Military forced to reject claim Falklands left vulnerable to attack

© Marcos Brindicci
British Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials have been forced to deny claims the Falkland Islands have been left vulnerable to attack because no British ships are stationed in the south Atlantic.

Following reports by the Independent claiming no Royal Navy ships had docked with the islands since November 2015, a spokesperson insisted the Falklands remain well protected.

The paper quoted an MoD source, who said British warships only visit the Falkland Islands for six weeks during a typical six month voyage in the south Atlantic. The newspaper said a frigate was the last ship to be stationed at the islands at the end of last year.

It was the first time the islands had not had the protection of a warship since the 1982 conflict with Argentina, the paper claimed.

“The Falklands remain well protected via the patrol warship HMS Clyde, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship and around 1,200 UK personnel operating RAF Typhoons and ground defenses,” an MoD spokesperson responded.

The spokesperson said two British warships “remained part of the fleet” despite allegations they had been forced to stay in port.

According to the Independent, HMS Dauntless and frigate HMS Lancaster are stuck in port due to personnel shortages and issues with the new Type 45 Destroyer boats.

“HMS Dauntless and HMS Lancaster are not mothballed and remain very much part of the fleet,” the MoD spokesman said.

Labour Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry said a ship should be sent to the islands immediately.

“In one area after another we have seen the impact of the savage cuts made to our armed forces since David Cameron came to office, but even by those low standards, it is unacceptable that the government is failing to provide the protection for the Falkland Islands that has been promised, and that that Islands have a right to expect as British citizens. The Ministry of Defence must rectify the situation immediately,” she said.

The revelation comes after a UN report prompted Argentina to reassert its claim to islands, which it calls Islas Malvinas. The report expanded Argentina’s maritime territory in the South Atlantic to its continental shelf, including the disputed islands.

Rejecting the findings, the UK Foreign Office said the commission had “no jurisdiction over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.”