The Defence Committee has published correspondence from the Ministry of Defence responding to questions from the Committee on the Navy and Naval procurement.
The correspondence follows the Committee’s report “We are going to need a bigger Navy” and the subsequent Government response. In the correspondence, it is revealed that RFA Argus is being kept in service longer than planned.
RFA Argus was originally planned to leave service in 2024 but is to be kept in service until at least 2030 as no replacement is yet available.
The Defence Committee asked:
“Will RFA ARGUS’s retirement date be extended until the dedicated primary receiver MRSS is operational and will the Multirole Support Ship (MRSS) be configured to offer the same level of casualty support as the ARGUS?”
The Government replied:
“Royal Fleet Auxiliary ARGUS will be extended in service beyond 2030. Beyond ARGUS, the MRSS programme will offer an enduring solution to afloat medical support. The future Maritime Deployed Hospital Care (MDHC) capability hosted by the MRSS will be based around scale and effects required to support Littoral Strike.
It is anticipated that this will be broadly equivalent to the level of capability that ARGUS currently provides now. Given there are planned to be more than one MRSS, there could be opportunities to disaggregate medical capability between multiple platforms, with an option to re-aggregate in time of crisis, rather than only operating a single platform. MRSS is still in the concept phase, and the precise laydown of the medical capability is still being developed.”
The principal role of RFA Argus is to serve as a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship. She has a fully equipped 100-bed medical complex on board, which includes an emergency department, resuscitation and surgical facilities, and a radiology suite complete with a CT scanner.
The personnel of RFA Argus boast more than 40 different medical and surgical specialities and are drawn from the MOD Hospital Units and Royal Marines Band Service.