It has emerged that RFA Argus, a ‘Primary Casualty Receiving Ship’ of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, could be converted into a ‘Littoral Strike Ship’.
The information came to light during a recent evidence-gathering session held by the Defence Committee.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“Your question about why Argus is absolutely correct, because, right now, there is a debate within the Navy about what ships should provide the littoral strike group north and south support until we get to the end of the decade when we will be replacing Albion and Bulwark. That is a live, unresolved debate by the Navy. Two years ago, it was of the view that it would convert a Bay class to give it a better capability to store helicopters. That has currently changed and I am expecting a proposal, although it has not been signed off, that RFA Argus may fulfil that function.”
Littoral Strike Ship?
Originally, a Bay class vessel was to be converted to deliver greater littoral strike capabilities at a cost of £40 million. The Defence Command Paper released last year, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘, stated:
“The Royal Navy will invest £40m more over the next four years to develop our Future Commando Force as part of the transformation of our amphibious forces, as well as more than £50m in converting a Bay class support ship to deliver a more agile and lethal littoral strike capability.
Is Argus feasible in this role?
Originally, RFA Argus had 4 container holds repurposed as hangars, and 2 lifts (see first photo). One hangar and forward lift were eventually repurposed to become the hospital facility, with a substantial rebuild which included elevator and ramp for casualties movement. pic.twitter.com/loqu2vO6se
— Gabriele Molinelli (@Gabriel64869839) July 7, 2022
For more on the history of this project, I recommend following the link below from the excellent as always NavyLookout.
Wondering if it might be cheaper / quicker to go back to @PrevailPartners leased merchant ship conversion that would meet the Littoral Strike Ship requirement.
— Navy Lookout (@NavyLookout) July 7, 2022