ARA Bouchard is the lead ship of the OPV 87-class of four offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) purchased by Argentina. Credit: Naval Group.
ARA Piedrabuena, the second OPV, was launched in October 2020. Credit: Naval Group - Herve Moreau.
Naval Group delivered ARA Piedrabuena to the Argentine Navy in April 2021. Credit: Naval Group - Herve Moreau.
The three newly built OPVs are better armed than ARA Bouchard. Credit: Naval Group.

The Bouchard (OPV 87)-class naval vessels represent a series of four multi-mission offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) built for the Argentine Navy.

Supplied by the French defence contractor Naval Group, the OPVs are intended to support the Argentine Navy’s maritime safety and security missions.

The lead vessel in the OPV 87 series was originally built as a Gowind-class OPV for the French Navy, which operated the OPV for six years under the name L’Adroit. It was modernised and renamed ARA Bouchard and delivered to the Argentine Navy by the end of 2019.

The remaining three newbuild OPVs were delivered to Argentina between March 2021 and April 2022.

Design and features of Bouchard-class OPVs

Designed to provide high endurance and seaworthiness, the OPV 87 patrol vessels have a length of 87m, beam of 14m and displacement of 1,650t. Each OPV can accommodate 69 individuals, including 40 crew and 29 passengers, and carry two light crafts of 9m each as well as a 10t-class helicopter.

The Bouchard-class OPV provides 360° visibility from the bridge, while the mast of the vessel provides panoramic radar coverage.

The vessel is also outfitted with the necessary equipment for enabling the operation of airborne and water surface drones.

The modifications to the L’Adroit ship included an upgraded propulsion system and reinforced freshwater production capacity. The ship is also armed with a 30mm gun.

The remaining three ships feature an active stabilisation system and bow thruster and are capable of operating in the extreme conditions of Antarctica.

Electronic systems on board OPV 87

The electronic systems on board the ship include Sagem EOMS-NG electrooptical multi-sensor system, Terma Scanter search radars and Sagem SIGMA 40D inertial measurement unit.

Combat management system

The Bouchard-class OPV is equipped with Naval Group’s proven combat management system (CMS), Polaris, which provides awareness of tactical situations. The Polaris CMS includes the NiDL tactical data link system to enable monitoring and transmission of tactical situations and data.

Navigation system

The OPV is equipped with iXblue navigation solutions, including the Marins naval inertial navigation systems (INS) and Netans data distribution units (DDU).

Marins INS, based on iXblue fibre optic gyroscope technology, enable stealth autonomous navigation capabilities. They can provide accurate position, roll, pitch, speed and heading information even in global navigation satellite system (GNSS)-denied environments.

Netans DDU constitute another key component of the OPV’s navigation system by providing robust and accurate navigation information. The Netans series DDU acquire information from the ship’s sensors and analyse, correlate and distribute it to all on-board systems.

Performance of OPV 87

The OPV 87 vessel can perform missions in high seas for more than three weeks. It can achieve a maximum speed of 20k and range of more than 7,000nmi.

Orders and deliveries

Naval Group received a contract to supply four OPVs to the Argentine Navy in February 2019. The modernisation works of ARA Bouchard, the lead vessel of the OPV 87-class, were completed in ten months.

The company delivered ARA Bouchard to Argentina in December 2019. It also provided specific navigation training to the future crew of the vessel, as well as associated logistical and documentary support.

ARA Piedrabuena, the second vessel in the series, was delivered in April 2021, followed by the third OPV, ARA Storni, which was launched in May 2021 and delivered in October 2021.

Naval Group delivered the fourth and final OPV, named ARA Contraalmirante Cordero, to the Argentine Navy during a handover ceremony in April 2022.

The three new OPV 87 patrol ships were partially built in Lanester, France, by Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, while assembly took place at Piriou’s Concarneau facility in France.