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The Royal Navy's newest destroyer has set sail on its maiden mission for the Falklands today amid strained diplomatic relations between Argentina and Britain.
Warship HMS Dauntless has left Portsmouth for a six-month deployment to the South Atlantic as Buenos Aires continues its vociferous criticism of Britain's control of the islands.
Argentina's Foreign Ministry yesterday accused David Cameron of ''persistent glorification of colonialism'' after the Prime Minister said the UK helped right ''a profound wrong'' during the 1982 war.
It came after 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''.
Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, will maintain a continuous presence protecting British interests in the region and will carry out maritime security operations off West Africa and the wider South Atlantic.
Her programme includes planned port visits in West and South Africa.
The Ministry of Defence has described the deployment as ''pre-planned and routine'', but it could further anger Argentinian ministers who made a complaint to the United Nations over Britain's ''militarisation'' of the dispute.
Hackles were also raised by the ''provocative'' six-week deployment of Prince William to the islands as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot earlier this year.
Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has led a push to improve UK trade and other links with South America, has described Argentina's recent actions as ''deeply regrettable''.
Dauntless was commissioned into the fleet in 2010 and this will be her first operational deployment after completing an intensive period of sea trials and training.
She was ''christened'' at Portsmouth Naval Base in June 2010.
Dauntless's 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.''
The ship will relieve HMS Montrose.
Family and friends of the crew waved on as she passed the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth at around 10.15am today (Wednesday 4th April).