Colombia’s celebrating the 190th anniversary of its National Navy, an institution that has defined the country’s history and has registered great feats for freedom. Why do we celebrate its creation on July 24th?
The feat that originated the National Navy occurred during the independence, when Admiral José Padilla faced Spanish troops lead by Commander Ángel Laborde at Lake Maracaibo (today, Zulia state in Venezuela).
This dispute is known as Lake Maracaibo’s Naval Battle and it put an end to Spain’s Reconquista intentions.
It is very important in the history of both nations, for it impeded the arrival of Spanish to Colombia and it gave Venezuela its final independence. Hundreds of creoles died during this war, but their sacrifice served as an example of honor for the new generations of vessels.
That is why the National Navy celebrates its founding on July 24th 1823, the day troops in the America’s were victorious.
Two centuries of glory
But the brave Colombian vessels’ history started long before Lake Maracaibo’s Naval Battle, when Mr. José María García Toledo, president of Cartagena’s Supreme Junta, created the General Command Headquarters of the Navy a couple of months after independence. The Nautical School, which later disappeared, was created in 1822 under General Francisco de Paula Santander’s command.
By the XX Century, Colombian naval activity resurged because of the conflict with Peru; the Cabin Boys School was founded in 1934 and the Cadet School in 1935. Both institutions continue to protect Colombians.
The Navy’s history is related to that of Cartagena’s. The institution was constituted in that city and its definitive pillars consolidated there 78 years ago.
The Navy today
Today, the Colombian Navy has a modern fleet of frigates, multipurpose ships, landing and transportation units, economic zone patrol boats, ocean patrol boats and bay patrol boats. About 35.000 men serve in the Navy.
Colombia’s naval force covers 49% of the national territory, spread among 589.160 square kilometers in the Caribbean Ocean, 339.500 square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean, 40.875 square kilometers in land in 8 coastal departments, according to the institution’s official numbers. Also, the Navy oversees 8.865 kilometers of navigable rivers.
Learn more about the National Navy and discover why, when it comes to security, the answer is Colombia.