HMS Dauntless destroyer deployed to Falklands by navy

HMS Dauntless The £1bn ship is among the largest and most powerful air defence destroyers built for the navy

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HMS Dauntless is to be deployed off the coast of the Falklands Islands in the South Atlantic, the Royal Navy has confirmed.

The Portsmouth-based ship will be the first of the navy's new Type 45 air defence destroyers to go to the area.

The Ministry of Defence said it was a routine deployment and HMS Dauntless would replace a frigate currently stationed there.

A MoD spokesman said he would not say when the ship was due to set sail.

He added that the deployment had nothing to do with increased tensions between the UK and Argentina about who owns the Falklands Islands.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said it was standard for the UK to have a permanent military presence in the region, which usually included a frigate, a patrol boat and occasionally a submarine, as well as troops and fighter aircraft.

Our correspondent said he did not believe the decision to send HMS Dauntless was a case of the government trying to flex its military muscle.

However, he did say it would "undoubtedly increase tensions".

The move comes ahead of Prince William's deployment to the region as an RAF search and rescue pilot, and the 30-year anniversary of the start of the Falklands conflict.

Dauntless is the second of six new design destroyers being built for the Royal Navy, all of which will be based in Portsmouth.

Type 45 destroyers have nearly twice the range - about 7,000 miles - and are 45% more fuel efficient than the Type 42 destroyers they are replacing in the £6bn project.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "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."

Meanwhile, the government has ruled out bringing in a law to ensure the Falkland Islands' right to remain British.

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said existing UN rules already offered protection against ongoing territorial claims made by Argentina.

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