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Dominican Republic: The Navy
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Armed Forces Organization, Training, and Equipment > The Navy


A Dominican navy was first established in 1873, when the country acquired a gunboat built in Scotland. By the time the navy was disbanded in 1916, during the United States Marine occupation, the fleet had acquired only two more gunboats and four armed launches. Several elements of the navy were incorporated into the Dominican Constabulary Guard in 1917 to function as a small coast guard. The navy remained an element of the National Army until 1943, when the Dominican National Navy was formally established as a separate service. During the next year, the navy began activities at the naval base at Las Calderas; in 1948 a separate naval school opened there.

The navy expanded greatly after World War II, acquiring vessels from Canada and the United States. By 1950 the Dominican navy had become the most powerful in the Caribbean. Its personnel numbered 3,000, including one marine battalion. Naval capability remained relatively constant up to the time of the 1965 civil war, when naval units participated in the bombardment of Constitutionalist positions in Santo Domingo. After 1965, aging vessels were not replaced, and the naval inventory steadily declined.

As of 1989, the navy had approximately 4,300 personnel. These included one battalion of marines. Navy headquarters was located at the 27 de Febrero Naval Base in Santo Domingo. Other main naval bases were located at Las Calderas and at Haina, both of which had dockyard facilities.

The navy chief of staff supervised the operations of three geographical commands. The Santo Domingo Naval Zone administered the naval headquarters and the various naval organizations located in the capital. The Northern Naval Zone, at Puerto Plata, was responsible for the coast from the northern border with Haiti to the Mona Passage at the eastern tip of the country. The Southern Naval Zone, headquartered at Barahona, covered the territory from the Mona Passage to the southern border with Haiti.

National economic constraints had reduced the Dominican fleet, by 1989, to one offshore vessel and seventeen inshore vessels. Almost all were World War IIvintage craft of United States origin. The sole offshore vessel was a frigate modified for use as a presidential yacht and cadet training vessel. The frigate had been acquired from Canada in the late 1940s, and it was the only vessel in the fleet not of United States origin. The navy's inshore vessels consisted of five corvettes used for patrol duties, eleven large patrol craft, and one amphibious landing craft. Support vessels included two tankers, ten tugs, and one floating dock.

Naval enlisted personnel received instruction at the training center at Las Calderas. The Naval Academy at Las Calderas offered a four-year course to officer cadets.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Dominican Republic was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Dominican Republic Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 116 of 128


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