Argentine Naval Prefecture

The Argentine Naval Prefecture (Spanish: Prefectura Naval Argentina or PNA) is a service of the Argentine Security Ministry charged with protecting the country's rivers and maritime territory. It therefore fulfills the functions of other countries' coast guards, and furthermore acts as a gendarmerie force policing navigable rivers.

Argentine Naval Prefecture
Prefectura Naval Argentina
Emblem of the Prefecture.
MottoRobur et quies iuxta litora et in undis
Valour and safety in coasts and waters
Agency overview
FormedJune 1810
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Operations jurisdictionArgentina
Legal jurisdictionAs per operations jurisdiction
General nature
HeadquartersAve. E. Madero 235, Buenos Aires
Elected officer responsible
  • Patricia Bullrich, Minister of Security
Agency executives
  • Prefect General Eduardo Scarzello, National Prefect
  • Prefect General Hugo Ilacqua, National Subprefect
Parent agencyMinistry of Security of Argentina
Phone: 54 11 4318 7400
March: March of the Naval Prefecture

According to the Argentine Constitution, the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic cannot intervene in internal civil conflicts, so the Prefecture is defined as a civilian "security force of a military nature". It maintains a functional relationship with the Ministry of Defense, as part of both the National Defense System and the Interior Security System. It therefore maintains capabilities arising from the demands required by joint military planning with the armed forces.

The PNA is a large organization for a coastguard. With a strength of 45,750 sworn members, the PNA is a larger organization than most national navies, and is in fact slightly larger than the Argentine Navy - the organization upon which it had been attached for a long time until the 1980s, when it was transferred to direct control of the Ministry of Defense.



The Prefecture's predecessor is the ports service founded by the first autonomous Argentine government in June 1810, six years before Argentina declared independence. In Argentina this is considered the official founding date of the PNA. The first commander of the force was Colonel Martín Jacobo Thompson, a Porteño of partially English descent who had served against the British in the invasions of 1806–7. Thompson was given the title of "Captain of Ports" (Spanish: "Capitán de Puertos").

Although the PNA traces itself back to its predecessor of 1806, the modern Prefecture was in fact founded in the late nineteenth century as the "National Maritime Prefecture" on the initiative of Manuel Florencio Mantilla, a well-known Argentine senator who was also a respected academic and intellectual. The law pertaining to it was enacted in October 1896.

Falklands War

The Prefecture had a minor role in the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas). As with other Argentine military services, participation in this conflict is given considerable weight in the institutional memory of the service.

Two PNA patrol vessels, Islas Malvinas (GC-82) and Rio Iguazu (GC-83), were sent to provide an Argentine coastguard service to the islands. According to Argentine sources, Rio Iguazu came into contact with a British Sea Harrier aircraft on 21 May and one member of the vessel's crew was killed while firing a 12.7 mm machine gun at the British jet. The ship ran aground, but most of its cargo -among them two 105 mm howitzers- was recovered later.

The crew of the patrol boat claimed the shooting down of the aircraft, but this was later proved to be unfounded. The sortie was actually carried out by two Sea Harriers of 800 Naval Air Squadron, Nº XZ460 and XZ499, which strafed the vessel with 30 mm cannon fire.[1] The patrol vessel Islas Malvinas was captured and operated by the Royal Navy, as HMS Tiger Bay.

Illegal fishing

The Prefecture is constantly battling illegal fishing vessels in the Argentine exclusive economic zone (EEZ),[2] mostly from eastern countries. The Argentine Naval Aviation also collaborates in detection of such ships with their CASA 212 S68 and Beechcraft 350ER' maritime surveillance aircraft.

Chian-der 3 incident

The sinking of Chian-der 3 was an incident which occurred on 28 May 1986 when the Taiwanese flag naval trawler Chian-der 3 was detected, tracked, shot, set on fire and finally sunk by the PNA. The sinking was carried out by PNA vessel Prefecto Derbes. Two Taiwanese fishermen were killed; four others were injured. The Taiwanese fishermen's union called the incident a "barbaric act" and the British government condemned it as "unjustifiable and excessive".



The PNA is subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. The organization is headed by the National Naval Prefect (Prefecto Nacional Naval), currently Prefect-General Carlos Edgardo Fernandez, assisted by the Deputy National Naval Prefect (Subprefecto Nacional Naval), currently Prefect-General Ricardo Rodriguez.

The Prefecture's main facility is located in the Edificio Guardacostas (which translates as "the Coastguard Building") at 235 E. Madero Avenue, Buenos Aires.

The PNA headquarters is divided into three main departments, each headed by a Director-General with the rank of Prefecto General. These are each divided into a number of directorates, each headed by a Director with the rank of Prefect-General (Prefecto General).

the Intelligence Service (Servicio de Inteligencia) is directly responsible to the National Naval Prefect and is also headed by a Prefect-General.

  • Dirección General de Seguridad (Directorate-General of Security)
    • Dirección de Operaciones (Directorate of Operations)
    • Dirección de Policía de Seguridad de la Navegación (Directorate of Navigation Security Police)
    • Dirección de Policía Judicial, Protección Marítima y Puertos (Directorate of Judicial Police, Maritime Protection and Ports)
    • Dirección de Protección Ambiental (Directorate of Environmental Protection)
  • Dirección General de Logística (Directorate-General of Logistics)
    • Dirección de Personal (Directorate of Personnel)
    • Dirección de Material (Directorate of Materiel)
    • Dirección de Educación (Directorate of Education)
    • Dirección de Administración Financiera (Directorate of Financial Administration)
    • Dirección de Bienestar (Directorate of Welfare)
  • Dirección General de Planeamiento y Desarrollo (Directorate-General of Planning and Development)
    • Dirección de Planeamiento (Directorate of Planning)
    • Secretaría General (Secretariat-General; headed by the Secretary-General, a Prefecto Mayor)


The PNA is divided into ten zones:


The highest rank of the service, Prefect-General, is held by both the National Naval Prefect and Deputy National Naval Prefect, as well as by many of the most senior officers of the prefecture, such as the heads of the different directorates of the national headquarters. While the rank itself equals that of Rear Admiral in the Argentine Navy, the National Naval Prefect and the Deputy National Naval Prefect titles are both equated to the ranks of Admiral and Vice Admiral, respectively, and wear corresponding insignia.

Officer ranks are as follows:

Argentine Rank (in Spanish) Argentine Rank (in English) Equivalent Argentine Navy Rank Equivalent U.S. Coast Guard Rank
Prefecto General (Prefecto Nacional Naval) Prefect-General (National Naval Prefect) Almirante Admiral/Vice-Admiral
Prefecto General (Subprefecto Nacional Naval) Prefect-General (Deputy National Naval Prefect) Vicealmirante Rear Admiral (Upper Half)
Prefecto General Prefect General Contralmirante Rear Admiral (Lower Half)
Prefecto Mayor Prefect-Major Capitán de Navío Captain
Prefecto Principal Principal Prefect Capitán de Fragata Commander
Prefecto Prefect Capitán de Corbeta Lieutenant Commander
Subprefecto Deputy Prefect Teniente de Navío Lieutenant
Official Principal Principal Officer Teniente de Fragata Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Official Auxiliar Auxiliary Officer Teniente de Corbeta Ensign
Official Ayudante Adjutant Officer Guardiamarina no equivalent

The non-commissioned officer and enlisted ranks of the Prefecture are as follows:

Argentine Rank (in Spanish) Argentine Rank (in English) Equivalent Argentine Navy Rank Equivalent U.S. Coast Guard Rank
Ayudante Mayor Adjutant-Major Suboficial Mayor Master Chief Petty Officer
Ayudante Principal Principal Adjutant Suboficial Principal Senior Chief Petty Officer
Ayudante de Primera Adjutant First Class Suboficial Primero Chief Petty Officer
Ayudante de Segunda Adjutant Second Class Suboficial Segundo Petty Officer First Class
Ayudante de Tercera Adjutant Third Class Cabo Principal Petty Officer Second Class
Cabo Primero First Corporal Cabo Primero Petty Officer Third Class
Cabo Segundo Second Corporal Cabo Segundo Seaman
Marinero Seaman Marinero Primero Seaman Apprentice


Main ships

Patrol vessels

The Argentine Naval Prefecture use the following ships for patrol purposes.[3]

  • Mantilla class (Halcón II class): 1,000 tons with helicopter deck built by Bazan (Ferrol), Spain
  • GC-13 PNA Delfín, 700-ton patrol vessel[4]
  • Z-28 class: 81 tons built by Blohm + Voss, Germany
    • GC-64 to GC-83: Last two lost in Falklands War
    • GC-64 Mar del Plata
    • GC-65 Martin Garcia
    • GC-66 Rio Lujan
    • GC-68 Rio Paraguay
    • GC-73 Cabo Corrientes
    • GC-78 Madryn
    • GC-83 Islas Malvinas
    • GC-84 Rio Iguazu
  • Stan Tender 2200 class: 61 tons built by Damen, Netherlands
    • GC-122, 123, 124, 125, 129, 130, 150, 151
  • Stan Tender 1750 class: 55 tons built by Damen, Netherlands
    • GC-118, 119, 133
  • Damen Alucat 1050 class: 15 tons built by Damen, Netherlands
    • GC-137, 138, 139, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149

At least other 50 vessels on the 8–15-ton range.

Other vessels

  • SB-15 Tango: salvage cutter. Former 635 GRT research/survey ship Seismic Surveyor (IMO 7048128), built 1969 in United States and purchased in 2005.[5]
  • DF-19 Recalada: former 17,707 GRT Shell Argentina oil tanker Estrella Atlantica ex-Humberto Beghin, built 1982 in Argentina and purchased in 2011. Converting in Buenos Aires to a pilot boarding station.[6] Tanker Estrella Austral will be similarly converted to pilot boarding station DF-20.[7]


Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
CASA C-212 Spain maritime patrol 5[8]
Piper PA-28 United States utility 2[8]
Beechcraft King Air United States transport 350 1[8]
Schweizer 300 United States patrol 7[9]
Eurocopter AS355 France utility 2[9]
Eurocopter AS365 France SAR 365 N2 4[9]
Eurocopter EC225 France SAR / transport EC225LP 2[10]

Former aircraft

Previous aircraft operated by the Coast Guard were the Aérospatiale Puma, Hughes 369, Bell 47J, and the Sikorsky H-5.[9]

See also


  1. Pook, Jerry: RAF Harrier Ground Attack – MALVINAS. Pen & Sword, 2006, page 69.
  2. "Capturaron un buque coreano pescando illegalmente en aguas argentinas". Clarín (in Spanish). 28 April 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  3. "Latin American Military - Argentina - Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA) - Patrol Ships". Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  4. "History and archeology í to Maritime". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  5. "Prefectura's SB-15 "TANGO" salvage cutter sails through Antarctica waters". Buenos Aires: Prefectura Naval Argentina. 28 January 2013. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  6. "Discurso de la Ministra Nilda Garré" (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Prefectura Naval Argentina. 29 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  7. "Ponton Recalada" (PDF). Entre Tracas y Cuadernas (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional Browniano (77): 18–19. March–April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  8. "1 Coast Guard fleet". 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  9. "Prefectura Naval Argentina". 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  10. "The Argentine Coast Guard receives its first H225". Retrieved 12 March 2019.

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