Armada de Chile Although neutral in WW2, Chile still possessed the third strongest fleet of South America and also the arguably most powerful battleship in the southern hemisphere.
The country had a fleet thrice the tonnage of 1939 back in 1914, notably with nine cruisers, two battleships, plus two dreadnoughts, six submarines, six large destroyers on order, and a dozen of other vessels. The arch-rival of Argentina has maintained a splendid navy through two arms race, being late for the dreadnought race as both her Almirante class super-dreadnoughts were ordered too late and requisitioned by the Royal Navy in August.
After a career as HMS Canada, she was repurchased in 1920 with other destroyers also requisitioned and obtained in the meantime six H-class submersibles from the UK. The reconversion project of HMS Eagle in to Almirante Cochrane was abandoned. The links between the Chilean Navy and the Royal Navy were very strong however, akin the anglo-Japanese alliance. So much so that the Chilean Navy frequently looked like a “clone” of the RN in South America, down to the uniforms, academic training, doctrine, tactics and equipment, notably ships.
The most prestigious of the three armed forces branches inherited from an history of invincibility in past conflicts like the Pacific war of the 1880-90s, and prestigious admirals, such as the legendary Thomas Cochrane (10th Earl of Dundonald Cochrane), Scottish-born Mercenary captain of the young Chilean Republic during the Bolivarian era. Chilean ships were so well maintained that the US Government approached the Chilean Government to cede them the Almirante Latorre and some destroyers to replace the losses at Pearl Harbor in Dec. 1941.
However this prestige was not to last. In 1927 and ambitious naval plan (the last) called for an order of six modern destroyers, three submarines and a sub depot ship to British Yards as well as a modernization of the Almirante Latorre as part of a partnership with the yard. In 1931 however, the new government decided, with the country’s crippled economy after the 1929 world financial crisis, to curtail the navy’s wages down to 30%. This caused an uproar in the Navy, which a large part entered into mutiny.
The air attack on the Chilean squadron at Coquimbo, 1931. The ships are already departing.
This was serious enough for the loyalist Army and Aviation to intervene, the latter bombarding the squadron in an early example of air attack on a fleet at anchor. This demonstration was enough to quell the rebellion, but this badly damaged the navy’s prestige and thwarted any subsequent modernization program. Neutral Chile conducted neutrality patrol along its long Pacific coast, but contrary to Brazil never declared war on the axis.