July 17, 2006
The Chilean Navy formally placed into service a ship that had been belonged to the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) for more than two decades. As an RNLN vessel, this ship was launched in 1984 and commissioned a couple of years. The vessel was named HNLMS (Her Netherlands Majesty’s Ship) Witte de With in honor of a longtime and prominent Dutch naval officer who served from 1616 to 1658 and participated in numerous battles at sea.
HNLMS Witte de With had been constructed at the shipyard Koninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde (the present-day location of Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding) in the Dutch municipality of Vlissingen. The ship was one of only two RNLN vessels to belong to that navy’s Jacob van Heemskerck class of frigates. The other ship in this class was named after Van Heemskerck, another renowned Dutch naval officer; his accomplishments during his military service in the late 16th century and early 17th century included helping to lead one of the first major explorations of the Arctic region.
As an RNLN ship, HNLMS Witte de With represented the Netherlands in the festivities for the Australian Bicentenary in Sydney in 1988; and took part in the operations of the allied coalition forces during the Gulf War in 1990-91. After being decommissioned in May 2006, the ship was sold to the Chilean Navy. In her new life as part of another naval fleet, she was renamed Capitán Prat. Agustin Arturo Prat Chacón was a 19th-century Chilean naval officer. Prat, who attained the rank of corvette captain (the equivalent of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy), fought with distinction in several major naval engagements during his military career. He has since become one of Chile’s most revered heroes.
The ship formerly known as HNLMS Witte de With was the fifth Chilean Navy vessel named after Prat. This most recent version of Capitán Prat (pennant number FFG-11) remains in active service today.
Additional information on the Chilean Navy ship Capitán Prat (formerly HNLMS Witte de With in the Royal Netherlands Navy) is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HNLMS_Witte_de_With_(1984).