Naval Emblem of Bolivia
|Part of||Armed Forces of Bolivia|
|Patron||Our Lady of Copacabana|
|Naval ensign (1966–2013)|
The Bolivian Navy (Spanish: Armada Boliviana) is a branch of the Bolivian Armed Forces. As of 2008, the Bolivian Naval Force had approximately 5,000 personnel. Although Bolivia has been landlocked since the War of the Pacific in 1904, Bolivia established a River and Lake Force (Fuerza Fluvial y Lacustre) in January 1963 under the Ministry of National Defense. It consisted of four boats supplied from the United States and 1,800 personnel recruited largely from the Bolivian Army. The Bolivian Navy was renamed the Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana) in January 1966, but it has since been called the Bolivian Navy (Armada Boliviana) as well. It became a separate branch of the armed forces in 1963. Bolivia has large rivers which are tributaries to the Amazon which are patrolled to prevent smuggling and drug trafficking. Bolivia also maintains a naval presence on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, across which runs the Peruvian frontier.
Landlocked Bolivia has not reconciled with the loss of its coast to Chile and the Navy exists to keep the hope alive of recovering its coast by cultivating a maritime consciousness. The Bolivian Navy takes part in many parades and government functions, but none more so than the Día Del Mar (Day of the Sea) in which Bolivia, every year, re-vindicates its claim for an unspecified sovereign access to the sea.
Bolivia claims the country had access to the sea at independence in 1825. In the Boundary Treaty of 1866 between Chile and Bolivia the involved parties agreed on a border line that established a sea access for Bolivia recognized by Chile. In the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and conquered the Bolivian coastal territories. The recovery of its coastline is a matter of honor in Bolivia, influencing many modern-day political actions and trade decisions.
In 2010, Peru granted Bolivia "dock facilities, a free-trade zone and space for economic activities" along with the option to "build a Pacific Coast annex for the Bolivian navy school" in a 99-year deal.
The Navy is organized into ten naval districts with flotilla headquarters in Guaqui, Guayaramerín, Puerto Suárez, Riberalta, and San Pedro de Tiquina and bases in Puerto Busch, Puerto Horquilla, Puerto Villarroel, Trinidad, and Rurrenabaque.
Naval vessels include several dozen boats, a dozen or more of which are for riverine patrol. Seagoing vessels, including the American-made PR-51 Santa Cruz de la Sierra and several other vessels sail the oceans with the Bolivian flag with the granted permission of the "Capitanias Navales" Naval Registration Office. The Libertador Simón Bolívar, a ship acquired from Venezuela, used to sail from its home port in Rosario, Argentina on the River Paraná. In 1993 the Navy was formally renamed the Naval Force (Fuerza Naval) and moved with the Bolivian Army under a single military authority.
Most of the officers attend the Bolivian Naval Academy, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Military and Naval Science, accredited by the Military University. Many naval officers later go on to further studies at the undergraduate and graduate level. Argentina's Naval Military Group in Bolivia advises on naval strategy and tactics. Many Bolivian officers train in ocean sailing on Argentinian seagoing naval ships. The Force has several Special Operations units to address both internal and external threats.
The Naval Force covers the extensive Bolivian inland waterways divided between the following Naval Districts which are named after the basin or region where they operate:
The Marine component of the FNB originated with the creation of the Marine Battalion Almirante Grau in the early 1980s. This force consisted of 600 men based on Tiquina Naval Base on Lake Titicaca. The name was later changed to Marine Battalion Independence, based in Chua Cocani (Not to be confused with the Independence Regiment (RI17) of the Bolivian army).
At present this marines maintain a similar number of troops including paramilitaries. Marine personnel are either part of Task Force Blue Devils or are stationed in various naval bases. There are currently seven infantry battalions which are distributed as follows:
The Policía Militar Naval or PMN is a speciality similar to its counterpart to the Army's Military Police, carrying out operations such as Important Persons Protection (IPP), Physical Security (SEF), or Patrol Facility (PAT) with additional duties such as Signals or naval protocol. There Naval detachments of PM in all district headquarters and FNB Naval Area. But only have the following units at the Battalion:
The Bolivian Navy has a total of 173 vessels with many stationed on Lake Titicaca:
The Bolivian Naval Force operates two utility aircraft for the use of headquarters.
|Cessna 206 Stationair||United States||Utility||206G||1|
|Cessna 402||United States||Utility||402C||1|