Río Santiago Shipyard

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The Rio Santiago Shipyard is a shipyard located in the city of Ensenada, province of Buenos Aires, at the shores of the Santiago River. It has been one of the major active and important shipyards in Latin America. Founded in 1953, it has realized diverse functions in the naval, industrial and railroad sectors. In its golden age the shipyard reached 8,000 workers on double shift. In 2008 relies on 2,700 workers.

It has a Technical management staff that operates by departments which manage the different areas of work, such as preparing ships, armament, electricity, planning of water ways, machinery, structure, basic projects, etcetera. It also has a Department of Quality Control that verifies that works stay within the International Norms and Registries.

The most famous work was the construction, in 1962, of the Fragata Libertad. In 1966 this vessel obtained the world speed record in sailing on its voyage across the North Atlantic, covering a distance of 2,058.6 nautical miles (3,812.5 km) in 8 days and 12 hours. The race began in Cape Race, Canada and ended at an imaginary line set between Dublin and Liverpool.


View of the shipyard from the Santiago River.

The Rio Santiago Shipyard started its activities on June 15 of 1953, by the Decree N° 10.627 that established the creation of Astilleros y Fábricas Navales del Estado (AFNE), a company integrated by the Astillero Rio Santiago (ARS) and by the Fabrica Naval de Explosivos Azul (FANAZUL), dependent of the Admiralty (spanish: Ministerio de Marina).

When the construction was completed, the Rio Santiago Shipyard had many workshops that produced essential elements. These include a machine shop for bolts and adjustments, furnaces for iron and copper, electronics, and sections for carpentry and paint.

It had a sustained growth during its first years. In 1969 it modified its society status and became an Anonymous Society of the State. Between 1970 and 1976, the shipyard signed and started the construction of five cargo ships with 9,000 tons of displacement built for the Empresa Líneas Marítimas Argentinas (ELMA), two petroleum ships of 60,000 tons each for YPF, two bulk-carriers with 23,700 tons of displacement and four cargo boats with 14,450 tons of displacement, also for ELMA.

It constructed diesel motors and cranes for its ships and other shipyards and train motors for Ferrocarriles Argentinos (Argentinian Railroads). It also constructed elements for hydraulic turbines, nuclear components (through a license with Atomic Energy of Canada), and bogies for railroads (through a license with American Steel Foundry).

In the mid 70’s it employed approximately 5,500 employees and nearly 3,000 employees hired by distant client companies that directly affected production.


It is situated in the city of Ensenada, Argentina at the shores of the Santiago River, in front of the Escuela Naval Militar (Military Naval School). The Rio Santiago Shipyard’s area is 229 hectares and 55 acres (220,000 m2), but the surface area affected by the industrial work is approximately 100 hectares. The buildings used to be united by a series of tunnels for the electric, water vapor, and compressed air feeders, which reach a length of more than five kilometers.

The holding beaches for materials and parking lots are covered with asphalt covering a surface area of 40,000 square meters, and the internal streets of the shipyard are also covered in asphalt totaling 70,000 square meters. It also has seven kilometers of internal railroads that connect with the Ensenada city branch.

Main products[edit]

Sail ship Libertad, during mid-life refurbishing at the Rio Santiago Shipyard, April 2006


Merchant Ships[edit]

  • Multipurpose Ships
  • Product Holding Ships
  • Container Ships
  • Grain Ships

Lightweight Works[edit]

  • Fishing boat type ARS LPA-720 (2 man craft)
  • Naval Service Patrol (6 man craft)

Sail training ship[edit]

The frigate ARA Libertad (Q-2) was the third construction by the Santiago River Shipyard. It was delivered to the Argentine Navy in 1962 and made its first voyage in 1963. Since its commission the sail boat has covered more than 800,000 nautical miles (1,500,000 km) around the world and has spent about 17 years at sea, not counting time spent at dock. It has been used for training for nearly 11,000 marines of the Argentine Navy.


After suffering the third change of direction in two years, the Santiago River Shipyard is back to work at full capacity for the first time in two decades. The new contracts signed with Venezuela are not the only ones that will revive the naval factory, there are also numerous projects already started, that require the immediate incorporation of 250 new workers.

This factory, the Largest in Latin America, suffered its worst crisis in the '90s when it almost became private, finally ending up as a part of the Buenos Aires province.

In March 2006, the "Madrisa" was launched, a cargo ship, technically called bulk carrier, built for a German client. After that the construction of a new ship with similar characteristics was started and finally began on February 2007, the first of four tanker ships for Venezuela.

The shipyard has been given offers to build oil platforms that will require, in case the job is acquired, that it share part of the work with another shipyard that is currently closed. The Corrientes Shipyard is being kept in mind for this job, since it already has experience building offshore platforms for Thailand.

January 18 of 2008 was the starting date of construction for the first block of the "Eva Perón", one of the two platforms being built for PDVSA.[1]

On September 2010, signed a preliminary agreement with Ukrainian shipyard Chernomorsky Shipbuilding in order to gain experience in the construction of polar class ships [2]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°50′53″S 57°53′58″W / 34.84816°S 57.89944°W / -34.84816; -57.89944