HMNZS Wellington (F69)
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HMNZS Wellington just before she was sunk.
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Fate:||Sold to New Zealand|
|Career (New Zealand)|
|Fate:||Sunk as dive wreck in 2005|
|Class and type:||Leander class frigate|
HMNZS Wellington was a Leander class frigate of the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Originally commissioned in 1969 for the Royal Navy as HMS Bacchante, she joined the RNZN in 1982. She was decommissioned in 1999 and sunk in 2005.
On arrival in New Zealand, Wellington was decommissioned and entered an extended refit which ended in 1986. The limited modernization proved difficult and took an unexpected 4 years. When inspected prior to purchase in 1981, she was in the condition expected for a RN frigate after a dozen years service. However, in 1982 the frigate conducted a 4 month winter patrol in the post war Falklands exclusion zone with the other 4 RN unmodernised Leanders. Sea conditions in the Falkland exclusion zone meant more expensive hull repair was needed. Large-scale energy projects in New Zealand, particularly Marsden point, resulted in a loss of key dockyard staff and recruitment difficulties. The installation of additional fuel tanks to extend the range of South Pacific operations proved difficult and dirty work. A new gunnery control system (RCA-76),and surface and navigation radar were fitted, escape hatches enlarged and asbestos removed. The original estimated cost of transferring and refitting Bachantee and Dido to RNZN was $100m in 1981. By 1985 it reached $263m  Other minor changes were also made as a result of practical experiences of British frigates during the Falklands War.
Later refits saw new long range air surveillance radar in place of the old 965 bedstead and the original Seacat Missile removed and replaced by the Phalanx CIWS.
Like her sister-ship HMNZS Canterbury, HMNZS Wellington was stood to during the First Coup in Fiji in 1987 to evacuate New Zealand and other foreign nationals should the need have arisen.
In 1988, Wellington accompanied HMNZ Ships Canterbury, Endeavour & Waikato to Sydney, Australia to participate in the Bicentennial Salute to mark the 200th Anniversary of the settlement of Europeans in that country. Vessels from the navies of Australia, Britain, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, USA and Vanuatu were represented.
In 1994, Wellington contributed to the international Peace Keeping initiative in Bougainville along with sister-ship HMNZS Canterbury.
In 1995/1996, WELLINGTON deployed to the Arabian (Persian Gulf) on the first of the RNZN deployments supporting the MIF (Multinational Interception Force) enforcing UN sanctions on Iraqi trade through the Gulf. WELLINGTON successfully detained a number of vessels exporting dates from and attempting to import prohibited cargoes to Iraq.
Although the ship was due to be sunk at 3pm on 12 November 2005, this was delayed for 24 hours due to weather. The next day, the sinking was delayed by another 30 minutes due to the entanglement of a detonation cable under the frigate. At 3:30pm on 13 November, the ship was scuttled and took a minute and 55 seconds to sink. During a storm in February 2006, the ship broke up and is now lying in two sections on the seabed close to where it was sunk.
The depth of her keel is approximately 21 metres (69 ft), making the wreck accessible by Scuba divers using standard equipment.
- Christchurch Star, 1985 & Cmdr R.Martin (1985- interview, Salmond College).
- Christchurch Star 1985)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to HMNZS Wellington (F 69).|
- Sunken Treasure - TVNZ video segment on the sinking (14:40)
- Sink F69! (Dive the Trail - Wellington, Waikato, Canterbury)