ARA Uruguay

Uruguay moored at Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Name: Uruguay
Namesake: Schooner ARA Uruguay
Owner:  Argentine Navy
Ordered: 1872
Builder: Laird Brothers, Birkenhead, England
Launched: 6 March 1874
Commissioned: 5 July 1874
Decommissioned: 1926
Status: Decommissioned, moored as museum ship at Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Coordinates: 34°36′32.23″S 58°21′56.31″W / 34.6089528°S 58.3656417°W / -34.6089528; -58.3656417Coordinates: 34°36′32.23″S 58°21′56.31″W / 34.6089528°S 58.3656417°W / -34.6089528; -58.3656417
General characteristics
Class and type: Steam gunboat with auxiliary sails
Displacement: 550 metric tons (540 long tons)
Length: 46.36 m (152.1 ft)
Beam: 7.63 m (25.0 ft)
Draft: 3.5 m (11 ft)
Propulsion: Steam, 3-cylinder compound
Sail plan: Barque
  • Cruising: 6 kn (11 km/h)
  • Maximum: 11 kn (20 km/h)
Range: 1,500 nmi (2,800 km)
  • Original: 4 × Vavasseur mounted 7 inch (bow, stern, port and starboard)
  • 1880 upgrade: two 90 mm and one 150 mm Armstrong guns
  • 1893 upgrade: two 120 mm and two 66 mm Armstrong guns

The corbeta (corvette) ARA Uruguay, built in England, is the largest ship afloat of its age in the Armada de la República Argentina (Argentine Navy), with more than 140 years passed since its commissioning in September 1874. The last of the legendary squadron of President Sarmiento, the Uruguay took part in revolutions, ransoms, expeditions, rescues, and was even floating headquarters of the Navy School. During its operational history 1874–1926 the Uruguay has served as a gunboat, school ship, expedition support ship, Antarctic rescue ship, fisheries base supply ship, and hydrographic survey vessel, and is now a museum ship in Buenos Aires.[1][2] This ship may be the oldest in South America having been built in 1874 at Laird Bros. (now Cammell Laird) shipyard of Birkenhead, England, at a cost of £ 32,000.[3] This ship is rigged to a barque sailplan (three masts, two of which have cross spars). The ship's steel hull is lined in teak.

The ship's namesake is an earlier Argentine Navy schooner, a seven-gun combatant in the Battle of Juncal, 1827.


Gunship and training ship (1874–1887)

Originally built as a gunship, the ship was soon to be used as a training ship.

Naval training headquarters ship (1887)

After an episode known as the "Mutiny of the Overcoats" ("el Motín de los Gabanes" de Zárate) affected the continuity of studies in the emerging Naval Academy, the ship became a floating headquarters for naval training. In 1879, the gunboat, anchored in Buenos Aires, witnessed the graduation of the academy's first class of Naval Officers.[4]

Asserting Argentina's sovereignty claim to Patagonia (1878)

In 1878 it became part of the expedition of Commodore Louis Py to Patagonia, south of the Santa Cruz River, along with the monitor Los Andes and the gunboat Constitución, with the goal of asserting Argentina's sovereignty claim on that region, threatened by Chile.[5]

First scientific expedition (1884)

In 1884 it transported foreign scientific committees who came to observe a Transit of Venus (the passage of the disk of Venus across the Sun).[6][7][8]

Configured for expedition support (1887-1903)

In 1887 the ship was removed from its training assignment and fitted for expedition support.[9]

Rebuilt for Antarctic rescue (1903)

In 1903 the ship was extensively refitted specifically as a steam rescue ship with auxiliary sail propulsion.[10] The original horizontal reciprocating engine[11] was replaced with a more compact yet more powerful engine and boilers salvaged from a wreck, allowing addition of more water storage, coal bunkering and fuel oil for heating. Additional bulkheads to create a total of eight compartments and hull reinforcement were added. The bilge keels were removed to facilitate damage-free passage through ice. Hard shell above deck storm and wave protection for crew was added fore and aft. Additional insulations of cork and sawdust were added.[2]

Rescue of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (October 1903)

Capitán de Corbeta (Lieutenant Commander) ARA Julián Irízar

The ship's most notable action was carried out in 1901–1903 when the Uruguay supported and then later rescued the Swedish Antarctic Expedition led by Otto Nordenskiöld, their ship, the Antarctic, having been destroyed by ice.[12] The rescue effort was led by Lieutenant Commander Julián Irízar who returned from his London diplomatic post of Naval Attache.[13]

A special crew of eight officers and nineteen men was selected based upon experience, courage, and ability to withstand the severe polar conditions. With all of the expedition members rescued successfully, the ship returned through a severe storm in a thoroughly battered condition, having been rolled up to 40 degrees and now partially dismasted. Arriving first at Puerto Santa Cruz,[14] they telegraphed their success to headquarters.[15] On December 2, 1903 they arrived at home port to a great rejoicing by the citizens of Buenos Aries, with all participants receiving a hero's welcome from one hundred thousand dockside greeters, to be followed by many days of receptions and parades.[16]

Support of Charcot expedition (1904–1906)

The Third French Antarctic Expedition, led by Jean-Baptiste Charcot, was supported by the Uruguay.[17]

Base support and hydrography (1904–1922)

The ship operated through the Drake Passage, around Cape Horn, and resupplied a base in the South Orkney Islands (called by the Argentines Órcadas) with trips to South Georgia (called by the Argentines San Pedro Island) and supporting the Argentinean Fisheries Association (Sociedad Argentina de Pesca) whaling station with coal and food supplies. During this time ship was engaged in performing hydrographic and geographic surveys for the preparation of maritime navigation charts.[18]

Out of service (1926)

She was dismissed from service in 1926 (with 52 years of naval service), to become a floating ammunition dump.[19]

Restoration for use as a naval museum ship (1954)

In 1954 the Uruguay was rebuilt in the Río Santiago Shipyard. It was moored two years later at the pier of the Naval School, now officially designated as a museum ship.

Public museum ship and historic monument (1967present)

Removed from naval service in 1962, the Uruguay was in 1967 declared a National Historic Landmark. Currently integrated since 1967 as a museum ship with the frigate ARA Presidente Sarmiento in the Museum of Sea and Navigation.[20] It is moored at Puerto Madero in the city of Buenos Aires, in the dock area No. 3, a short distance from the Sarmiento.[21]


See also


  1. [Exploits] Hazañas Gemela de la Paraná, fueron las primeras llegadas al país de los buques de hierro y vapor adquiridos por el Presidente Sarmiento, desde 1877, fue buque-escuela, recorriendo las costas del sur y reafirmando nuestra soberanía. De ella egresó la primera promoción de la Escuela Naval y, en 1880, dejó de ser buque escuela, sirviendo de transporte y de apoyo de comisiones científicas. ARA Official website page Barque Museo ARA Corbetta Uruguay Facts distributed throughout article (in Spanish)
  2. 1 2 Official Lifeguard Organization webpage: Ship Museum and Corvette ARA "Uruguay" Archived January 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (in Spanish)
  3. [Construction...] Construcción de la Corbeta Uruguay Construida en los astilleros Cammell Laird Brothers, de Birkenhead (Inglaterra), a un costo de 32.000 libras, según un contrato firmado para dos unidades gemelas (Uruguay y Paraná), con fondos de la ley de armamentos de 1872. Fue botada el 06 de Marzo de 1874. (ARA Official website page Barque Museo ARA Corbetta Uruguay)
  4. Early school headquarters history (in Spanish)
  5. [Historic Monument] Monumento histórico Considerando que la nave era la más veterana de la Armada a flote, que en 1877 se le dio la jerarquía de buque escuela de los futuros oficiales de marina, que en 1878 formó parte de la Expedición del Comodoro Py que reivindicó la soberanía nacional en la Patagonia,...(ARA Official website page Barque Museo ARA Corbetta Uruguay)
  6. En 1884, la corbeta sirvió de transporte y buque de apoyo a las comisiones científicas que se trasladaron a nuestras despobladas costas, para observar el tránsito del planeta Venus. SUGARA Lifesaving Organization Archived January 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. For an example of an earlier transit see 1882 Transit of Venus (HM Nautical Almanac Office at The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HMNAO) Archived September 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Animated diagram of 1882 transit from Punta Arenas, Chille (HMNAO) Archived August 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. [REPAIRS] LAS REPARACIONES Las reformas estuvieron a cargo del Jefe del Arsenal de Marina de Dársena Norte, comodoro Atilio S. Barilari, secundado por los ingenieros Gustavo Sunblad Roseti y Jacinto Z. Caminos. La cañonera-corbeta se puso en dique seco. Se reforzó su casco y se quitaron todos los apéndices externos (quillas anti-rolido y otros). La máquina propulsora original, una alternativa horizontal, fue reemplazada por otra vertical de mucho menor tamaño, proveniente del destroyer Santa Fe. Este buque, de 57 m de eslora y 340 t de desplazamiento, había sido adquirido junto con otros tres gemelos en 1896. En abril de 1897 naufragó durante un temporal sobre La Laja en Colonia del Sacramento. El buque se partió y se perdió pero posteriormente se rescataron parte del casco y sus calderas, una de las cuales fue destinada a las mejoras de la Uruguay. Esta máquina era vertical y dado su menor volumen (y mayor potencia) con respecto a la original, se ganó espacio interior para cisterna de agua potable y carboneras. Se colocaron diversos mamparos estancos, llevando a ocho los compartimentos. Se agregó calefacción interior y cisterna de petróleo más la comunicación interna bajo cubierta en toda la eslora. En proa se agregó un castillo protector y en popa una toldilla para el timonel, más un pañol de explosivos para cargas a utilizarse en los hielos y la modificación del aparejo original, adaptado a la meteorología austral.La Corbeta Uruguay (in Spanish)
  10. [Lifesaving crew]LA TRIPULACION SALVADORA Mientras se realizaban las reformas a la Uruguay, la Orden General 99/903 del Ministerio de Marina designó a la plana mayor que tripularía la cañonera, ex-corbeta, barca ahora transformada en buque de rescate a vapor con propulsión auxiliar a vela (barca con gavias dobles). La Corbeta Uruguay (in Spanish)
  11. La Corbeta Uruguay (in Spanish) (Section LA FLOTA DE SARMIENTO) concerning original engine
  12. [The Nordenskjöld expedition and the rescue of the Corvette Uruguay 1901–1903] 1903: segundo invierno... y la Corbeta Uruguay al rescate... [paragraph five of section] Para el riesgoso evento fue reacondicionada en los Talleres del Arsenal de Marina en Dársena Norte. Se cambió su máquina y caldera; se le agregaron mamparos estancos; varios sectores fueron forrados en aserrín de corcho, para obtener mejor resistencia al frío; al estilo “lomo de ballena” se le agregó un castillete de proa y una caseta para el timonel en popa; se facilitó la comunicación a través de las cubiertas bajas; se reforzó su proa y roda; se aumentó la capacidad para almacenar petróleo; su arboladura se modificó a barca con gavias dobles. Todo estaba prácticamente listo en los finales de septiembre.(SUGARA official lifesaving website Archived January 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (in Spanish))
  13. Otto Nordenskjöld (in English)
  14. Google Maps location of Puerto Santa Cruz, Argentina
  15. SUGARA page La expedición Nordenskjöld y el rescate de la Corbeta Uruguay 1901–1903 – Conmemorando los primeros cien años Archived January 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (in Spanish) (English title: The Nordenskjöld expedition and the rescue of the Corvette Uruguay 1901–1903 Commemorating the first hundred years)
  16. (SUGARA) Archived January 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. La llegada a Buenos Aires fue apoteótica y el veterano velero entró con sus palos mayor y trinquete mochos, como una paloma herida, escoltado por más de treinta embarcaciones, llenas de público y el aullar de las sirenas de los buques del puerto. En el muelle, unas cien mil personas dieron una inolvidable bienvenida a la gallarda nave y sus tripulantes.
  17. "En 1904 volvió a la Antártida en ayuda del sabio Charcot y realizó otras duras campañas." (ARA Official website page Barque Museo ARA Corbetta Uruguay)
  18. Así con esta pequeña y frágil nave, se afrontaban nuestros peligrosos mares australes, se navegaba el Drake, se navegaba el Cabo de Hornos, se reaprovisionaba Orcadas en 1904/1905; 1906/1907; 1908; 1910; 1915; 1918; 1919; 1920; 1921 y 1922. También se llegaba a la isla San Pedro (Georgias del Sur) como en 1909, 1910, 1915, 1918 y 1919, aprovisionando la Sociedad Argentina de Pesca, estación ballenera, de carbón y víveres y aun levantando cartas y efectuando hidrografía.SUGARA Buque Museo Corbeta A.R.A "Uruguay" Archived January 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (Spanish)
  19. En 1926, después de 52 años de activísimos servicios, fue radiada; pero si lo hecho no bastara, aún debía ser útil. Durante muchos años permaneció sin arboladura, convertida en polvorín flotante, en las aguas de Río Santiago Official Lifeguard Organization webpage: Ship Museum and Corvette ARA "Uruguay" Archived January 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (in Spanish)
  20. [Historic monument] Monumento histórico ...el Poder Ejecutivo declaró por decreto del 06 de Junio de 1967 a la corbeta Uruguay monumento histórico, responsabilizando a la Comisión Nacional de Museos, Monumentos y Lugares Históricos, junto con la Armada de la conservación de la nave y de proyectar su futuro destino y funcionamiento.(ARA Official website page Barque Museo ARA Corbetta Uruguay)
  21. Google map centered on ARA Uruguay. (Scroll south to see the ARA Presidente Sarmiento).


National Commission for Museums and Monuments and Sites (1998). Monuments of Argentina. Secretariat of Culture of the Nation. ISBN 950-720-057-6. Almanac 1958 Daily Nation, with reminders of historical dates in Argentina.

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