Historia y Arqueologia Marítima


Indice Armada Paraguaya  Indice Armadas Sudamericanas

TACUARI- de yate a vapor británico a barcaza de carga naval Paraguaya

By Dipl.-Ing. Hartmut Ehlers - fotos del autor

The beginning of an unusual career, the vessel was built 1907 by Messrs. T. & J. Hosking, Ireland, as the steel-hulled yacht Clover[i].

She arrived in Paraguay in November 1911 together with Constitución, a former ocean-going freighter converted into gunboat, and the transport General Díaz. The three vessels had been bought in Europe to support an abortive attempt in early 1911 to overthrow the Jara regime, but arrived too late. She was incorporated in the Paraguayan Navy as gunboat Adolfo Riquelme, named after a politician killed at Rosario in March 1911 during the revolt against Jara.

She served at times as a training ship. During a refit in 1924/25 that included modifications to the superstructure, a mainmast was also stepped which she initially did not have. Another big refit in 1927-30 brought visible alterations to the funnel top only. She was renamed Tacuarí on 30 July 1930.

She was slipped again in May 1931 for urgent repairs to her bottom structure and re-launched on 28 July 1932 after accelerated works because the Chaco War with Bolivia had commenced. She already made her first trip north on 5 August 1932 with the barges Irene and Bahía Negra, transporting elements of the 3rd Artillery Group to the front. Tacuarí was back at Asunción on 13 August where the last repairs were finished and sailed again on 18 August. She then came under the command of the 3rd Army Division HQ at Bahía Negra.

On 22 December 1932, while at Bahía Negra with boiler fires extinguished as a fuel (wood) saving measure, Tacuarí was at 1100 hrs attacked by 2 Bolivian Curtiss CW.19R Osprey planes and one Curtiss Hawk II that came from Fortín Vitriones. The planes dropped 3 bombs, one of which exploded just 20 m away. They re-assembled over Brazilian territory for a second attack, now strafing and dropping 6 small bombs. During the third attack with 6 bombs and strafing fire again, Tacuarí managed to hit one Osprey with her 37mm guns. It parted the formation, trailing black smoke, and eventually crashed on Brazilian territory. Of 15 bombs dropped, 11 exploded near the ship. The commander of the Northern Sector, Coronel José Julian Sánchez, was killed during the attacks by a bomb splinter as the sole casualty, and the crew miraculously remained unscathed. The surviving two Bolivian planes repeated the bomb attack twice on 24 December, at 0800 and 1700 hrs, but were repelled without having inflicted damage to the ship that now was able to take evasive manoeuvres. There were several wounded from strafing fire, however. The actions of 22 and 24 December produced a total of 29 splinter holes and 45 bullet holes.

Tacuarí was relieved from her Bahía Blanca station in mid-February 1933 by the small aviso Teniente Herreros. Note: According to one Paraguayan secondary source, it was the aviso Coronel Martínez that relieved her and not Tte. Herreros. Several other transport missions followed, and Tacuarí logged a total of 47 trips during the war, transporting (together with towed barges) 6,602 Paraguayan troops, 230 passengers, 480 Bolivian prisoners, 1,258 animals, and 1,653 t of cargo

After the war, Tacuarí served again as a training ship and occasionally also as a transport until in 1938 the Naval Command ordered her converted into a yacht for President Estigarribia. In 1939, she was put on the slipway of the Naval Arsenal Asunción. However, after the accidental death of Estigarribia in 1940, the works were canceled. During 1944/45, Tacuarí then was stripped of her engines and most upperworks and adapted as a cargo barge at the Naval Arsenal Asunción. Accordingly, she was in 1945 removed from the list of the Gunboat Flotilla list and allocated to the Naval Transport Service.

In 1949, a decision was made that she be reconstructed as an armed naval auxiliary capable of transporting cargo and passengers with sufficient range to operate between the Upper Paraná River and Buenos Aires. After a long time of inactivity since 1949, two propulsion diesel engines were purchased in 1952, and only in 1966 followed the purchase of generator sets and auxiliary machinery. Her total conversion cost was estimated at Gs. 8,668,900, according to a source of 1962. Meanwhile, President Stroessner had ordered the vessel rebuilt into her original state as gunboat again so as to have a national relic. However, the plan failed to materialize due to financial problems. Having spent lengthy periods on the arsenal slipway between 1952 and 1966, she could be re-launched on 30 December 1966 just in time to clear the site in conjunction with the beginning graving dock construction. Tacuarí was still listed late 1978 as a self-propelled transport.

The ship was again converted into a dumb cargo barge with the name Chata 1 (CH-1) in 1979/80 with a deckhouse aft and two cargo hatches, and delivered in August 1980. Since that month she never has had another docking and painting. She was later renumbered CH-10 and again given the name Tacuarí. Listed as out of service a Paraguayan fleet list of 30 Nov 1999, she appeared in a slightly earlier list of COAPCOM, the Combat Support Command, as "in regular state" and "under repair". The hull was still extant in April 2003, lying high and dry at the premises of COMTRANAV, the Naval Transport Command at Sajonia. 

Technical data

Displacement:      ~260 t light, ~310 t normal, ~360 t max. as a gunboat[ii]; 400 t max. as a transport

Dimensions:         Length 39.38m pp, 41.00m oa, breadth 7.32m (7.63m max), depth 3.25m, draught 1.5 m light, 1.68m normal, 1.83m max. as a gunboat; 2.40 m max. as a transport

Main machinery:  2 x vertical compound steam engines, 250 ihp (187 kW), 2 Yarrow boilers, 2 shafts;
coal 40 tons max. (as built), operating with wood during the Chaco War;        
finally two 4-stroke 6-cyl. diesels MaK MSu 36, each 136 kW (185 PS) at 375 rpm, 2 shafts (transport)

Speed:                 10, max. 13 knots (steam propulsion)

Electric:                2 diesel generators Deutz, each 30 kVA, 230V AC; 1 diesel generator Deutz 4.5kVA, 220V, 15A AC (as transport)

Complement:        74 (12 officers, 62 men) in 1915

                             55 (7 officers, 48 men) in 1926

Armament:           2-76mm Vickers, 2-57mm Hotchkiss, 2-37mm (2pdr) Maxim in 1926; 2-76mm Vickers, 2-63.5mm Armstrong (2½in),

                           2-37mm (2pdr) Maxim in 1929[; 2-76mm Vickers, 2-37mm (2pdr) Maxim , 2 MGs in 1932-35;  none as a transport



                   [i].. Contemporary naval reference books state a wooden hull, but it always has been steel.

                   [ii].. Displacement 270 ts and 5½ ft max. draught as per U.S. Naval Attaché Report No. 201 of 26 July, 1929. 420 ts and 5 ft draught as per U.S. G-2 report No. 231 of 5 Aug, 1926, and U.S. Naval Attaché Report No. 595 of 18 Dec, 1926. Jane’s 1939 even gives 150 ts and 6 ft draught. The author as a practising naval architect has tried to derive the shown figures, from data of the most reliable sources, as the most likely ones for a vessel of the type on the basis of contemporary lines and hydrostatic parameters.

                   [iii].. As per U.S. G-2 report No. 231 of 5 Aug, 1926.

                   [iv].. As per U.S. Naval Attaché report No. 201 of 26 July, 1929.



Este sitio es publicado por Carlos Mey -  Martínez - Argentina