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British ‘Hunter-Killer’ Submarine Sent to the Falkland Islands

Submitted by on May 22, 2012 – 8:28 pm |  
As the 30th anniversary of the armed conflict between Argentina and the UK over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands is approaching, diplomatic tensions over the future of these South Atlantic islands remain high. Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner conducts an active campaign to claim the Falklands as Argentine territory. Recently, the Argentinean government accused Britain of acting “aggressively and provocatively” by deploying an air-sea rescue helicopter pilot Prince William to the Falkland islands on a six-week tour of duty. Argentina next sparked an international outrage by secretly filming an advertisement showing an Argentine athlete training for the 2012 London Olympics on the steps of the war memorial in the Falklands’ capital, Port Stanley. The controversial advert ended with the provocative slogan: “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil”. Ms. Kirchner defended the video, insisting it reflected her countrymen’s feelings. Ironically, the athlete filmed in the advert was ultimately not included in the national Olympic team. Meanwhile, in a recent speech at the London School of Economics, Argentine ambassador to the UK Alicia Castro made a renewed demand for sovereignty talks over the resource-rich archipelago.

To warn off the sabre-rattling Argentina, on May 19 Britain sent a nuclear submarine HMS Talent to the Falklands. According to the Daily Mail, the submarine “slipped into a port in South Africa last week under a cloak of secrecy” after requesting “a nuclear permission” to dock in Cape Town from May 10 to 30. It is scheduled to arrive to the Falklands in good time for June 14, the anniversary of the day the British task force ended a 74-day Argentine occupation of the islands. British military officials neither confirm nor deny sending a nuclear submarine to the South Atlantic. Royal Navy Commander Mark Southorn is cited in Buenos Aires Herald as saying:

“We can’t make any comments on regards our military operations, though we can confirm that news about the sending of a submarine our media speculations as no journalist has discussed the topic with any member of the Defense Ministry.”

The HMS Talent, a Trafalgar-class “hunter-killer” vessel, one of six of its kind in the Royal Navy, is described in Digital Journal as

“based at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth. It has cameras and periscopes to take thermal images. It was built in 1988 for surveillance and to sink warships and submarines. It has an unlimited range, except by food supplies and maintenance requirements and a top speed of 32 knots. Although it uses nuclear power for propulsion, the submarine does not have nuclear warheads, although it is equipped with Spearfish wire-guided heavyweight torpedoes and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles.”

Meanwhile, Uruguayan Deputy Defense Minister Jorge Menéndez announced that Uruguay “will not welcome ships of that nature”. The official said Uruguay will “report internationally the possible presence or transit of the ship off its coast”, according to South Atlantic News Agency MercoPress. Moreover, Mr. Menéndez told the Uruguayan pro-government newspaper La República that “if this submarine passes through our waters and we detect it, we have no other choice than report it”. He also emphasized that “military ships are not and will not be welcome in our waters and/or our ports”, but military vessels engaged in “humanitarian or scientific tasks” are exempted. In general, the Uruguayan government has been supporting Argentine sovereignty claims: last year, it asserted that the Falklands/Malvinas Islands are “a British colonial possession in Latin America”. However, Uruguay has been also distancing itself from any attempts to hinder the human rights of the Islanders.



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