From 1818 and the early days of the Republic of Chile and from the legacy of Lord Cochrane and the first Naval Squadrons, our two countries have been closely linked through co-operation and mutual interests.
So it was fitting that 200 years from those tumultuous days a conference and dinner was held at the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard to commemorate the bicentenary of the Chilean Navy.
We were welcomed by Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, Chairman of the Trustees of the National Museum of the Royal Navy whose career was closely aligned to Chile.
Following the opening address The Earl of Dundonald introduced two speakers to present on his ancestor Admiral Cochrane. Professor Andrew Lambert and Vice Admiral Astorga, Commander Chilean Naval Operations, kept the audience enthralled with stories and pictures that brought to life the hero of Chile.
We then heard from Rear Admiral Nick Lambert of the Scott Polar Research Institute who gave the floor to Robert Headland from the University of Cambridge to speak on the Chilean involvement in the resucue of Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1916 with the ship Yelcho. The final talk by Professor Fernando Wilson looked at Chilean geopolitics in today’s context. Both these talks provided for a raft of questions from the audience.
The conference was closed by Admiral Rodolfo Codina, Chairman of the Corporation of Chilean Naval and Maritime Heritage and an agreement on UK and Chilean Naval heritage preservation and research.
The event was graced by His Excellency David Gallagher, the Chilean Ambassador, The Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Tony Radakin, members of the Chilean Naval Mission to the United Kingdom, British Naval Officers and ratings and many guests who had Chilean interests and connections.
Finally all guests were invited to a reception in the Victory Gallery with a musical display by the Royal Marines Band Corps of Drums.