RFA Argus returns to sea after revamp following Ebola mission

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Auxiliary Fleet

Engineers who’ve overseen the revamp of RFA Argus over the past 11 months present her commanding officer with a memento – on the eve of her return to sea.

The 28,000-tonne support ship departed the docks in Falmouth at noon Good Friday after nearly a year undergoing an overhaul in the hands of A&P following her efforts to curb the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

During her 172 days in support of Operation Gritrock – the codename for the British military’s response to the disease’s outbreak in Sierra Leone – Argus served as the base for Merlin helicopters to ferry medicine, food and supplies around the country, both to our forces on the ground treating the local populace, and for people in isolated or cut-off communities.

In addition, her medical facilities – the most comprehensive afloat in the Naval Service – were available to treat any British personnel taken ill.

In all, cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone dropped tenfold while Argus was deployed.

“Argus was deployed for six months, during which time she was only alongside for 12 hours,” said Capt David Eagles RFA, Argus’ CO.

“This remarkable endurance is testament to the high quality work carried out at A&P Falmouth in maintaining the Royal Navy’s primary casualty receiving facility.”

Nevertheless, the rate of operations and hot, humid conditions took their toll of personnel and the ship herself – hence the overhaul in Falmouth upon Argus’ return.

Before Argus left the jetty to begin trials A&P’s Steve Wheeler and Simon Timmins presented Capt Eagles with a print of the ship returning from her Ebola mission.

Aside from the extensive medical suite used to deal with trauma cases in time of war, Argus performs an equally-vital role as an aviation training ship with Fleet Air Arm air and ground crews using her to get crucial experience of operating helicopters at sea.

Argus was deployed for six months, during which time she was only alongside for 12 hours.

Capt David Eagles RFA