The UK may have lost a £1bn order from Chile for new and surplus rigates because of the diplomatic fallout from the continued detention in the UK of Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.
The new ships are Type 23 frigates, of which two would have been built at Marconi Marine’s Scotstoun yard on Clydeside and at least two more would have been built in Chile.
The Royal Navy has ordered 16 Type 23s which will form the bulk of the UK’s frigate fleet, but the type has yet to be exported.
Naval newsletter Navint first reported that the order could be lost. It said unidentified British naval officers had made an unofficial approach to Chile through diplomatic channels to try and prevent a breakdown in naval relations between the countries. Ties have previously been close and resulted in Chilean help during the 1982 Falklands War.
The surplus ships Chile was willing to buy are the Type 22 frigates Boxer, Brave and London. Britain would stand to make more money from spares for the surplus frigates.