refurbishing of the refueling systems, the hangar, the command bridge, and full hull painting.
The ARA Patagonia belongs to the Amphibious and Logistic Naval Command (COAL). She displaces 17,800 tons, with a length of 158 meters and a fuel capacity of 9,600,000 liters, meaning a system that expands and enhances the operational capabilities of the Sea Fleet, by refueling combat ships on the high seas.
The vessel is equipped with RAS -Replenishment at Sea- and VERTREP -Vertical Replenishment- capabilities for maneuvers to transfer liquids and fuel to other vessels swiftly and in navigation, thus extending the patrol time at sea.
The design of the Durance class included the construction of a platform for the operation of helicopters in VERTREP (VERTical REPlenishment) work, which consists of loads transported with helicopters.
Originally designed and conceived for the Marine Nationale (France) as head of the Durance class (A629) supply ships, the ARA Patagonia was built by Arsenal de Brest and was laid down in 1973, launched on 6 September 1975 and commissioned in 1977 as Pétrolier Revitailleur d'Escadre (BRE).
She was decommissioned on December 5, 1997, with 559,939 nautical miles sailed. In 1999 she was acquired by the Argentine Navy to extend the range of the Sea Fleet to 6000 nautical miles.
On August 29 that year, she entered dry dock at the Puerto Belgrano Naval Arsenal for a general overhaul of the hull and the diesel engines, generators, and electro-hydraulic equipment. She became seaworthy once again on June 13, 2000.
The ARA Patagonia has participated in the Antarctic Summer Campaigns, resupplying Argentine Navy ships (chiefly the icebreaker ARA Almirante Irízar) at the Ushuaia Naval Base.
On board the Patagonia, some 30 Argentine and Chilean lawmakers celebrated in 2005 the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between both countries.