LONDON – Britain is sending one of its most advanced warships to the disputed Falkland Islands but the move is part of a routine operation, the government said Tuesday.
The destroyer HMS Dauntless will sail to the South Atlantic to replace frigate HMS Montrose in a few weeks, the Ministry of Defence said. The deployment has long been planned, but comes as tensions rise between Britain and Argentina over the status of the islands, which are a British dependency.
Foreign Secretary William Hague told Sky News HMS Dauntless’s that though the deployment is routine Britain’s navy “packs a very considerable punch.”
Last month, Argentina persuaded Brazil, Uruguay and Chile to join a Mercosur trade group resolution to turn away any ship flying the Falklands’ flag — which depicts a sheep and a ship along with the United Kingdom’s red, white and blue Union Jack.
Argentina claims sovereignty of the Falklands, some 460 kilometres east of its coast. British Prime Minister David Cameron has also recently stressed that the people of the Falklands must decide their own future and said Argentina is taking a colonialist approach to the islands’ residents.
London’s Foreign Office said Tuesday that junior minister Jeremy Browne will travel to the islands in June to mark the 30th anniversary of Britain’s brief 1982 war with Argentina over the territory. Browne will be the first foreign minister to visit the Falklands since 2008. Cameron’s office said the British leader had no plans to visit.