THE Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless is due to visit the Falklands ‘within weeks’.
A source familiar with the ship’s programme told The News she is due to sail south to conduct routine training exercises near the contested territory with Argentina.
The £1bn warship left Portsmouth in April as commemorations were held to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. The timing of the deployment sparked protests in Argentina after the country’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made repeated calls for Britain to hand over the islands.
Since leaving Portsmouth, Dauntless has been on patrol off the coast of west and south Africa. She recently called in to Cape Town for mid-deployment maintenance and has previously visited Sierra Leone and Ghana.
In May, she trained with troops from Gambia, Senegal and Morocco to share knowledge tackling piracy, illegal fishing and the trafficking of drugs, weapons and people.
On leaving Cape Town, Dauntless will cross the Atlantic to visit the Falkland Islands for the first time. She is the first Type 45 destroyer to go to the South Atlantic.
The ships are billed as the most advanced warships in the world and can carry up to 48 Sea Viper missiles which are capable of striking multiple targets travelling at three times the speed of sound.
The navy has stressed the deployment is routine and not in response to Argentina.
An MoD spokesman refused to discuss ship movements.