THE Royal Navy's Falkland Islands protection ship has been turned away from port in Rio de Janeiro in a sign that Brazil's new left-wing government could back Argentine claims to the islands.
Despite continuing tensions with Argentina over the Falklands, the navy had enjoyed cordial relations with Brazil.
But, within days of a change of government in the South American country, HMS Clyde was refused permission to stop in Rio.
The Portsmouth flotilla patrol vessel was forced to dock later in Chile. It is the first time Brazil has refused permission for a British ship to dock in such circumstances and the decision appears to be a clear indication Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, wanted to send a message to Britain and Argentina over the Falklands.
She is due to visit Buenos Aries at the end of this month in her first international trip, with closer trade relations due to be discussed.
The decision to block the navy ship from docking 'satisfied' the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires, according to Argentine newspaper, Clarin.
Argentina has repeatedly asked its neighbouring countries to deny navy warships access to their ports.
Uruguay has twice stopped British ships mooring in Montevideo to show solidarity with Buenos Aires.
Most recently, Portsmouth-based HMS Gloucester, a Type 42 destroyer, was banned from entering Montevideo in September for supplies and fuel despite having been authorized days before.
The Foreign Office said: 'Brazil did not grant diplomatic clearance this time. We respect the right to make such a decision. We have a close relationship with Brazil.'