Australia has officially transferred Adelaide Class frigates Melbourne and Newcastle to the Chilean Navy during a commissioning ceremony on 15 April at HMAS Watson Naval Base in Sydney.
The two frigates were retired from service by the Royal Australian Navy in 2019, and bought second hand by the Armada de Chile, which has renamed them lmirante Latorre and Captain Pratt for Chilean Navy service.
The two ships have been purchased by Chile to replace its two ex-Royal Netherlands Navy Jacob van Heemskerck Class frigates, which were built in the mid 1980s and bought by Chile in 2005, and withdrawn from service in December 2019.
Melbourne and Newcastle were built in Australia between 1985 and 1993 under licence from the US and withdrawn from RAN service in June and November 2019, respectively. They are equipped with RGM-84J/L Harpoon Block II missiles, SM-2MR Block IIIA Standard and RIM-162B Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESSM) surface-to-air missiles, an Oto Melara Mk 75 76 mm/62 Compact Gun, the ADACS combat management system, Eurotorp MU90 torpedoes, and a Spherion hull-mounted sonar.
The two frigates 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.
Australia had six Adelaide Class frigates in service, of which four were built in the US with the other two being built under licence in Australia. The Adelaide Class is now being replaced by the Hobart Class AWDs.
Melbourne and Newcastle are among the four frigates of the class that were upgraded with the addition of an eight-cell Mk 41 VLS with 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, and the Standard Missile SM-2 (as well as radar and sonar upgrades).
Interest in acquiring these two frigates, which are relatively in good technical condition, has been expressed by several countries since 2017, including Poland and Greece, but they were finally bought by Chile.