Australian Defence Ministry has officially transferred two Adelaide (Oliver Hazard Perry)-class guided-missile frigates to the Chilean Navy. A commissioning ceremony took place on April 15, 2020 at the HMAS Watson naval base in Sydney. The ex-Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigates, Melbourne (FFG 05) and Newcastle (FFG 06), based on the US-made Oliver H. Perry-class frigate, were withdrawn from service in 2019 and bought (second-hand) by Chile in December 2019. The vessels are intended to replace two recently decommissioned ex-Royal Netherlands Navy Latorre (Jacob van Heemskerck)-class air-defence frigates that were built in the 1980s and acquired by Chile in 2004.
The two frigates, which have been renamed Almirante Latorre (FFG 14) and Capitan Prat (FFG 11), are undergoing a basic refit at Garden Island shipyard, in Sydney. The Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) will be removed in Australia, and the Thales Goalkeeper CIWS along with the other standard equipment, will be refitted after the ships arrive in Chile. Crew training is under way at the RAN’s Training Fleet Support Unit Sydney (FSU-SE) at HMAS Kuttabul and will continue until May. However, due to the ongoing situation of Covid-19 pandemic, the date of final transfer of the vessels to Valparaiso has yet to be confirmed.
The Adelaide class was a ship class of six guided-missile frigates constructed in Australia and the United States of America for service in the Royal Australian Navy. Canberra and Adelaide were paid off in 2005 and 2008 respectively, and later sunk as dive wrecks: their decommissioning was to offset the cost of a A$1 billion weapons and equipment upgrade to the remaining four ships. Sydney was decommissioned in late 2015, after spending most of the year as a moored training ship. Darwin was decommissioned in late 2017, Newcastle in June 2019 and Melbourne the last in October 2019. The Hobart-class air-warfare destroyers progressively replaced the last four frigates from 2016 onwards.
From the withdrawal of the Perth-class destroyers in 2001 until the introduction of the Hobart-class in 2017, these ships were the RAN’s primary air defence vessels. They also have significant anti-surface capability, being armed with a 76-millimetre (3.0 in) Mk 75 gun and the Harpoon ASM, and a pair of triple torpedo tubes for ASW. In addition, two S-70B Seahawk helicopters are carried. These ships were used primarily by the Australian Navy as air defense vessels, armed with a Mark 13 missile launcher for SM-2 missiles. They also have significant anti-surface capability, being armed with a 76-millimeter Mk 75 gun and the Harpoon ASM, and a pair of triple torpedo tubes for ASW. In addition, two S-70B Seahawk helicopters are carried.