Chile's long coast contributed to the development of a distinguished maritime tradition. The Chilean Navy accordingly has enjoyed an unusual primacy among the nation's armed forces, despite the army's formal status as the senior service. From its earliest days, the navy has operated under strong British influence. The navy, with a strength of 25,000--including conscripts and the Navy Infantry Crops (Marines), Naval Aviation, and Coast Guard)--divides the long Chilean coastline into four naval zones, headquartered in Iquique, Punta Arenas, Talcahuano, and Valparaíso.
Naval Aviation, with 750 personnel and a total of forty-five aircraft and forty-two armed helicopters, is organized into four squadrons: the General Purpose Squadron VG-1, the Helicopter Squadron VH-1, the Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron VP-1, and the Training Squadron VT-1. The principal naval air base is at Torquemada, twenty kilometers north of Viña del Mar. Chile assumes responsibility for maritime search and rescue in an area extending approximately 4,000
kilometers west of its coastline. It maintains search-and-rescue coordination centers at Iquique, Valparaíso, Talcahuano, Puerto Montt, and Punta Arenas.
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Created by John Pike
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Updated Friday, September 11, 1998 6:07:55 AM