Today in Transportation History – 1895: Argentina Gets a New Ship

The Argentine Navy ship ARA Buenos Aires was launched. The vessel, which Marine Engineer magazine characterized at the time as “a very remarkable cruiser,” was built by British manufacturer Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. Ltd. The launch of the Buenos Aires took place at the company’s shipyard in the city of Newcastle in northeastern England.

“She is of some 4,500 tons [4,572.21 metric tons] displacement, and has twin screws driven by engines of a collective force of 17,000 horsepower [17,235.78 metric horsepower], guaranteed to give her a speed of no less than 24 knots [27.62 miles per hour, or 44.45 kilometers per hour],” stated Marine Engineer in reporting on the ship’s launch. “Needless to say she will be the fastest cruiser afloat by something substantial.”

Nearly a year after being launched, the Buenos Aires sailed to Argentina to begin her service of more than three decades in that nation’s navy. She was used extensively as part of a fleet for naval exercises and also as a survey ship. In 1911, the Buenos Aires made a return trip to England to represent Argentina in an international fleet review celebrating the coronation of King George V. (“World’s Warships Greet Sailor King,” proclaimed a front-page headline in the Indianapolis Sunday Star.)

Ramón Franco c. 1926.

The Buenos Aires gained worldwide attention again in 1926, this time because of her role in a pioneering aviation accomplishment. A crew of aviators led by Spanish Navy Captain Ramón Franco had just completed the first transatlantic flight between Spain and South America, and it was the Buenos Aires that transported those men back to Spain.

“They came into the harbor [of Palos in Spain] on the battleship Buenos Aires, which was placed at their disposal by the Argentine government as part of its tribute to the daring which marked their flight from the start here on January 22 to the arrival in the Argentine capital on February 2,” reported the Associated Press (AP). “The Buenos Aires was met at sea by a squadron of Spanish warcraft and large numbers of private boats, gaily beflagged and blowing continuous whistle blasts of welcome.” King Alfonso XIII of Spain was on hand to welcome the Buenos Aires after she made her way into the harbor. “The king embraced the Argentine naval captain first,” confirmed the AP.

The Buenos Aires was removed from the Argentine Navy’s register of active ships in 1932. She was sold for scrapping about three years later.

For more information on ARA Buenos Aires, please check out

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