MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Uruguay is expanding its naval forces to protect its extended territorial waters.
El Observador reported Tuesday that the government of Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez has extended the country's maritime exclusive economic zone from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles. In order to secure the EEZ's potential mineral and hydrocarbon wealth, the Vazquez administration is considering the purchase of additional naval patrol vessels to monitor the nation's maritime domain, particularly waters between Punta del Este and El Chuy, where companies are currently prospecting for gas and oil.
The navy is also looking at expanding the duration of its naval patrols in order to safeguard the area. Official sources told El Observador that the administration is not only considering purchasing new ships for the coast guard and the navy but vessels with helicopter platforms as well as new reconnaissance aircraft. To that end in August the Uruguayan government bought two aircraft with advanced technology from Sweden.