HMNZS Wellington was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy (RN) and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Originally commissioned in 1969 for the Royal Navy as HMS Bacchante, she joined the RNZN in 1982.
On arrival in New Zealand, Wellington was decommissioned and entered an extended refit which ended in 1986. The limited modernization proved difficult and took an unexpected 4 years. When inspected prior to purchase in 1981, she was in the condition expected for an RN frigate after a dozen years’ service. However, in 1982 the frigate conducted a four-month winter patrol in the post-war Falklands exclusion zone with the other four RN unmodernised Leanders. Sea conditions in the Falkland exclusion zone meant more expensive hull repair was needed.
Like her sister-ship HMNZS Canterbury, Wellington was stood to during the First Coup in Fiji in 1987 to evacuate New Zealand and other foreign nationals should the need have arisen.
In 1988, Wellington accompanied HMNZ Ships Canterbury, Endeavour and Waikato to Sydney, Australia to participate in the Bicentennial Salute to mark the 200th Anniversary of the settlement of Europeans in that country. In 1994, Wellington contributed to the international Peace Keeping initiative in Bougainville along with Canterbury.
In 1995/1996, Wellington deployed to the Persian Gulf on the first of the RNZN deployments supporting the MIF (Multinational Interception Force) enforcing UN sanctions on Iraqi trade through the Gulf. Wellington successfully detained a number of vessels exporting dates from and attempting to import prohibited cargoes to Iraq. The frigate attended peace talks at Bougainville in July and August 1990. On 23 February 2017, it was announced by NZDF that the New Zealand Operations Service Medal (NZOSM) had been awarded to personnel who were in Bougainville for the Operation BIGTALK peace talks.
HMNZS Wellington was deliberately sunk off the south coast of Wellington, New Zealand, in Houghton Bay, just east of Island Bay, Wellington.
Although the ship was due to be sunk at 3pm on 12 November 2005, this was delayed for 24 hours due to weather. The next day, the sinking was delayed by another 30 minutes due to the entanglement of a detonation cable under the frigate. At 3:30pm on 13 November, the ship was scuttled and took a minute and 55 seconds to sink. During a storm in February 2006, the ship broke up and is now lying in two sections on the seabed close to where it was sunk.