With a long coastline totaling 6,435 km (3,999 miles), Chile has always been a maritime nation and highly dependent on its ties and resources from the sea.
Scotsman Lord Thomas Alexander Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775-1860), then a retired captain in the British Royal Navy, was called upon in 1818 by the newly independent Republic of Chile to oversee the creation of its maritime fighting force and was named its first Admiral. Cochrane prepared the country's first warships, recruiting crews, appointing officers (most of whom were originally British) and developing the fleet into a fearsome navy. He died in London in 1860 and is buried in the nave of Westminster Abbey.
Throughout its history, the Chilean Navy has always risen to the challenge of protecting Chilean waters and maritime transport, providing efficient communications and contributing to the development of infrastructure at the service of the Chilean nation. It has always maintained close ties to the Royal Navy and its traditions, organization and prestige reflect these links to this day.
Throughout the month of May, traditional ceremonies and commemorative events are celebrated throughout Chile that culminate on May 21 with the 'Day of Naval Glories', remembering the heroic deed of Arturo Prat and his comrades in the Iquique harbour. This date is also celebrated in the UK with a ceremony commemorating the life of Lord Cochrane and a celebration of the close and cordial relationship between the two countries' navies.