HMS Achilles (F12)

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HMS Achilles (F12) at Chatham on 3 May 1981.jpg
Achilles at Chatham on 3 May 1981
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Achilles
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down: 1 December 1967
Launched: 21 November 1968
Commissioned: 9 July 1970
Decommissioned: January 1990
Identification: Pennant number: F12
Fate: Sold to Chilean Navy
Name: Ministro Zenteno
Namesake: José Ignacio Zenteno
Commissioned: 8 January 1991
Decommissioned: August 2006
  • Washed away by tsunami, February 2010
  • Scuttled March 2010
General characteristics
Class and type: Leander-class frigate
Displacement: 3,200 long tons (3,251 t) full load
Length: 113.4 m (372 ft)
Beam: 12.5 m (41 ft)
Draught: 5.8 m (19 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers supplying steam to two sets of White-English Electric double-reduction geared turbines to two shafts
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h)
Range: 4,600 nautical miles (8,500 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 223
Aircraft carried:

HMS Achilles was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy.[1] She was built by Yarrow at Glasgow. She was launched on 21 November 1968 and commissioned on 9 July 1970.[2] She was sold to Chile in 1991 and washed away from her berth at Talcahuano by a tsunami in February 2010. She was scuttled the following month by the Chilean Navy as a danger to navigation.

Service history[edit]

In 1970, Achilles deployed to the Far East where there was, at that time, a large British naval presence. She escorted a number of larger vessels while there, including the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle.

In 1974, Achilles joined the 3rd Frigate Squadron, and later that year deployed to the Far East on a nine-month deployment as part of Task Group 317.2. The task group visited a number of African ports on their way to the Far East and Indian Ocean, including South Africa, a visit that caused some controversy back in the UK at the time. The task group visited a variety of ports in the Far East and took part in a number of exercises. Achilles was active as a radio relay vessel during the fall of South Vietnam.

Upon the task group's return from the Far East, they made their way around the Cape of Good Hope to South America where a large exercise with the Brazilian Navy took place, which included the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. Achilles returned to the UK in June 1975. Later that year, Achilles collided with the Greek tanker Olympic Alliance while in the Dover Strait, causing a number of injuries, as well as heavy damage to Achilles' bow. The following year, Achilles joined the Fishery Protection Squadron during the Third Cod War with Iceland. During that year also, HMS Achilles was covertly deployed to Belize during the Guatemalan emergency.

After her deployment during the Third Cod War, Achilles went on a number of deployments including to the Persian Gulf as well as being involved in a number of naval exercises. In 1982, Achilles deployed to the West Indies as guardship. The following year, she deployed to the Falkland Islands to patrol the area in the aftermath of the Falklands War. Later that year Achilles took part in Exercise Orient Express, which took place in the Indian Ocean. She deployed to the Persian Gulf that same year.

By the late 1980s, Achilles career was coming to an end. In 1989 she joined the Dartmouth Training Squadron, and in a busy year became the first Royal Navy warship to visit East Germany as well as hosting a dinner to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate. In January 1990 Achilles decommissioned, ending her career, though only with the Royal Navy. However, the name Achilles lives on as TS Achilles, the Trowbridge branch of the Sea Cadet Corps. Sold to the Chilean Navy in 1991, she served until 2006 with the name Ministro Zenteno. From 2006 until late February 2010 she was in reserve.


On 27 February 2010 a tsunami associated with the 2010 Chile earthquake washed her several nautical miles from her berth in the Talcahuano naval base, towards the coastal city of Dichato. In March 2010, the Chilean Navy decided to sink the ship to ensure free navigation in the area where the ship had run aground. The mission was performed by the crew of the offshore patrol vessel Piloto Pardo.

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1970 1972 Commander Kelly Low RN
1972 1974 Commander Garth de Courcey-Ireland RN
1974 1975 Commander C J T Chamberlen RN MVO
1975 1977 Commander J F S Trinder RN
1977 1978 Commander N Rankin RN
1978 1979 Commander M F Bird RN
1980 1981 Commander Paul du Vivier RN
1981 1982 Commander R A Smith RN
1982 1984 Commander A S Ritchie OBE RN



  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
  • Marriott, Leo, 1983. Royal Navy Frigates 1945-1983, Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 07110 1322 5

External links[edit]