Portsmouth-based helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious is to join a relief effort in the Philippines.
HMS Daring, one of the Royal Navy’s new destroyers, is already steaming towards the typhoon-torn islands, as the struggle to get medical aid to those affected continues.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced HMS Illustrious’ change of course from the Gulf on Twitter, revealing at the same time that the UK’s relief fund has passed the £20m mark.
Typhoon Haiyan, which hit on Friday, killed at least 2,300 people.
Speaking during a visit to India, the Prime Minister said the ship will replace HMS Daring, which has already been deployed to the Philippines.
Its helicopters may be used to assist with the distribution of food and water to survivors stranded in remote locations in the far eastern archipelago state, and its facilities to make water drinkable are likely to be in demand in a country where supplies have been badly disrupted by the typhoon.
The Ministry of Defence said HMS Illustrious, which has been taking part in war-game operations, should arrive in the Philippines on November 24 or 25, with 900 crew and seven helicopters on board.
Mr Cameron said: ‘What happened in the Philippines is an absolute tragedy. You can see the devastation, the suffering, and it’s quite clear that we are going to need long-term help for those people.
‘As ever, the British people have been very generous with their donations.
‘The British government has already pledged over £20m, which makes us one of the most generous donors anywhere in the world.
‘But it’s practical action that’s needed as well. That’s why I sent HMS Daring to go and help in the Philippines and I can announce today that once Daring has started its work, we are actually going to be able to replace in time HMS Daring with HMS Illustrious, which is, of course, a carrier with helicopters – seven times as many helicopters as on HMS Daring and with the key ability to process fresh water, so we will be giving further assistance in the best way we can.’
The MoD was unable to confirm the current location of Illustrious but the Royal Navy reported the warship was in Muscat, Oman, on November 12.