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Astillero Río Santiago began its activities on June 1 5 th , 1953 , by Decree No.10.627 which set forth the creation of Astilleros y Fábricas Navales del Estado (AFNE), a company formed by Astillero Río Santiago (ARS) and Fábrica Naval de Explosivos Azul (FANAZUL), subordinated to the Navy Department.
The context for its birth could not be more auspicious, the Second World War being over, with a flourishing National Industry, with the firm decision of the President Perón that " i n the future, ships must not only be Argentine due to the flag protecting them, but also because of the nationality of their shipyards " and with a recently created Merchant Marine, Astillero Río Santiago materialized the national defensive and economic needs of this booming Argentina.

The workmen inherited by Astillero lived in the area and felt linked to the Naval Base by tradition, passing their craft from fathers to sons. That identification with the Institution based on the work culture, on the pride of this tradition and of the symbol which entailed being a part of this Institution resulted in a motivated, disciplined and qualified human element.

At the same time that the construction of the shipyard progressed, the training of new personnel and improvement of the existing workers intensified, at every level and in every specialty, with a view to the future (workmen, technicians, draftsmen, designers, laboratory assistants, storekeepers, etc). The most important step for the fulfilment of this aim was the creation at Río Santiago of a craftsmen school. There entered apprentices between 14 and 16 years of age, leaving four years later as "workmen assistant". They received, outside working hours, technical instruction by primary school teachers and technicians from the establishment, and they learnt the craft they preferred under the guidance of an appointed foreman from the corresponding workshop.


Located in the historical city of Ensenada, Province of Buenos Aires, on the Río Santiago (Santiago River), opposite the Military Naval School, the Astillero Río Santiago covered 229 hectares and 55 ares, but the industrial complex occupied a surface of approximately 100 hectares.

The different buildings were joined by a net of tunnels for electrical power, steam and compressed air, reaching a length of over 5 kilometers.

The material storage yard and parking lot extended over a 40,000 square meter surface coated with an asphaltic layer, and the Shipyard's internal roads - also asphalt coated - covered a total of 70,000 square meters. There were also 7 kilometers of internal railroads, connected to the Ensenada line of the General Roca Railway.
When the construction was finished, Astillero Río Santiago had piping, blacksmithing, mechanical (turning and fitting), coppersmithing, electricity and sails, foundry and patterns, galvanoplastics, hot-galvanizing and accumulator, trimming and lumberyard, shipwrighting and painting workshops.
It also possessed strong logistical supports for an appropriate work performance, such as: cranes in slipways and berths, material yards, power plant (electric, steam, air power, etc.), fuel service, changing room, canteen, workmen control and place for 300 bicycles, purification plant and general fresh water service, general fire fighting service, storehouses, technical-administrative management, chemical and physical laboratory, garage, floating dock, floating crane and apprentice school.
Astillero Río Santiago had a steady growth during the first years. In 1969 its corporate name is changed, becoming a State Corporation. Between 1970 and 1976, it entered into a contract for and started the construction of 5 cargo vessels of a deadweight of 9 thousand tons (dwt) ordered by ELMA, 2 crude oil tankers of 60 thousand tons each for YPF, two 23,700 dwt bulk carriers and four 14,450 dwt cargo vessels, also for ELMA.

Through diverse licenses signed with companies such as BURMEISTER AND WAIN, SULZER, FIAT, CHARMILLES ATELIER, BRISONNEAU ET LOTZ MARINE or COCKERILL-OUGREE, ARS built diesel engines and cranes for its vessels and for other shipyards and light rail motor tractors for Ferrocarriles Argentinos (Argentine Railways). It also built elements for hydraulic turbines, nuclear components - under Canadian Atomic Energy license - and railway bogies - under American Steel Foundry license.

In the mid 1970s its workforce was of approximately 5,500 employees and around 3,000 with contract by different subcontractor companies directly involved with production.

Throughout these 50 years ARS has gone through several conflictive moments. These are like inflection points when the "pro-shipyard" spirit of its people is reflected, moments when the individual wills are fused into a collective will with the sole purpose of keeping the company open and productive.
Born during the "peronismo" ( N. de T.: Political party deriving its name from Col. Juan Domingo Perón) , it is not by chance that Astillero Río Santiago is hotbed for unionists and militants from different political parties. Therefore its workers always were class conscious and systematically defended their achievements. It is thanks to them that the company overcame the privatizing wave which attacked it during the early 1990s. Some of the measures taken by the workers to collect outstanding salaries and to make themselves heard and prevent privatization were a 5 day permanence in the factory in 1987, movilizations to different points of Capital Federal, the eviction of the factory's occupation by the Albatros group and a picket which cut the access roads to La Plata in the year 1992.
The shipyard was provincialized in the midst of the privatizations which ravaged the Ensenada, Berisso and La Plata industrial area, making companies such as Copetro and Maleik dissapear and causing the privatization of YPF and Petroquímica General Mosconi (today in the hands of Repsol - YPF). At that time what was most felt was the corporative spirit of the Union (ATE) which led the workers to go out to the streets and fight for an open shipyard, keeping its operative capacity and in the hands of the State.

In the contract whereby the Shipyard is transferred from the Nation to the Province it is said that the creation of a Free Zone is convenient, and thereby ARS lost more than half of its premises, including the workers canteen, workshops such as foundry, light rail motor tractors, bogies, automobiles, the plate yard, patterns, fire-fighting, heavy coppersmithing, wood drier, the power plant, quality laboratories, the clubhouse, the changing room and the infirmary.

It currently occupies 23 hectares with 10,000m 2 of buildings. It is important to highlight that the Shipyard is struggling to recover everything that was assigned to the La Plata Free Zone.


Since the late 1990s, different policies aimed at a take-off of the Shipyard and its positioning as exporting Company. A proof of this is the fact that the last two hulls which were delivered, and the recently launched one, were sold to a German owner.

The commitment of the workers towards the company remains complete, which today enables Río Santiago to take a position of leader shipyard, not only in the country but also in Latin America .


Botadura OnaTridente - 1996
Fragata Libertad en ARS - 2004