HMS Medway met up with RFA Argus in the Caribbean giving the River class ship the chance to take part in aviation training.

Support ship RFA Argus recently linked up with the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the region, HMS Medway, to begin their combined disaster relief planning and preparations say the Royal Navy. According to the Royal Navy here:

“The Royal Navy’s Caribbean task group has joined forces in Montserrat for the first time as it prepares for the impending hurricane season. It’s just six weeks till the storm season begins – and in almost every year for the past couple of decades, Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in the Caribbean have been called upon to assist island communities, most recently Bahamians in the wake of Hurricane Dorian last autumn. In Montserrat, Argus’ air group was reminded of the devastating power of Nature – but not a storm. Half the island – including its capital Plymouth – remains out of bounds, the result of a series of eruptions from the Soufrière Hills volcano, which had been dormant for hundreds of years.”

In addition say the Royal Navy, wherever Argus visits as part of her deployment to the region she’s sending her helicopters – three Merlin troop carriers from 845 Naval Air Squadron and one smaller Wildcat aircraft – into the skies to provide the latest information on helicopter and beach landing sites if the worst should happen.

They’ve already scouted Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

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Did it even land? Or are they just for hover refueling.


At 2000 tons and 90m in length it is completely nuts that the batch 2 Rivers don’t have a hanger or even a retractable canvas covering. I would have thought a light utility helicopter like Wildcat would be a key asset for offshore patrol – chasing & identifying drug smugglers, search, disaster relief etc…

Andy P

I know some on here are obsessed about the armament but for me the biggest failure of these is the lack of ability to properly support a helo. As you say, even a temporary screen shelter would be better than nothing.

Steve Taylor

I was very surprised that the B1 Rivers weren’t procured with flightdecks.


Even the smaller lighter foldable tail lynx would have done great. We should have Atleast kept some lynx we did have a few hundred.

Gavin Gordon

A little extra food for thought, Rob. Allbeit the article is getting on a bit and naturally the authors personal hypothesis. Copy & Paste:

Additionally and or what it’s worth I think that, If Circumstances Warranted, one could remove the deck superstructure upon which the crane is mounted and there install a full sized hangar. For Now, a crane must have been considered far more worthwhile.

Supportive Bloke

Yup, but to have a fixed hangar it need to be added to the length of the flight deck so the ship gets even longer. Now are you talking about a passive hangar or a maintenance hanger? Maintenance hangar you need a gantry/hoist and kit and team to fix cab. Passive hangar is just somewhere to dump the cab and do bit of light maintenance and keep the weather off it. Retractable hangar is seductive but not storm proof and does not provide hot environment protection to cab. It depends what you are trying to achieve. I agree if we… Read more »


I wonder how much it would have cost to make them a tad longer to allow for a hanger, i suspect not a whole lot considering the already overinflated price tag.

Steve Taylor

Not much in the scheme of things. The Rivers are solid ships, but not the most exciting or well packaged design. Compare with,

Note not only the hangar. But the stern ramp for large RIB’s.

Nigel Collins

If only springs to mind!


I think we could have had 4 Holland class opvs for the price of 5 rivers. The Holland class are vastly superior though and if they where up gunned could hold their own against many ships. Right now the T31 could be pushing its luck as a designated warship.

Steve Taylor

I would have bought Hollands instead of T31. And used the ‘change’ elsewhere.


You could afford to buy these ships? Impressive!

Steve Taylor

Yes. 🙂


Me too tbh. The R2s where a lost opportunity for BAE to design and build a world beating entry level opv/frigate and they just took the easy money because it was guaranteed to them unlike Naval Group, Damen and Fincantieri who put in some effort and have order books full for the export market.

Steve Taylor

And Fassmer and Lurssen too.


It’s great we’re getting more warships, but it seems to me the T31s are dangerously under armed.


I disagree. For the money they a just short of some Camm’s and we don’t know yet if they will get decent Sonar. They have otherwise useful sensors and I look forward to them joining the fleet asap. Don’t forget T31e means they are for export.
Imagine the scenario where HMS Flagwave is confronted by an overwhelming situation 6000 miles from any support at all. Will it stand and fight or run and hide to fight another day?


Probably would have cost nothing if we asked for Slightly longer for flight deck in the begining!

Steve Taylor

Big drones will need as much maintenance as a helicopter.

For me beyond all those things you list it is fire fighting that is the big potential problem if things go awry.

Supportive Bloke

I would hope the fire fighting was already included if they are refuelling helos… z

Steve Taylor

It’s one aspect of flight operations that many who haven’t been around helicopters and ships don’t consider that’s why I mentioned it.


SB, A fully fixed hanger is fitted to the BatchII half sisters of the Khareef class which is 9 meters longer for a medium helicopter, I’m not sure if Merlin if a medium or large helicopter but the Wildcat is a medium one. When I think that vessels of the Khareef class of three with a cost of £400 million for all three, each armed with a 76mm, 2x30mms, 12 Mica SAMs and 8 MM40 III a range of 5000 miles and 28 knots. Mica is about the same size and wieght as the Sea Ceptor with about the same… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

I think we can’t lose sight of the prime reasons RN assets exist. Yes, as fighting platforms, but when all is said and done that is a last resort from both a political/diplomatic standpoint and that of the RN hierarchy, I’d hazard. Presence and thus influence/reassurance within regions of national interest fulfill the majority of the remit. This needs to be carried out at an efficient cost for a country with longstanding worldwide obligations that is nevertheless significantly contrained economically compared to earlier times. This is not ‘Little Britain’ talking since, to date at least, many countries that had aquired… Read more »


Good post Gavin. I set he head photo as my Desktop background-it blows up nicely and you can just see the Argus on the top left horizon

Gavin Gordon

2020 is likely to become a fulcrum year for international relations post Covid. Could go either way with regard to Democracies in the medium term. Though ultimately they’re still likely to ascend one party states, I don’t fancy being forced to . To succeed we’ll need to carry on with this overarching policy. I’ll be looking for more overt affiliations among kindred states worldwide.


2020 will be a Fulcrum Year for the World as we know it in every respect. Even if a successful treatment/vaccine is found for Covid 19 there is no chance that we will simply resume Business as Usual in almost every aspect of our lives. As for the Batch 2’s they will I am sure increasingly be seen as invaluable assets for the RN and the UK going forward at a fraction of the cost of a frigate or other front line ship.

Gavin Gordon

Looks like US is just about to go public with how the Tres Amigos are hacking vaccine research alongside their routine malignant business as usual. Not saying we don’t quietly return the favour but Politburos raise aggression to another level – have to to survive long term. What is fustrating is why crucial research facilities still seem unacceptably vunerable to these attacks. Funny how a low key article on a vessel’s routine expands into world politics, but then that’s mostly just me!