HMS Dauntless Deployed To Falkland Islands Amid Rising UK-Argentina Tensions
The Royal Navy is sending one of its most advanced warships to the South Atlantic, as Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne revealed he would visit the Falkland Islands in June.
Browne is due to make the trip to mark the 30th anniversary of the island's liberation following the Argentinean invasion in 1982.
His visit may further inflame tensions in the region, amid an escalating diplomatic war of words between London and Buenos Aires over the sovereignty of the islands.
"I'm going to coincide with the conclusion of the Falklands war," he told Reuters on Tuesday. But Browne said he hoped Argentina would not view his visit as a provocative act.
"I hope they will see it for what it is, which is a recognition of the valour and sacrifice of British soldiers and the Falkland islanders themselves in the liberation of the islands 30 years ago and also a wider commemoration of the sacrifice made more generally, including by Argentinians," he said.
The Lib Dem will be the first Foreign Office minister to visit the islands since 2008. Browne, minister for Latin America, last visited the region in October when he inaugurated the second Accessorize store in Mexico City.
HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, joined the fleet in November 2010 and will replace HMS Montrose, an older Type 23 frigate, on patrol in the coming months.
"The Royal Navy has had a continuous presence in the South Atlantic for many years. The deployment of HMS Dauntless to the South Atlantic has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces another ship on patrol," a Royal Navy spokesman said.
The spokesman told the Huffington Post that it "just so happened" that the more advanced destroyer was replacing a frigate at this time.
South American nations recently banned ships flying the Falklands Islands flag from docking at their ports in a sign of solidarity with Argentina.
Argentina has also reacted angrily to the decision to send Prince William to the islands as part of his tour of duty as an RAF search and rescue pilot.
The rise in tension comes as the 30th anniversary approaches of the successful British mission to recapture the islands following an Argentine invasion.
The former head of the British Army, Sir Mike Jackson recently warned that British military forces would be unable to retake the island were Argentina to invade.
He said said it would be "just about impossible" to mount a successful mission to reclaim the islands without aircraft carriers.
HMS Dauntless is the second ship of the Type 45 class of air defence destroyer built for the navy. It's sister ship, HMS Daring, was deployed to the Gulf earlier this month as the West stepped up its war of words with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.