RFA Argus is at the heart of the amphibious task force deployed to the Baltic for two months.

The Royal Navy say that the deployment is led by flagship HMS Albion, “which has a substantial flight deck, but no hangar”.

According to a release:

“The Commando Helicopter Force and its Merlin Mk4 troop carriers (845 Naval Air Squadron) and recce/intelligence gathering Wildcats (847 NAS) – are embarked in Argus for the duration of Baltic Protector 2019.

The deployment is the first test of the RN-led international Joint Expeditionary Force, which has a British amphibious task group at its heart, sucking in ships, aircraft, helicopter, troops and armour from up to eight other allied nations all with shorelines on either the Baltic or North Seas.”

The ship was requisitioned in 1982 for service in the Falklands War and purchased outright in 1984 for use as an Aviation Training Ship, replacing RFA Engadine. In 1991, during the Gulf War, she was fitted with an extensive and fully functional hospital to assume the additional role of Primary Casualty Receiving Ship. In 2009, the PCRS role became the ship’s primary function.

Argus deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 for service in the Gulf War and also saw service in the Adriatic in 1993 and 1999 supporting British operations in Bosnia and over Kosovo respectively. During this period, Argus operated in part as a makeshift helicopter carrier. Her unsuitability for this role was a major factor in the commissioning of HMS Ocean.

The Royal Navy release also stated:

“Although Argus has conducted exercises and providing training support both for the Fleet Air Arm and military medics – she doubles up as a casualty treatment ship thanks to an impressive suite of hospital facilities – she hasn’t been dispatched on an operation since helping to rid Sierra Leone of the deadly Ebola virus over the winter of 2014-15.”

Argus is due to remain in service until 2024.

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Keithdwat
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Keithdwat

Assuming these hospital ships happen, with penny mordaunt as defence secretary that seems more likely, I wonder what will replace the aviation training facilities?

Fedaykin
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Fedaykin

I hope they don’t, Hospital ships would be a collosal waste of money and resources.

If we need more deployable medical capacity a container based hospital system would be a far more useful and cost effective solution. Especially if it can be deployed onto any vessel with a suitable vehicle deck.

The RFA struggle to crew the vessels they have, a couple of White Elephant Hospital ships would hardly help the situation.

https://hospitainer.com/

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Hospital ships on the aid budget freeing Argus or her replacement for use as dedicated flat top assault ship?

Fedaykin
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Fedaykin

They wouldn’t free up Argus, firstly she is not that good in the dedicated flat top assault roll as the article points out. Secondly dedicated Hospital ships are more a nuisance to the Royal Navy then a benefit, they can’t be armed in any way including defensive electronics so they have to be held well out well away from operations and even then there is a chance that modern long range anti ship missiles and Torpedoes could sink them. They can only be used as a hospital ship meaning you can’t use it to support any other operations, lets say… Read more »

Lee1
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Lee1

I totally agree. Dedicated hospital ships are a waste of money. We need more assault ships that can double up as hospital ships when needed.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

A dedicated and unarmed hospital ship would spend the majority of its life doing humanitarian work which would justify its being wholly funded by the foreign aid budget. In a conflict it would be requisitioned by the armed services for casualty evacuation. Happy to be corrected but I believe that being unarmed and if appropriately painted this usage is permitted with crew and wounded being protected under the Geneva Convention.
Argus is being asked to do too many things. Horses for courses.

4thwatch
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4thwatch

Have you seen what has been happening to hospitals in Syria? They are under constant attack in violation of the Geneva convention. I don’t suppose a Brahmos Missile can determine what is a hospital ship.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Very true but not really the issue. My point is that in Argus we are trying to get 2 or 3 ships for the price of one; there is money in the aid budget which it would be more appropriately spent on a hospital ship than dished out to dubious corrupt regimes trying to buy exports and foreign influence in a losing battle against Chinese influence. The RN would benefit and Aid recipients would benefit. I really see this as something of a no brainer.

Fedaykin
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Fedaykin

“there is money in the aid budget” – no there isn’t, UK foreign aid budget is actually fairly modest and it certainly isn’t an appropriate use spending it on hospital ships.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

FAIRLY MODEST? ARE YOU REAL?

Fedaykin
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Fedaykin

Yes, the UK spends 0.7% of GDP on international development which sits exactly on the UN advised target. Four other nations are above the UK, it is commendable that the UK at least meets the minimum internationally standard for foreign aid.

Oh and FYI your caps lock is still jammed on

DaveyB
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DaveyB

A Brahmos missile has a very simplistic pulse doppler radar, much like the early Exocets, making it highly susceptible to decoys. But also means it can’t tell the difference between a warship and a cruise liner!

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

geneva convention ? ask the balkan people and the syrians and they’ll tell you about geneva conventions the britannic was a hospital ship, but it was still sunk

andy reeves
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andy reeves

AT LEAST THE FOREIGN AID BUDGET WOULD BE USED FOR THE U.K’S BENEFIT, INSTEAD OF THE CRIMINAL ALLOCATION OF THE 3.1 BILLION ALLOCATED TO COUNTRIES THAT DON’T DESERVE ANY.£200 MILLION TO PAKISTAN, A NATION THAT HARBORS TERRORISTS AND ALLOWS ITS SOIL TO BE USED TO TRAIN THOSE WHO WOULD DO US GREAT HARM, THE SAME TO INDIA A NATION WITH A BOOMING ECONOMY AND QUICKLY EXPANDING ARMED FORCES.AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AN UTTER DISGRACE. I COMPLAINED VIA MY M.P WHO PASSED IT TO THE RELEVANT OFFICE WHICH ASSURED ME THAT GREAT CARE WAS TAKEN TO ALLOCATE WHERE… Read more »

keithdwat
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keithdwat

dude, chill.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

WHAT? THATS MY FEKKING TAXES!!!! going to some dishonest raghead who would love to inflict a ‘real nasty’ on the u.k

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Agreed ….in mixed case 🙂

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Why the capital’s? The foreign aid budget is this countries ‘soft power’ budget if you like, and it buys this country a huge amount of influence.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

capitals are because my laptop is a windows 7 version and its knackered i’d get a new one, but all my money has gone to pakistan!

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Lol 😁

The artist formerly known as Los Pollos chicken
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The artist formerly known as Los Pollos chicken

Right on brother 👍🏻👏🏻 We give 14 billion plus a year away with little accountability meanwhile we have lack of money for cancer drugs in nhs , pensioners get a pittance , homeless on streets lack of police numbers , prison service in meltdown , public services being cut , mod funding black hole …..but as long as the political elite and their entertainment and fake media supporters can pat themselves on the back at urinating an extortionate amount of tax payers money up against wall then that’s alright. Charity begins at home 🇬🇧

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Lol Andy. 🙂 I’ve now come round to the idea of the aid budget having learned much here, it’s usefulness as a soft power tool, and so on.

But I agree some of the spend should be better thought out rather than trying to meet targets.

I don’t mind the capitals, it is a typical Admiral Reeves post!

keithdwat
Guest
keithdwat

I’m completely fine with the aid budget, always have been, it is perfect for extending soft power influence, but yes it needs to be much better spent! We need to make sure it actually gets to the people that need it, not just the 0.1% that we give it in these third world nations!

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

well thank you kindly for your nice words, i wonder if india would buy me a new laptop !!!1

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

It would spend the majority of its life tied up gathering rust not doing humanitarian work around the world. A ship has to be maintained and crewed, it just isn’t an effective use of the foreign aid budget running a White Elephant of a hospital ship. We would struggle to even find the nurses needed to care for all the beds.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

especially nurses that don’t get seasick

Expat
Guest
Expat

I doubt they will happen as Penny was suggesting them when she was in charge of the aid budget to help the defence budget. They will only happen if she can convince the new Aid department head to spend the money.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

new aid department? about bloody time too

Harry Nelson
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Harry Nelson

The article higlights the usefulness of ARGUS, isn’t she slated to go without replacement??

Fedaykin
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Fedaykin

Nothing is currently set in stone with Argus when it comes to her retirement or replacement, I believe 2024 is ostensibly her pay off date.

I can see a multi purpose platform as a replacement, maybe something not unlike the Special forces support ship that they are looking at procuring.

Personally I like the idea of something that can be put on anything with a vehicle deck.

LongTime
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LongTime

Just on the container idea. I’ve got quite a lot of experience with that sort of infrastructure and they are a no go for long term operations from a structural and working environment view point. Also the ships would still require wide and fast access to the hospital area from the flight deck, being on the vehicle deck doesn’t really offer that.
IMO we just need an Argus Mk2 built almost exactly the same but larger overall, having a larger flight deck and no superstructure on said flight deck.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Interesting point, I do wonder if we go down the Argus MK2 path that something based upon the hull and machinery of whatever wins the solid stores ship contest be the way forward.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

i like mark 2 ideas, i thought a batch 2 type 21 frigate would have been a good basis for the t31.wildcat artisan, sea ceptor? nice.

Frank Morelli
Guest
Frank Morelli

Hi Long Time, what would you classify as “long term” as a matter of interest?

LongTime
Guest
LongTime

Sorry been away from internet, With regards to the medical units that exist now I’d say anything more than 3months is long term. It’s not so much that after this their structure ‘fails’ it’s more subtle issues, for example the operating theatres that are available on oversize shipping containers then expand an extra 1.5M in each direction and still needs to be sealed for sterilisation, after 3-4months of being compressed in the open position the seals lose their effectiveness requiring a close and open to replace them, the sides sag after 6months and require a close realignment then open again… Read more »

DaveyB
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DaveyB

Defo, not the same. Having landed on her in a Chinook, the location of the funnel and structure is scary. With the Invincible class, there was less than 6ft between the rotor tips and the structure. On Argus depending where they put you it could be less.
For the Argos 2, the helicopter deck needs to be clear of any structure.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

tight fit? i was on the blake when they tried to land a harrier on it. turbulence from the superstructure nearly crashed it

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

remove the super structure of a bay class ,put a full length deck on it, paint it white and you’ve got an ocean replacement and a decent platform for a hospital ship.

David Barry
Guest
David Barry

Replace with an America class – nice round of abilities and with a mind to selling T26 to the yanks.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

AS A CASUALTY SHIP, I WONDER IF IT MEETS THE GENEVA CONVENTION REQUIREMENTS TO BE DESIGNATED A HOSPITAL SHIP, PAINTED WHITE AND A CLEAR RED CROSS ON HER HULL

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

I once again think your caps lock button has a mind of its own.

But no, in her current configuration she does not meet the requirements.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

my laptop has now been RETIRED

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Paid off? 😉

I’m glad to have learned the source of it nonetheless, have a good weekend Andy.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

U2

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Argus was converted to allow training for Helo pilots on an Invincible Carrier look alike, (hence the island structure on the Stbd side)and to allow pilot training for FF/DD. If you look aft the deck layout on stbd has a FF/DD deck grid and the painted layout for an LPD on the port side. To allow the vessel to have roll characteristics similar to a warship, alterations to top weight where made. Argus had approx 1.3 m of reinforced concreted added to make up the aircraft deck landing area. As a result the RN still has an Armoured deck on… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Argus was a STUFT I recall. Can we not just do the same again to keep the costs down?

I presume she also has lower spec systems like Ocean did?

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

In respect of Argus and a replacement taking another ship from trade might keep costs down but there are problems. The core systems fit will be unique and different from the rest of the fleet, this can cause logistic and training issues trying to support and sustain. Another issue is these types of vessels are designed to be very lean manned in their civilian role, this can lead to problems with things like the water main and waste handling systems. If you have a waste system designed for a crew of 25-40 trying to manage the effluent from several hundred… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Thank you.