Warship sets sail for Falklands

Crowds of people have gathered to wave off one of the Royal Navy's newest and most powerful warships as it set sail for the Falkland Islands a day before the 30th anniversary of the British task force setting sail for war.

Scores of well-wishers lined the harbour walls as HMS Dauntless, the second of the navy's hi-tech Type 45 air defence destroyers, left its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base for its maiden mission.

The deployment comes amid a continuing war of words over the islands with Argentina's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday accusing David Cameron of "persistent glorification of colonialism" after the Prime Minister said the UK helped right "a profound wrong" during the 1982 war.

Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner used commemorations on the 30th anniversary of the conflict to describe Britain's stance as "ridiculous and absurd". Argentina has also complained to the UN of the UK's "militarisation" of the South Atlantic.

The MoD has said that it is a routine mission with Dauntless taking over the patrols of Plymouth-based frigate HMS Montrose.

The departure comes a day ahead of the anniversary of the first ships of the task group, including the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and Invincible, sailing from the Hampshire port on April 5, 1982.

John Wilkinson, 67, a retired MoD civil servant, from Southsea, was among those who turned out to see the warship off.

He said: "I think it's a good deployment. I was in the Falkland Islands a few weeks ago on a cruise and they are really looking forward to it going down there. Some of the population are on edge and it will settle a few nerves. It's a £1 billion ship and they have to use it for something or other."

Commanding officer Captain Will Warrender said: "HMS Dauntless' ship's company has been working extremely hard over the last year or so to prepare for our first operational deployment. We are now ready to provide a reassuring presence in the region and protect British interests."

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "HMS Dauntless is to deploy to the South Atlantic. It is a pre-planned and routine deployment to replace Plymouth-based frigate HMS Montrose which is currently there. It will be the first deployment for HMS Dauntless."