LONDON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The Falkland Islands will go without the protection of a British ship of war because of cuts in the size of the fleet.
HMS Northumberland -- a frigate equipped with missiles that was to be dispatched to the Falklands this month -- is to be replaced by an auxiliary vessel, The Telegraph reported. The Northumberland instead will be on pirate patrol off Somalia.
The Falklands, a remote group of islands in the South Atlantic, are claimed by both Britain and Argentina.
The Largs Bay, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel crewed mainly by civilians, will replace the Northumberland in the South Atlantic. Military sources told the Telegraph the Largs Bay would be able to defend itself from attack but not much else.
The last time Britain withdrew a military vessel from the Falklands was 1982. That was followed by an invasion from Argentina and the two-month Falklands War.
In 1982, the Royal Navy had 65 frigates and destroyers. It now has 22.