Dauntless sails for South Atlantic islands ‘within weeks’

HMS Dauntless (right) and HMS Dragon at Portsmouth, UK. Picture: Colin Smith / geograph.org.uk

HMS Dauntless is expected to embark on the Royal Navy’s regular patrol of South Atlantic islands “within weeks”, reports The News in Portsmouth. The vessel is currently in Cape Town and is the first Type 45 destroyer to deploy to the region.

The paper quotes “a source familiar with the ship’s programme”, saying that a visit to the Falkland Islands is on the cards shortly.

No mention is made of the other South Atlantic islands, but the reporter on the story has told St Helena Online that Dauntless will be undertaking the same duties as HMS Montrose, which visited St Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands in 2011 and 2012.

A planned run ashore on Tristan had to be abandoned because poor sea conditions ruled out a landing. Islanders had prepared a welcome tea, but had to eat it themselves.

The ship was expected to sail for the Falklands within a fortnight, after maintenance at the Cape.

The BBC has had a television crew on board Dauntless – one of the Royal Navy’s most powerful warships.

Defence correspondent Jonathan Beale reported that visits to South American ports might be ruled out because Argentina’s neighbouring nations had banned UK vessels, in solidarity over the Falklands sovereignty dispute.

He said Captain Will Warrender was not prepared to be drawn on where the ship may or may not go.

Beale described Dauntless as the navy’s first stealth warship, showing up on radar as though it were a fishing vessel.

Its own radar can track an object the size of a cricket ball, travelling at more than Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound.

The ship carries 48 Sea Viper missiles, which reach up to Mach 5 and can carry out flight manoeuvres three times more severe than a fighter pilot can withstand. “But at £1m each, Dauntless has only ever test-fired one.”

Several of the personnel on board are veterans of the 1982 Falklands conflict, including weapons engineer Steve Collins, who was a teenager on HMS Antelope when it was sunk in San Carlos Sound.

“That was his very first deployment,” wrote Beale. “And this will be his last. He says he is looking forward to seeing the islands once again and visiting the memorials.”

SEE ALSO:
HMS Montrose visits Tristan da Cunha… almost
HMS Montrose continues islands tour

LINKS:
HMS Dauntless due to visit Falklands in a ‘few weeks’ – The News
Life on Falklands-bound HMS Dauntless – BBC News
HMS Dauntless – Royal Navy website

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