Send the Fleet South

Type 23 Frigate HMS_Sutherland_(F81)_MoD

It seems the Argentine Navy is buying ships, no doubt the ensuing hysteria will lead to calls for the fleet the sail South but hang on, what are they buying?

Four of these…

The polar tugs/supply vessels being supplied to Armada Argentina by Russia after several months negotiation are the Tumcha, Neftegaz 51, Neftegaz 57 and the Neftegaz 61. Built in Gdansk, Poland, in the late eighties they are 81m long with a displacement of 2,700 tonnes and a crew of 30.

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29 Responses

  1. Defence of the Falklands should be FI based and appropriate for the current threat levels. We should keep a sensible eye on Argentinian capabilities and match defences accordingly. On the face of it these don’t justify any reassessment aside from the fact that I think the permanently deployed garrison is on the light side and some discrete topping up is required as part of DPAs

  2. Useful sort of OSV of the sort that we may need some of in future to host offboard MCM equipments.

  3. Could actually be more of a pain in the arse them having those about.
    Non-military so not such a line-crosser if they sailed them out to the drilling rigs and started getting in the way. They could start dicking about in a scaled up version of their Spanish cousins around Gib.

  4. Stop being such a pussy mickp, we should obviously dispatch SSNs immediately to sink these weapons of aggression before they reach the hands of the rogue state of Argentina. It’s the only responsible thing to do.

  5. I agree, they look harmless but probably could be used as inconspicuous SSK / Garrison supply ships or even SF platforms… Still Clyde, Protector and a FF/DD couldn’t handle, though its a shame Protector doesnt have a dual hanger for a couple of wildcats (I’d fix that if money was no object)…

  6. Four ice-strengthened supply boats, most likely in support of Argentine operations in the Antarctic. Given half a chance they could play merry hell with the Falklands fisheries, by doing ‘marine scientific research’ on the Burdwood Bank, inside the FI EEZ. But not likely.

  7. Not that we know what condition they are in and how long they will last before needing major refits…

  8. A measure of how far they have fallen in the last 30 years
    This is news.

    This is the biggest purchase Argentina will make this decade.
    There are inner city gangs with more threatening procurement programs.

    These could engage in very annoying dicketry, but they could also be ‘dealt with’ by any of the assets already darn sarf.
    Hell, the typhoons could practice cannon fire on them.

    Sure, they could smuggle under water knife fighters, but so could a few Princess Yachts.

    There are legitimate uses of ice safeish tugs that don’t involve invading the Falklands. I can’t really think of any uses in invading the Falklands.

  9. $2m each?
    Better than scrapping them I suppose.
    But I can’t imagine they are in any shape.

    I do hope at least one breaks down and another has to tow it.

  10. Whilst it is easy to assume all actions by Argentina are nefarious as TAS points out this is probably a fairly benign procurement to support their Antarctic operations.

    This is also probably a tacit admission that they are nowhere near seeing the ARA Almirante Irízar back in service if at all since the fire of 2007. She has been languishing at Tandanor shipyard for years in theory being upgraded as well as repaired. A 2013 report stated repairs were only 50% complete (after six years!) and the overhaul program was in total disarray.

    In the meantime Argentina has been leasing Icebreakers from other nations but in particular the Russian FESCO operated Vasily Golovnin. This has probably been a fairly expensive solution so a procurement of some kind of vessel/s makes sense.

    Buying four smaller vessels goes some way to replacing the capabilities of the ARA Almirante Irízar without the embarrassment of admitting that the ship is a write off.

  11. @TrT: funny you should mention the yacht, AR got special forces into South Georgia in 82 by just that method :-)

  12. @as

    Nevertheless that is what they used her for, actually she is smaller than the ARA Almirante Irízar.

    Also Argentina operates several bases and I would hardly call their two largest “small”, during the summer months Argentina resupplies her bases with aircraft and Icebreakers. Currently that has been with the Vasily Golovnin and previously the Almirante Iríza.

  13. “…this is probably a fairly benign procurement to support their Antarctic operations.”

    There’s no such thing as “benign” when it comes to the last untapped resource pool in the world.

  14. @above comment

    Good lord are we that paranoid now Simon?!

    Yes Argentina as a claimant country has some rather amusing claims over the Antarctic and its resources they even do silly stuff like having children live at one of their bases and having a baby conceived/born there to some how further their claim. Nevertheless they are signatories of the Antarctic treaty and have adhered to its rules. The other claimant countries would easily kick their a$$ if they tried to make a move on the resources and change the status quo.

    To operate a base on the Antarctic you need the support of ice capable ships and aircraft, that they are procuring four large ice capable tugs to pick up that work whilst interesting shouldn’t be seen as some major play at changing the status quo.

    To be honest I should be more worried about the Arctic and the various claims to its resources which are not protected under a binding treaty.

  15. It’s not Argentina I’m worried about, it’s their new-found friends, who seem hell-bent on ruffling a few feathers of late.

  16. @Simon

    What China and Russia? Neither are going to kick off over the Antarctic for Argentina, they are also both signatories of the Antarctic treaty. They both have better fish to cook when it comes to natural resources claims. Russia the Arctic and China the Western China Sea/Spratleys.

    Both Russia and China operate their own bases on the Antarctic and have better things to do currently then rock the Antarctic treaty.

  17. Fedaykin,

    I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I think Putin has almost nothing better to do than unsettle the West at the moment. Anything that spreads our forces out will serve his long-term plans.

    However, this is just conjecture and is based somewhat on what I would do right now with a weak West and growing unrest. Perhaps I am more of a megalomanic than Putin ;-)

  18. Simon, I can just see Putin’s day planner now

    8:00 Breakfast
    9:00 Annoy Obama
    10:30 Crank call Cameroon
    11:00 Invade Ukraine
    12:00 Lunch with Chinese Ambassador

    I don’t think he sees the West as anything but annoyances to his plan, which is a strong Russia, internally and externally. Internal first, so unless something rocks the status quo, I don’t think he’ll wander too far out. Ukraine was a special case where a puppet of his got deposed in a revolt.

  19. Observer,

    The Russian economy is being hammered and a large part of that is being driven by the west, even a cursory look at the recent deals with China reveal that China is in the driving seat and is taking the opportunity to settle things on its, not Russia’s, terms.

    As to what happens next; the Crimea invasion was clearly well thought out long standing contingency plan, the question then arises as to what other little contingency plans are locked away in the defence ministry.

    The real danger is over the medium turn, Russian society has been driven to nationalism, it is almost a one party state with dissenting media voices having been all but silenced. And now it is facing increasing isolation and recession- that is a toxic mix.

  20. Am I the only one cynical enough to think Russia would sell these so cheap to cause us issues? I mean all this flying close to our airspace is going to cost more than this. Looks like it could be trouble making on the cheap.

  21. “Shore batteries, sir! Coastal forts with shore batteries! Give the islanders something to do pouring steel reinforced concrete! Put twelve inch rifles in them from the old battleships, and we’ll keep the buggers at bay!”

    “What’s that? There ARE no old battleships? But surely the arsenals can provide more of the same guns that we currently have in our battleships? No arsenals? No guns? No battleships? Good Lord, man! Tell me we at least have several torpedo boat squadrons to deploy! No? Disaster awaits us all!”

  22. “It’s all computers, missiles, and diplomacy, Don’t y’see? No need for guns. No need for anything that someone else’s computers or electronical gizmos might not be able to bollix up. Wouldn’t want to upset anyone, y’know.”

  23. @Kent – Batteries are a bit provocative…I’m just hoping somebody has had the sense to park half a dozen of those containerised missile systems in the corner of a hangar at MPA…and South Georgia…and Ascension Island…with a back-up stock back home in Blighty, all discreetly controlled by a team of geeks in a tin shed in Milton Keynes…

    Much more tactful. :-)


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