(some parts taken from Shipbucket.com)
|Displacement (Standard)||23,270 tons|
|Displacement (Full Load)||26,320 tons|
|Performance||Speed (max)||32.5 knots|
|Speed (Cruising)||15 knots|
|Endurance||9,000 nm. at 15 knots|
|Armament||Long range SAM||128 Jabiru II|
|Short range SAM||96 Falcon|
|Guns||8 4.7 inch L70|
The Admiral Pratt class cruisers were partly a response to the Argentine and Brazilian acquisition of surplus U.S. Essex class carriers, partly an attempt to provide a modern cruiser force and partly pure opportunism in picking up a pair of ships that were well-suited to Chilean needs but nobody else appeared to want.
They owed their existence to a long debate in Australian naval circles over the future of the Australian cruiser fleet. During the 1950s and early 1960s, this had been based around the old ex-British County and Leander class cruisers with 8 inch and 6 inch guns respectively. This fleet was seriously obsolescent and was also a powerful manpower drain. The Australians had built four relatively small but well-armed cruisers, the ANZAC class. The question was, what line of development would the Navy follow to replace the cruiser fleet? This led to another question, were cruisers necessary at all?
The first attempt at an answer to this question produced a much-enlarged ANZAC cruiser, armed with a naval version of the 7.5 inch Kunchi gun. This was a very formidable cruiser, probably a match for the American Des Moines class for sheer firepower, but nobody could quite decide how it fitted into Australia's evolving Naval needs. Although several attempts were made to put it into the building program, eventually it was realized that the class would be a white elephant and it was abandoned. This led the Australians to consider what they actually required from their cruisers. Essentially the task boiled down to the need for a fleet flagship to control operations in Australia's strange maritime quasi-empire, a powerful self defense capability against air and submarine attack and the ability to land a significant force of troops to quell native unrest.
The new-style cruiser that came out of this debate was a hybrid with a large flight deck and in-hull hangar aft and two twin launchers for Jabiru II missiles forward. The hangar had a capacity for eight Rotodynes giving the ships the ability to land a company-sized force by air while also maintaining ASW patrols. The horizontal magazines forward held 64 Jabiru-II missiles each, providing the ships with formidable anti-aircraft firepower. The resulting design was very large and very expensive and could only be considered if it was assumed that a relatively small number of these ships would replace the whole of the existing cruiser fleet. This logic was accepted and four of the ships were ordered in 1966. Construction started in 1967 and the first pair were to be launched in 1970.
In 1969, the bills for the operations in Mindanao and Burma were beginning to come in and that coincided with a change of government. The new government was averse to naval expenditure and in particular was most unwilling to continue with these cruisers. The four under construction were cancelled and the cruiser role devolved to a modified version of the highly successful Wellington class destroyers. These became the Wellicruisers. The four incomplete hulls were offered first to other Triple Alliance countries, then to the Commonwealth and finally to anybody who wanted them. Two ships were purchased by South Africa to replace its old Edinburgh class cruisers while the other pair were snapped up by Chile.
The Chileans were most impressed by the new ships and they quickly became the centerpiece of the Chilean Navy, usually each ship forming the center of a squadron with two Almirante Condell class destroyers.
|Almirante Pratt (ex-Victoria)||1966||1967||1970||1974||Still in service|
|Almirante O'Higgins (ex-Tasmania)||1966||1967||1970||1974||Still in service|