Ships of Pan-America
The Argentine Navy was founded in 1810, the year Argentina started its May Revolution to gain independence from Spain. During its struggle for independence, the navy saw a major victory over Spain at the Battle of Buceo in 1814 which has since been declared Navy Day and is a national holiday in Argentina. It saw action again against Brazil during the Cisplatine War in 1825.
Argentina modernized its fleet in the 1870s and by the turn of the twentieth century was a leading naval power in South America. It saw action in 1982 against the Royal Navy during the Falklands War, but saw a major defeat for Argentina and heavy casualties on the Argentine Fleet. The Navy has modernized since the end of the conflict but still has issues with equipment and manning. Nevertheless, it remains a capable force in the region.
The Brazilian Navy was founded in 1822, the year Brazil declared independence from Portugal. During Brazil's war for independence, the new Imperial Brazilian Navy clashed with the Portuguese fleet several times before achieving independence. In 1825 territorial disputes with Argentina saw the navy called into action again during the Cisplatine War. During the war a major victory was achieved in 1827 during the Battle of Monte Santiago.
As the nineteenth century went on, Brazil grew to be a major power in South America and had one of the leading navies in the region. Brazil would use its navy to intervene in several South American conflicts. On June 11, 1864 the Battle of Riachuelo between the Paraguayan Navy and the Brazilian Imperial Navy was the biggest naval battle between South American countries, and the Brazilian victory marked June 11 as the Brazilian Navy day.
In 1889 the Brazilian monarchy was overthrown and replaced with a republic. By the turn of the century Brazil had become a major naval power. In 1906 Brazil ordered from a British shipyard the two most powerful Dreadnoughts in the world, Minas Gerais and São Paulo which were delivered in 1910, thus opening the naval arms race of South America. The Brazilian Navy was used in a light capacity in both World War I & World War II, mostly as convoy escort duty and anti-submarine warfare. In World War II it played an important role in the defense of allied convoys in the South Atlantic during the Battle of the Atlantic. Brazil continued to modernize its fleet after World War II, and in 1960 saw a naval standoff against France over lobster fishing rights.
Today, Brazil remains a major naval power and has the second most powerful navy in the Americas, second only to the United States.
The Chilean Navy was founded in 1817 during Chile's War of Independence. As Chile continued to fight against Spain on land, Chilean general Bernado O'Higgins ordered a navy formed since victory would not be possible if Chile could not control the sea. The first Chilean naval squadron was formed with a handful of ships. The squadron was very successful in engagements against the Spanish Navy and conducting raids along the entirety of the west coast, as far north as California. The squadrons' Peruvian expeditions were vital to Chile's victory, and won their War of Independence in 1826.
In the years that followed the Chilean Navy would modernize and engage the fleets of its neighbors as territorial boundaries were established. Most notably was the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific in which Chile fought Peru & Bolivia. At the Battle of Iquique, Chilean naval hero Admiral Arturo Prat boarded the Peruvian ironclad Huascar but was killed. This event is commemorated every May 21 as Chilean Naval Day. The Huascar was later captured at the Battle of Angamos and saw a major victory at the Battle of Pisagua. The war ended in 1883 with a decisive Chilean victory, and saw the Peruvian Navy destroyed and Bolivia become a landlocked country.
The Chilean Navy continued to modernize with modern warships after the war. In 1891, Chile erupted into a civil war, with much of the navy siding with the Chilean Congress against President Jose Balmaceda, with Chilean Admiral Jorge Montt leading the armed resistance. On April 23 1891, two Balmacedist torpedo gunboats attacked the Congressionalist armored frigate Blanco Encalada in Caldera Bay, sinking it with torpedoes. This was the first time that a modern warship had been sunk in action by a self-propelled torpedo, and the worlds navies took notice. The Chilean Civil War ended with a congressional victory, and Admiral Montt taking power as Chile's new president, who invested heavily in the navy. In 1893, Chile's first battleship, Capitan Prat was commissioned and more cruisers came into service alongside her, as Chile entered a naval arms race with Argentina. Modernization continued and chile ordered more modern ships from British shipyards, but World War I interrupted their delivery. After the war Chile received its only dreadnought, Almirante Latorre.
In 1931 a large mutiny was put down by the Chilean Air Force. Chile managed to remain neutral for much of World War II and following the war the modernization only continued, bringing in many second-hand but still modern ships mostly from the United States, United Kingdom, and Sweden. In the post-war years the Chilean Navy would see some standoffs with Argentina over boarder disputes, but has not seen a major engagement since.
Today the Chilean Navy operates a modest but modern force consisting of frigates, amphibious warships, and submarines. It is capable of power projection and is regarded as the fourth most capable navy in the Americas, after the United States, Canada, & Brazil.
The Colombian National Navy was founded on July 24 1823 at the Battle of Lake Maracaibo, the last major naval engagement against Spain during the Wars of Independence. However, Colombia's revolutionary naval forces were established shortly after Colombia's declaration of independence in 1810, with South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar leading the fleet. In the years that followed Colombia's victory in its War of Independence, now President Simon Bolivar slashed the Colombian Navy's budget, a blow it would not recover from for a hundred years. Following Simon Bolivar's death in 1830, the nation known as Gran Colombia would also rip itself apart, with Ecuador & Venezuela gaining independence. This only further diminished the navy. It wasn't until 1866 when naval reconstruction was able to start and new steam-powered ships were purchased from the United Kingdom & United States, but these ships did not serve long and for the rest of the 19th century there was no navy.
In 1895, three gunboats were transferred from the Colombian Coast Guard and this began the first step in true naval reconstruction, but would struggle to get off the ground in the later years. The 1899-1902 Civil War only further hindered progress. In 1932 war broke out with Peru over territorial disputes, and this brought the navy back to stay. In 1933 the gunboats of the Colombian Navy fired their first shots of the war at the Battle of Tarapaca. The war would end in a peace treaty later that year, but the Colombian Navy was brought back as a modern fighting force. The following year, the Colombian Navy saw its first modern ocean going warships, the destroyers ARC Caldas & ARC Antioquia enter service. During World War II Colombia remained neutral until 1943, but still suffered U-boat attacks on its merchant shipping while neutral. The navy would protect its merchant fleet. In 1944, the destroyer ARC Caldas engaged the German U-boat U-154, damaging it.
Following World War II, Colombia only bolstered its fleet to expand its capabilities. New ships were imported from the United States. The Colombian Navy would also deploy to Korea for combat operations in the Korean War, being the only South American country to do so. Colombia's three new frigates all distinguished themselves in combat alongside Allied navies while in Korea.
As the Cold War progressed, more ships were imported from the United States and modernization only continued. Today the Colombian National Navy is a modest force of frigates, patrol ships, & submarines, while also operating a large river force. It deploys regularly as a part of maritime security operations globally and continues to work alongside allies.
The Peruvian Navy was founded in 1821 by General Jose de San Martin during Peru's War of Independence. It was successful in capturing Spanish warships and using them against Spain to achieve independence by 1824. Unlike it's neighbor Colombia Peru built up their navy after independence and used it to expand its influence. In the years that followed it saw numerous victories against Gran Colombia, Chile, & Spain. In 1877, the ironclad Huascar engaged the Royal Navy at the Battle of Pacocha and saw the first combat use of a self-propelled torpedo, though it missed its target.
The War of the Pacific broke out in 1879, where heavy fighting against the Chilean Navy took place and saw victories and defeats for Peru & Chile alike. During the Battle of Angamos, Peru's naval hero, Admiral Miguel Grau, was killed on the Huascar which was later captured by Chile. The Huascar is notable for being the only ship on which both side's fleet commanders were killed in action aboard. Peru would lose the War of the Pacific to Chile in 1883 and their navy was completely destroyed, forcing them to rebuild from scratch.
Aside from some small gunboats, major naval reconstruction would not begin until 1906, with the scout cruisers BAP Almirante Grau & BAP Coronel Bolognesi entering service. These ships became the backbone of the Peruvian Navy. In 1911, its first destroyer and first two submarines were purchased from France. Naval aviation was established in 1920 with seaplanes entering service. In 1932 the Colombia-Peru War broke out over territorial disputes. As Colombia did not have much more than gunboats, there was no serious naval action, but the navy was used as a support for ground troops. In 1941 another territorial dispute caused the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War to break out. The Ecuadorian Navy only had a single gunboat to its name, the BAE Abdon Calderon and at the Battle of Guayaquil it engaged the Peruvian destroyer BAP Almirante Villar. Surprisingly, the Abdon Calderon was able to damage Almirante Villar and force it away from the Port of Guayaquil. It was the only naval battle of the war but the Peruvian Navy continued to blockade Ecuador. The war ended with a ceasefire after three weeks. Peru remained neutral in World War II until late 1945 but still patrolled for any possible threat from Japan.
In the post-war years, Peru continued to modernize its navy, keeping up with the naval power of its other neighbors. It saw the importation of ships from the United States, United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. Its last gun cruiser, the BAP Almirante Grau (CLM-81) was heavily modernized and was not decommissioned until 2017 - the last nation to use a World War II era light cruiser.
Today the Peruvian Navy is one of the most modern and powerful in South America. It operates a sizable force of frigates, corvettes, patrol ships, amphibious warships, and submarines. It is very capable of projecting power regionally and abroad.
The Mexican Navy was founded in 1800, but not as an established force until 1821 after Mexico's independence from Spain. Spain would attempt to reconquer Mexico and a navy was needed to defend itself. The Mexican Navy fought their first battle at the Capture of San Juan de Ulua Fort on November 23 1825, successfully defeating Spain. Mexico would suffer losses to the much superior Spanish Navy in the long run, but Mexico would survive.
From 1835-1836, Texas would fight for their independence from Mexico and the Texian Navy would skirmish with the Mexican Navy until Texas' independence in 1836. In 1838, in what is known as the Pastry War, the French Navy bombarded San Juan de Ulua Fort and occupied the state of Veracruz, as the Mexican Navy was not in a position to support it. In 1843 the Mexican Navy engaged the Texas Navy & Yutican Navy at the Battle of Campeche where it reached a stalemate. During the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War the United States had overwhelming naval superiority and the Mexican Navy was of little use. The same was true during the 1861 French Intervention in Mexico. In the aftermath of constant naval defeats, Mexico started to invest in their navy.
In 1910, the Mexican Revolution broke out and the country descended into civil war between the Constitutionalists & the Huertistas. From 1914, the Constitutionalist gunboat Tampico would do battle against the Huertistas gunboats Guerrero & Morelos four times. Later that year, the United States intervened and occupied the state of Veracruz, in which the nearby Mexican corvette ARM Zaragoza took no part, but Mexican Naval Infantry put up a valiant defense against the United States Marines. Fighting in Mexico continued until 1920. After the Mexican Revolution, Mexico decided to invest and rebuild their navy. In 1920 the gunboat ARM Agua Prieta was purchased from the United States and the Mexican Navy's most powerful warship, the coastal defense ship ARM Anáhuac, was purchased from Brazil in 1924. In 1932, two modern gunboats were custom ordered from Spain and commissioned.
Mexico joined World War II on May 22 1942 following U-boat attacks on their merchant fleet. Mexico sent troops to fight overseas, but the navy was too small to make an impact. In the post-war years, Mexico imported a number of ships from the United States to modernize and bolster its fleet. These included destroyers, patrol ships, and amphibious vessels, with many of these ships seeing service well into the 21st century and some are still in service.
Today the Mexican Navy operates a modest fleet of frigates, corvettes, patrol ships, & amphibious warships. It is primarily a regional force dedicated to maritime security and disaster relief. It continues to modernize and train alongside its allies.