Historia y Arqueologia Marítima


Indice Armada Paraguaya  Indice Armadas Sudamericanas


Por el Ing. Harmut Ehlers     

APÉNDICE  B:  Insights into the Paraguayan Navy of the early 1940s - Organization, Personnel, Training, Miscellaneous 


          The Director General of the Navy was directly responsible to the Minister of National Defense, and indirectly responsible to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.  The Director General had direct supervision over 15 divisions of the Navy in addition to the General Staff.  The General Staff [Estado Mayor] had five departments, including the Transport Command (Dept. IV).  The first ten divisions were: Flotilla; River Defense and Prefecture General of Ports; Training Schools; Material and Arsenals (serving both Army and Navy); Naval Aviation (with a meteorological section); Bahía Negra Naval Base[i]; Hydrography & Navigation (maintaining 11 hydrometric points along the Paraguay River and two points on the Upper Paraná, handling all dredging problems for the government, and managing all aids-to-navigation); General Administration; Building Construction (with its own brick kiln); and Sanitary Service.  Divisions 11 to 15 consisted of the Chaplaincy, the Argentine Naval Mission, the Legal Advisor, the Inspector of Sanitary Service, and the Navy Band, all of which were organized directly under the Director General of the Navy. 

          The office of the Chief of Flotilla was vested in the commanding officer of the flagship Paraguay, who was supported by a general staff of three officers comprising the commanding officer of Humaitá and the executive officers of the two ships.  The Chief of Flotilla was directly responsible to the Director General of the Navy. 


          The following list gives the personnel strength of the Paraguayan Navy as of 12 April 1945 in condensed form and was taken from the records of Dept. I (Personnel) of the Paraguayan Navy General Staff:

Officers - all ranks, including seven aviators and one army officer                                                   202

Warrant Officers                                                                                                                            5

Chief Petty Officers                                                                                                                       36

Petty Officers 1st and 2nd Class                                                                                                         96

Petty Officers 3rd Class + lower (Maestres 2, Mayordomos)                                                             39

Seamen 1st and 2nd Class                                                                                                             92

Apprentice Seamen (Recruits)                                                                                                        1,347

                                                                                                                                               Total 1,817 

          The following list shows Paraguayan Navy ranks with pay and allowance figures as of 1943.  The ranks are given with the USN/RN equivalents, the exchange rate was 300 Pesos=$1 U.S.  In 1943 there was no Capitán de Navío (Captain) on the payroll.  By 1945 the ranks of Warrant Officer (e.g. Ayudante Naval de 3a, Técnico de Transmisiones de 3a), Mayordomo de Primera and Mayordomo de Segunda (under Maestres) also existed.  The ranks of Ayudante Primero/Segundo had by 1945 been re-designated Cabo de Primera/ Segunda. The classification "Piloto" formerly applied to river pilots only and was a commissioned rank in the Paraguayan Navy.  A recent decree (~1942) made all river pilots civilian specialists and placed them in an auxiliary department of the Navy.  Decrees of this type could not be made retroactive, however, and those who were commissioned officer river pilots were retained and promoted as "Piloto" until retirement.  All newly-appointed river pilots were governed by the decree of about 1942 and classed as civilian specialists.

                                                                                                                                    Monthly Cash

                                                                       Monthly Pay                Same in            Allowance

Rank                                                                   Pesos                       Dollars Pesos

Capitán de Fragata                                             23,000                     $ 76.67                     1,000


Capitán de Corbeta                                             19,000                     $ 63.33                     1,000

(Lieutenant Commander)

Teniente de Navío                                                15,000                     $ 50.00                     1,000


Teniente de Fragata                                           12,000                     $ 40.00                     1,000


Teniente de Corbeta                                              9,000                     $ 30.00                     1,000

(Ensign/acting sub-lieutenant)

Guardiamarina                                                     7,000                     $ 23.33                     1,000


Piloto de Corbeta                                                19,000                     $ 63.33                     1,000

(Lieutenant Commander, Pilot)

Piloto de Segunda                                               12,000                     $ 40.00                     1,000

(Lieutenant, Pilot)

Piloto de Tercera                                                   9,000                     $ 30.00                     1,000

(Lieutenant (jg), Pilot)

Sub-Oficial Mayor                                                 3,500                     $ 11.67                     1,000

(Chief Petty officer)                                                                                                 if married

Sub-Oficial Primero                                              3,000                     $ 10.00                     1,000

(Petty Officer, 1st Class)                                                                                         if married

Sub-Oficial Segundo                                              2,500                     $  8.33          1,000

(Petty Officer, 2nd Class)                                                                                        if married

Maestre de Primera                                               2,000                     $  6.67          1,000

(Petty Officer, 3rd Class)                                                                                         if married

Maestre de Segunda                                              1,500                     $  5.00          1,000

(No equivalent)                                                                                                        if married

Ayudante Primero                                                    200                     $  0.67          none

(Seaman, 1st Class)

Ayudante Segundo                                                    150                     $  0.50          none

(Seaman, 2nd Class)

Conscripto                                                                  50                     $  0.17          none

(Apprentice Seaman (recruit))

Aviators [Piloto Aviador Militar, P.A.M.] received an additional 5,000 Pesos per month when in flying status.

 These salaries may appear ridiculously low, even by 1943 standards, but actually they were in accordance with other wage scales in Paraguay.  A cabinet minister received a salary of $135 a month; a good lawyer got $100 in legitimate fees; postmen received $16 per month; and telegraph clerks $10.  The wealthy people generally were importers and large land owners.

 One food ration per day, consisting of second rate beef, rice, sugar, and macaroni, was given to every officer and enlisted man.  All personnel enjoyed free medical, dental, pharmaceutical, hospital, and barber service.  The first four benefits also were available to the service men's families as well. There were no allowances for living quarters.


             Officers for the Paraguayan Navy were obtained from the naval cadets of the Military School (Escuela Militar).  Graduates of any Paraguayan High School (Colegio] were admitted.  Upon admission, the cadets could elect to pursue a naval or a military (army) course.  The first three years of study were the same for all cadets and included general courses in mathematics, languages, and history.  Special naval studies in seamanship, marine engineering, and gunnery continued for an additional four years.  The total duration thus was seven years, according to the source document (U.S. Naval Attaché, Asunción, Intelligence Report Serial 9-42 dated 28 November 1942, National Archives, Washington, D.C.)

             Upon graduation from the Military School, the naval cadets were commissioned Midshipman (Guardiamarina).  Thereafter, promotion was by written and oral examination. The normal period of service in each rank was in accordance with the following table:

 Ensign                                               2 years

Lieutenant (junior grade)                  4 years

Lieutenant                                        4 years

Lieutenant Commander                    5 years

Commander                                      5 years

Captain                                             Indefinite, as there were none in 1943

 The compulsory retirement age for all officers was sixty years.  Retirement for age in grade was at forty-five for lieutenant commanders, fifty for commanders, and fifty-five for captains.

             Sailors for the Paraguayan Navy were procured by conscription and also by volunteer enlistment.  At the ages of 18 to 20, all Paraguayans were compelled to serve two years in either the army or the navy.  Future conscripts were registered at the age of 17, and lists were posted throughout the country in July of each year showing those men who had to report for military service the following January.  In January of each year, the Director General of Recruiting and Mobilization (Director General del Servicio de Recrutamiento y Movilización) distributed the new conscripts among the army, navy, and the police force.  After serving the compulsory two-year period, the vast majority of conscripts returned to civil life.

             The training given to enlisted men in the navy depended on whether they were serving as conscripts or as volunteers. Conscripts assigned to the navy under the compulsory military training law had a very poor training if they were not fortunate enough to be assigned to the Naval HQ, to the marine battalion B.C.D.F., to ships, or to the school mentioned below. Volunteer enlisted men, however, received very good training.

          Volunteers could enlist already at the age of 14 by application for the School of Seamanship and Arts and Crafts (Escuela de Marinería y Artes y Oficios).  Entrance requirements for this school were as follows:

 ·         Paraguayan nationality,

·         14 to 17 years of age,

·         No chronic illness or physical defects,

·         To have completed the 3rd grade of primary school in Asunción or 4th grade of primary school in other communities,

·         To be an orphan or underprivileged,

·         To have a guardian in Asunción.

         There were no tuition, deposits, or fees.  No preference was given to sons of army or navy personnel. The 5-year course given in this school was divided into two periods of two and three years.  During the first period (to which conscripts were also assigned), general subjects related to military theory and practice were taught.  During the second period, subjects such as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and geography were taught, together with manual arts courses.

          The 5-year graduates received a reserve rating of "Maestre" in either seamanship or arts and crafts. Those who graduated in seamanship received a rating of either "Maestre de Infantería" or "Maestre de Artillería.”  Graduates of arts and crafts received the "Maestre" rating in one of the following specialties: Painting, decorating, mechanical drawing, boat and furniture carpentry, tailoring, masonry, lithography, hydrography, meteorology, machinery, marine motors, foundry, radio,  and electrotechnics.  Civilian instructors taught all academic and manual training subjects, while physical and military training was taught by naval officers.

          The school did not attempt to obtain employment for graduates.  The best graduates and the few conscripts who voluntarily remained in the navy were assigned to and trained in the Special Training School (Escuela de Especialidades de la Armada) and after a 4-year course graduated as petty officers. Their studies in the school were specialized along the lines of machinery, ordnance, and deck duties. Advancement through petty officer grades, subject to success in examination, occurred approximately every three years.  Petty officers with the educational prerequisites could, after completion of the four year course at the Special Training School, continue their studies for three years at the Military School and be commissioned as regular officers.

          A conscript who was AWOL (absent without leave) over 10 days was declared a deserter.  In the case of deserters, orders of capture were issued to all police and army posts. The penalty was usually six months in the Paraguayan Chaco or six months additional service. 

56  NA report no. R25-46 of 14 Feb, 1946, comments on the Bahía Negra Naval Base: “The obvious import­ance of Bahía Negra to Paraguay in the event of another war with Bolivia accounts for the maintenance of a naval garrison there. According to the Commandant, the sole mission of the Navy in Bahía Negra is to preserve the existing facilities of the base”. Bahía Negra at that time was a very remote outpost, being served by only one cargo-passenger vessel from Asunción per month. From time to time the Commandant supplemented this service by going in his launch [thus far unidentified] to Fuerte Olimpo to connect with the boats which called there from Asunción each week.


Este sitio es publicado por Carlos Mey -  Martínez - Argentina