HMS Gloucester barred from Uruguay

HMS Gloucester docked on Portsmouth harbour.

HMS Gloucester in Portsmouth Harbour (Image via Wikipedia)

According to today’s Portsmouth News HMS Gloucester has been barred from calling in at a Uruguayan port.

The Type 42 Destroyer, on her way to the South Atlantic for her stint as Falkland Islands Guardship, had originally been granted permission to stop in Montevideo for supplies and fuel, as Royal Navy warships in the South Atlantic have frequently done for decades. When Gloucester arrived in Montevideo last week, however, she was informed that she was not welcome and asked to leave. An anonymous Uruguayan source even referred to the Falklands as the ‘Malvinas’.

Argentina had previously requested that all South American countries refuse to allow British warships or aircraft to use their facilities, in an attempt to blockade British Forces and make their job much more difficult. In 2007 HMS Nottingham was also barred from Montevideo, while also heading to the Falklands. On that occasion a specific request was made by the Argentinian Foreign Minister. Apparently that was not the case with HMS Gloucester. The barring of ports in South America is a very serious issue. In 1982 Argentina was a virtual pariah, as a military dictatorship. Although most countries did not give Britain open support (apart from perhaps Chile), neither did they support Argentina.

In the past year or so Argentina has been slowly ratcheting up pressure over the Falklands, brought to a head by the discovery of oil reserves in the South Atlantic near the Falklands. Funnily enough they were not so bothered about them until oil was discovered. I’ve written before about my views on the Falklands. British soveriegnty of the islands is something of an oddity of empire, but its by no means the only one – after all, most of the continent of South America is populated by – and ruled by – people who originally came from Spain. What happened to the indigenous people there? Yet the Falklands had no native population. The British people there now have been living there for hundreds of years, which in anyones book, makes them pretty settled. The arguments have been raked over over and over again. If there are issues, they should be raised in the United Nations.

The parallels with 1982 are rather alarming. An unpopular Argentinian Government with economic and social problems, a Thatcherite British Government looking to slash British Armed Forces, a decision pending over a South Atlantic Ice Patrol Ship, and fears that the Royal Navy might lose Aircraft Carrier and Assault Ship resources. Against that background, a lack of support – and, indeed, ambivilence to Britain in South America – is something we could well do without.

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24 Comments

Filed under Falklands War, Navy, News

24 responses to “HMS Gloucester barred from Uruguay

  1. x

    If you had studied IR at uni’ and not history you would know that the UN is a talking shop dominated by the Third World. Every time the Falklands comes up for a vote the TW vote en masse against the UK. Remember in the anarchic nation state system means everybody is equal. Why does nothing happen about the Falklands? Well because the vast majority of the TW can’t run their own countries let alone interfere in how a G8 country runs its own affairs. The RN should route the guardship via Sierra Leone and Ascension.

    The best way to gauge SA opinion is to see which way Brazil jumps on her warship order. Brazil needs to realise that as a growing economy that to be taken serious it needs to act more like a First World state and not some South American banana republic. Argentina could have been Latin America’s leader. Such a shame.

    PS: Did you know that Brazilian warships just have names? They have no equivalent of HMS or USN…

    PPS: In a similar vein all Russian ships are male. Goes back to Peter the Great. Now there is somebody who understood sea power.

  2. James Daly

    Funnily enough I took part in a Model UN General Assembly at the UN in Geneva when I was 15. For one debate I represented Chile (this was during the Pinochet furore) and I re-affirmed the alliance with Britain, then in the next I represented France in a debate on arms deals – had them queuing up for exocets!

    But yeah it is a talking shop, but mainly because of hows its been treated as an option, not an obligation – its something we saw with Iraq, the standard thing is to ignore the UN if you want to go your own way, but if you’re wronged to direct the issue to the UN and watch it get tied up. If Argentina have got a problem, they should route it through the UN rather than play silly games. Of course, Bush and the Hawks have undermined that.

    Some of the South American politics I’ve seen has been shocking – Hugo Chavez telling the Queen to ‘go home’, and a supposedly democratic country in Argentina electing the previous President’s WIFE!

  3. My late uncle called the UN a gaurd dog without teetch – this was at the time of Bosnia where umpteen UN efforts failed.

  4. James Daly

    The UN in Team America – ‘we will write you a letter telling you how angry we are’

    I still think Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim holds true – talk softly but carry a big stick. Diplomacy is useless without force backing it up, and there were cases in the Balkans where the UN was hopeless.

  5. Part of the problem is that Uruguay and Argentina have been arguing (sometimes rather heatedly) about canals tapped from the river Plate into Uruguayan ports and farms. By cozying up to Argentina over this and other refusals (something about a trawler went past a few days ago?), Uruguay hopes to curry favour with Argentina and get a beneficial settlement on the water diversions. And I think all of South America is worried, if not scared, over Senor Chavez and whatever next bit of stupidity he dreams up. (I loved the Russian warships calling in Venezuela earlier this year – ships in about the same condition as those the Japanese blasted to bits at Tsushima!)

  6. x

    Surely it would be better to curry some of that beef instead of favour?

    If memory serves there have been other border disputes between Uruguay and Argentina. But the nub of the issue for me is simply has been said already one bunch of colonists trying to snatch another colonist’s territory. (Some of the stuff the Spanish did to the native people of South America is sickening.)

    I did a paper on the lack of effectiveness of sanctions in my first year at uni’. Managed to splice in a nice paragraph or two about the Beira Patrol.

    I don’t think the Argentines are much of a threat.

  7. The Argentinian people aren’t too bad – they are hardly ready for another war from multiple blogs and websites I’ve seen. It’s the idea of the leaders following that loon Chavez, and thinking that maybe boycotting both the US and the UK would be a good idea. The Russians are too busy starving, so they won’t bail South America out, Europe isn’t interested, and the local SA economies will fold without outside investment. Uruguay should be cautious – between the nutcase to the north and the diva to the south, they’re going to find themselves in an awfully deep hole others dug for them!

  8. x

    Yes there is a danger in discussions like this to depersonalise peoples. My interest in Argentina and Falklands goes way back to series of reports that TV journalist Bob Langley did for the Pebble Mill lunchtime (you see I speak Southern) programme. Though I was very young I was captivated by the exotic land of Argentina that was patently enamoured with the British, and that strange mythical place called the Falklands. I was a precocious child and amazed the adults in my life with my seemingly in depth knowledge of that region when the war came. Being a sickly child probably did more for my education than school…

    Saying that the only Argentine I come into contact with is a middle class Marxist who trots out all the anti-colonial dogma but forgets the indigenous peoples, the rights of the established Falklands population. etc. etc. It easy to have political views in a Second World country if you are financially secure.

  9. James Daly

    I think the Argentine people have been constantly let down by their leaders, whether they’re elected or military of whatever. Reading Middlebrook’s book on the Argentine War effort, The Junta and the high-ranking military seriously let the whole country down. The Navy agitated for the war, and then scurried back to port and left the Army and the AAF to fight it out. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who can’t hide contempt for any Government – friend or foe – that dumps thousands of Privates on an island, without proper kit or food, doesnt tell them where they are, and when they come home defeated treats them like dirt. The Argentine public would do themselves a great favour if they would just ignore the politicians BS and drop the whole Malvinas thing, the people there deserve better.

  10. x

    I find the stories of the Argentine conscripts quite upsetting. And the pictures of the rosaries and pictures of the Blessed Lady scattered amongst the detritus of the war disquieting.

  11. The eternal dichotomy of war. Those most able to make war don’t fight, those most able to fight don’t want to make war. The sad part is recruiters and governments the world around tell stories of glory and patriotism, and make it sound like a grand adventure. Or they put a gun to someone’s head and ship them off anyway. Every politician should have to spend a period of time in uniform getting shot at. Then, and only then, would we have a hope of world peace. As long as some youth can be mesmerised by tales of adventure and glory, without knowing what death looks like up close, I fear for the future of mankind. Sometimes I’m amazed we’ve gotten this far.

  12. James Daly

    I’ve always thought that in a funny sort of way, wars tend to bring the rank and file who fight each other, as when they meet each other – as they are bound to – they invariably realise they have far more in common with each other than they do with their own generals and politicians. Look at the live-and-let-live system on the western front, or how easily the British Army of the Rhine became part of the fabric of Westphalia and Saxony so soon after 1945.

    Its very hard not to feel sorry for the Argentine conscripts in 1982. Looking at it objectively, they did rather well considering their lack of training, lack of equipment and their poor leadership.

  13. The oddest point where forces met and were friendly? Gallipoli! There are documented instances of ANZACs and Turks exchanging cigarettes and bully beef (which was usually thrown back after being sampled!). Such vicious warfare, on unforgiving ground, and yet the troops on both sides ended up fraternising. It is amazing how the human spirit can survive such absolute horror and still maintain the ability to care for a total stranger.

  14. x

    When at uni’ I listened to middle class kids making sweeping statements on “security” based on half-baked trite leftist ideas promulgated by the lecturers I struggled to keep my face straight. After an hour speaking crap (that is those that could be bothered to speak) they would sidle off to the SU or go shopping or do whatever. While I knew kids from council estates were out in A-stan sitting in a ditch, not having washed or had a proper meal for over a day, being shot at, and wondering if the next step would kill them or worse leave them disabled. It made me quietly angry.

    I think it is telling that those working class kids went to war with Queen’s grandson. While the son of the PM who sent them to war did an internship in Washington and then went on to work in sector that has brought the nation to its knees.

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  16. valentino

    Fue una agresión militar la que llevó a Inglaterra a ocupar las islas y fue una decisión colonial la de implantar una población exógena en ese lugar
    La gente que vive en las islas no es nativa, es una población llevada por una potencia colonial para ocupar los lugares de los que fueron expulsados los ciudadanos argentinos.

    INGLATERRA NO ATIENDE EL TELEFONO” :) y no quiere hablar del tema. Qué podemos hacer. Al mismo tiempo realiza ejercicios militares (en el archipiélago) que van en contra de lo que han firmado ellos mismos, y que no se pueden hacer sin avisarnos, porque Argentina es responsable de la seguridad de todas las naves” que transitan la zona. desoyendo las disposiciones de la ONU, del OMI (organizacion Maritima Internacional)realizando maniobras belicas en aguas y creyendose dueños de una isla que esta a 14000 km de distancia. por el momento acatan las disposiciones de la unasur y ya no pueden reabastecerse en casi ningun puerto del continente Sudamericano.

    • James Daly

      Sorry Valentino, this is a place for enlightened, objective discussion. Your points however owe more to the propaganda that has been coming out of Buenos Aires for god knows how long. And the policies of successive Argentine Governments have had more to do with distracting the population from domestic issues than the Malvinas themselves.

      There are thousands of people who live on those islands who want to be British. The Falklands Islands have been British since before Argentina even EXISTED as a country. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights lays down in black and white that all people have the right to determine who they are governed by. If the Argentine people want to be conned by their Government into disrespecting that right, quite frankly I feel sorry for them.

  17. John Erickson

    Aunque mi español es pobre (esto es una traducción por computadora) y yo soy americano, me gustaría hacerle algunas preguntas de aclaración, Valentino.
    1. Usted parece decir que las islas siempre fueron territorio argentino, sin embargo, por lo que sé de la historia, las islas han pasado la mayor parte de su tiempo ya sea asignada como europea o reiterada por los europeos. ¿Hay alguna organización mundial como las Naciones Unidas que dio a las islas a la Argentina?
    2. Usted afirma que Gran Bretaña no puede repostar en cualquier lugar de América del Sur. Sé que se incluye barra de Argentina y Venezuela británico. No tengo conocimiento de ninguna prohibición en Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, o de los países del norte de América del Sur. ¿Cuáles prohibición de Gran Bretaña y por qué?
    3. De las historias que tienen acceso a, la Argentina sólo mostró interés en las islas a principios del decenio de 1980, 100 años después de los británicos establecieron una colonia en las islas. Cuando, antes de la década de 1980, Argentina hizo discutir seriamente la obtención de la propiedad de las islas?
    Me refiero a ningún insulto, simplemente estoy buscando información. Gracias por su tiempo y paciencia.

    • John Erickson

      Lo siento, por error declaró Uruguay no existe una prohibición de los buques británicos, cuando ese fue el tema de la historia. Mis disculpas por un error por descuido.

    • John Erickson

      Bah? Bah – the Brazilians are being nasty little buggers? Or bah – that’s what the bloody British deserve? (Like I have to actually ASK that question? ;) )

    • James Daly

      Tinpot Banana republics sticking together I see. Its one thing jumping up and down wanting the world to take you seriously, but they would do a lot better by behaving with a bit of class. Argentina still strikes me as the same country as it was in 1982, just with a different President wearing different clothes but the same old population buying the same old BS all the time.

      Mind you Obama doesn’t help matters by courting these kind of countries, it makes them think that they actually matter… I sound like such an old imperialist, I know… but what I’m talking is diplomacy, integrity, respect.

    • John Erickson

      Ya know, you Brits are just WAY too stuffy and stodgy. You need to be more hip, more with it. You need to be more like the US! After all, everywhere we go in the world, the natives LOVE us! They love us so much, they toss tokens of their affection wherever we go. Heck, in some countries, they give 21 gun salutes! (Or however many AKs they have at hand.) ;)

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