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Venezuelan Bolivarian Navy operations - updated 2020

Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 29 Oct 2018, 12:10
During the Cold War, Venezuela was one of the many US-backed oppressive goverment with widespread political repression and killing of opponents.
Since 1999 it begun a political process, named the “Bolivarian Revolution”, after the leadership of President Hugo Chávez.
It is important to stress how de jure, Venezuela is not a socialist-oriented country but rather a multi-party country with elected government aiming for socialist reforms. However, since the new constitution, the country declared “Bolivarian”: a term including its own interpretation of a socialist-oriented path.

While surviving a US-backed coup d’état in 2002, the right-wing political minority (while retaining the right of vote) engaged in a violent political campaign against the government because the loss of privileges due the socialist-oriented reforms. In recent years the downfall of oil prices provoked an economy crisis in Venezuela and this was exploited by the right-wing parties with wide international backing to cause the downfall of the Bolivarian Revolution. This involved also episodes of armed opposition and terrorism, quickly eliminated by the Armed forces and the Bolivarian Militia.

Since 2017, the newly elected Constituent Assembly declared the prospective to work on the Venezuela Constitution (and this is likely to be strengthened after the victory at 2018 election).
While clearly the new draft of constitution will not declare Venezuela a communist one-party state, it is likely the new constitution will contain references to socialism.


The current Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela inherited from the Cold War a number of western-designed warships including 6 (three currently kept in reserve) Italian-built frigates and 2 German-built frigates. With the Bolivarian Revolution, the Navy upgraded with 4 Spanish-built corvettes (rated “Oceanic Patrol vessels”) and three large patrol ships.
Interestingly all these new ships bear names of Native Indio tribes, but the fourth unfinished large patrol ship built in Venezuela (begun sea trials in 2018) was renamed “Comandante Eterno Hugo Chávez”. Also the Navy ordered from local Cuban shipyard the production of a series of landing crafts/Auxiliary vessels ( “Los Frailes” class): a number of new purchases recently were stopped by US-imposed “sanctions” to facilitate a downfall of the government.


NOTE: the page does not include a number of incidents of seizures of petty criminals (smugglers, drug traffic) on the rivers even if included the activity of small speedboats. The page however focus on larger ships incidents that often lead to the incorporation of seized boats/ships into the naval forces. All sources come from news, some events lacks details because military detailed documents are obviously unavailable and there is not yet literature covering these events.


16 February 2011
French Navy captured the smuggling boat Titán (cargo: 3,6 tons of cocaine) heading to Honduras. The operation, in international waters, was coordinated with Venezuela, but it was the French Navy to achieve the seizure with the frigate Germinal. Venezuelan Coast Guard ship Guaicamacuto was involved in receiving the ship and the 6 smugglers (one Colombian and five from Honduras).
The boat later incorporated into the Venezuelan Navy as auxiliary patrol boat San Carlos.

Photo of patrol boat San Carlos, stationed in Maracaibo after she was integrated into the naval forces

3 October 2016
Once again a naval cooperation with the French Navy against the drug traffic.
The French frigate Germinal intercepted the smuggling boat Rio del Caribe: most of the cargo thrown off board. Also this time, Venezuelan Coast Guard ship Guaicamacuto took care of bringing the seized boat to Venezuela and the 8 arrested smugglers (all Venezuelan citizens).

30 August 2019
The Guyana-flagged tanker Wanderer (282 GRT) (cargo: 302tons of fuel) seized by Patrol boat PG-61 TN Fernando Gómez de Saa. Not returned and integrated with the new name “La Asunción” as an auxiliary supply ship. The seizure was the first full-confirmed victory for the Venezuelan Bolivarian naval forces.

Built in Cuba after Dutch design, lead-ship of her own class (actually, she's the only one delivered before the "sanctions"): the patrol boat quickly become a very active vessel.

31 October 2019
The Honduras tanker Mayan Princess (1934 GRT) (cargo: 280tons of fuel) seized by the Venezuelan Coast Guard ship Guaicamacuto while smuggling oil north of Isla de la Blanquilla. In 2020, she was undergoing the process of incorporation into the naval forces (similarly to “Wanderer”), but name and optical number still unknown.

Smaller vessels, compared to the Guaiquerí class, but also ordered during the Hugo Chavéz's government: they soon become common participants in naval seizures and incidents.

30 March 2020
Venezuelan Coast Guard patrol ship Naiguatà intercepted the Portuguese-flagged cruise-ship RCGS Resolute (8445 GRT) believed to carry mercenaries to land on Venezuelan territory. After firing warning shots and attempting to drive the larger ship into Venezuelan harbor to seizure, the cruise-ship rammed and sunk the smaller patrol vessel. Photo evidence on the cruise-ship’s bow with minor damage indicate the point of collision. Subsequent video released by the Venezuelan Navy clearly show the cruise-ship kept sailing despite having the Naiguatà right on their bow with the imminent danger to sink or damage the much smaller ship. There were no casualties and the cruise-ship sailed away from Venezuelan waters.

3 – 4 May 2020
Macuto Bay Raid
The US Mercenary company “Silvercorp USA” attempted a seaborne landing to topple the Venezuelan government and to kill or capture the leadership.
Interestingly the whole operation turned a failure, largely to the ill-preparation of the mercenaries, their own divisions and an alert intelligence system of the Venezuelan forces and active participation of the navy. Patrol boat PG-61 TN Fernando Gómez de Saa (Daman design, built in Cuba) with two launches intercepted the speedboat La Gran Lismar on early hours of 3 May: she opened fire and chased the boat until capturing it with 4 men onboard. One men mercenary body was recovered from sea, and overall the enemy group suffered 6 killed, most apparently killed after landing on shore. The next day a second speedboat that had engine troubles was also captured with direct help of fishermen that alerted the authorities of the enemy location: other 8 mercenaries captured, including 2 American advisors.
Overall casualties after the immediate landing attempts include 6 killed (not 8 as reported at first) and 13 captured, but some other stragglers were captured between 5 and 6 May, raising the number of captured to 17.

9 May 2020
Venezuelan National Guard discovered and seized three speedboats of Colombian Army in Rio Orinoco, ARC-1160, ARC-1162, ARC-1823. The abandoned crafts had weapons and ammunition onboard; the Venezuelan government suspected a connection with the mercenary infiltration just occurred while Colombian government claimed they strayed by incident because “dragged by current”.

15 May 2020
Into Rio Orinoco River, Venezuelan Coast Guard riverine patrol boat PF-41 Guri seized the smuggler boat Miss Wendy, carrying a load of 1.2tons of fuel and arresting 7 smugglers.

Riverine patrol boat, built in Venezuela.
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 17 Jun 2020, 18:35
* Added seizure/capture incidents of last years that included ships taken by the Bolivarian Navy and integrated (or scheduled to be).
* Added new incidents occurred between March and May 2020, including the defeat of a mercenary landing attempt.
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