Chile has launched the third of five offshore patrol vessels for the Chilean Navy Coast Guard. (Chilean Navy)
SANTIAGO — Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (ASMAR), a state-owned shipyard under administration of the Chilean Navy, has launched its third 1,800-ton offshore patrol vessel (OPV) of the Piloto Pardo Class, built in the shipbuilder’s main facilities at Talcahuano, in the south of Chile.
The ship, named OPV 83 “Marinero Fuentealba,” was christened and placed in the water Thursday, in a ceremony that was attended by Defense Minister Jorge Burgos and Adm. Enrique Larrañaga, commander in chief of the Navy. .
The ship will now undergo a fitting-out phase and be commissioned by the end of this year.
ASMAR is building five OPVs for the Chilean Navy Coast Guard, using a version adapted from German shipbuilder Fassmer.
With a length of 80.6 meters, the class will have a top speed of 22 knots and be able to stay on patrol for 30 days with a range of 8,000 nautical miles.
The ships have flight deck and hangar for a medium weight helicopter, and usually carry an AS365 Dauphin 2 onboard.
Two other patrol ships have been built and delivered in 2007 and 2009, but production was interrupted when the ASMAR facilities in Talcahuano were seriously damaged by an earthquake and tsunami that affected central and southern Chile in February 2010.
The vessel differs from her sister ships in that her hull is reinforced for Antarctic operations, and she will be armed with a 76mm gun from Oto Melara instead of a twin 40mm from Bofors.
The original plan, launched in 2004, was to build the same basic OPV in Chile and Argentina and fulfill requirements in both countries at a lower cost by sharing design and component procurement. An agreement was signed but budget was never made available by the Argentine authorities.
Colombia also adopted the same Fassmer OPV design and local shipbuilder COTECMAR has completed two vessels of the type for the Colombian Navy, with plans to produce four ships.