Warship is barred from entering Uruguayan port

Share this article

A Portsmouth warship heading for the Falklands has been banned from stopping in Uruguay.

HMS Gloucester was heading to Montevideo for supplies and fuel and had been granted authorisation to call in at Uruguay's capital port.

But just a few hours before docking, officials from the Uruguayan foreign ministry told the Type 42 destroyer she was not welcome.

Details of the incident, which happened last week and potentially strains Britain's international relations with the country, emerged in Uruguayan newspapers today.

The decision is seen as a solidarity gesture from the Uruguayan government to the President of Argentina.

'The request for entry by the frigate (sic) HMS Gloucester D-96, charged with guarding the Malvinas islands, was denied by the foreign ministry, without the navy having to get involved,' an anonymous Uruguayan source told news agency AFP.

The Malvinas is the Spanish name for the Falklands, which Britain and Argentina went to war over in 1982.

HMS Gloucester, which has a ship's company of about 200, last week sought to take on supplies and fuel in Montevideo, the nearest port to the Falklands after Argentina, which closed its ports to British warships ever since the Falklands war.

Uruguay has historically has backed Argentina's claim to sovereignty over the Falklands and other islands in the South Atlantic.

In 2006, protesting British oil exploration in waters around the Falklands, Argentina asked neighbouring countries not to allow their ports or airports to be used by British ships or planes headed for the Falklands.

According to Uruguayan newspaper La Republica, HMS Gloucester's request to enter Montevideo was presented to the Uruguayan Navy, Foreign Affairs and Defence ministries on Monday, September 13.

But after days of deliberation, the Uruguayan authorities said HMS Gloucester was not cleared to enter port.

A similar incident happened in December 2007 with HMS Nottingham, also heading for the Falklands.

On that occasion there was a specific request from then Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana to deny access to Montevideo to the Royal Navy South Atlantic patrol.

Apparently, this was not the case with HMS Gloucester.

There was no immediate comment from the Royal Navy or Foreign Office.

>> Vote in our latest web poll.