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.

You can read more about the vessel here.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Tim
1 month ago

Nice to see a Falklands war vet still in service after 50 years!

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

With this news is there going to need to be a costly refit for such a long service? Why can Argus service be so long compared to other Royal navy/RFA vessels?
It’s great news, I’ve always thought she was a good vessel.
Now hopefully Babcock/BAE can put there ship design teams into the Future stores vessel and the MARS( or whatever they are calling the multi role vessels) babcock alone have a an 800+ strong ship design team.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

She is I guess under Lloyd’s rules. As long as she meets the requirements it won’t be an issue.
wasted steel plate is relatively easy to replace. Hull valves are straight forward to change or refurbish.
Spares for mechanical and electrical systems may be an issue. Some of the companies won’t be in existence any longer. That’s a fun part of obsolescent management.

Paul.P
Paul.P
29 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Navy Lookout refers to the Commons Defence Select Committee hearing on 5th July.
In this meeting Ben Wallace suggested that perhaps Argus could be modified to make a littoral support ship: given a well dock.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Typical. Ship coming to the end of its life and nothing to replace. What a joke of a government and Mod.

DMJ
DMJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Did you read the article? Replaced by MRSS.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

Yes but when DMJ? MRSS remains like FSSS a mere twinkle in the eye of naval architects and planners. So replacement at the moment is on the never ever.

DMJ
DMJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The comment was that there was nothing to replace whereas the article states that MRSS will replace. Clearly this does not meet the constant negative narrative in here

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

MRSS will come after FSSS, yet we have seen no designs for FSSS never mind MRSS!
What yard/s will build them? All a bit vague on actual detail don’t you think…..

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

Should be call UKDJ moan and rant page 😄

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

You’d think she was being disgarded.

It seems Echo got it in the neck instead, which makes sense between the two and Scott.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

The comments lately have been pretty low rent, even with the positive news stories. I think a few to many have thought the Ukraine conflict would bring about a 4% defence budget, and a big increase in numbers. Frustrations in defence are many, but the strains on the wider economy and public spending have to be remembered. 👍 Hope you are keeping well pal. I’ll be at RIAT in two weeks time watching lots of fantastic aircraft, and the weather forecast looks like its going be a scorcher ☀️😃

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Oh! It’s Fairford this year? I’ve never been there yet. Farnborough is on too but that’s been naff for years I’d not pay to go in myself but heard RIAT is v good.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago

My late father attended Farnborough as his company was aerospace remember him telling me of the SR71 Blackbird being shown off no one had ever seen a plane like it

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Yeah Fairford is back on this year, and they have got a very good lineup considering what is going on in the world. Its an excellent show, and well worth the trip. 9hr flying display isn’t to shaby!.

Nick C
Nick C
1 month ago

You should definitely try and go, Farnborough is a pale shadow by comparison.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick C

It is. Same old boring aircraft on public days. I just hang around outside on industry days I would never again pay for that crap.
Best show’s I have been to were the Mildenhall Air Fetes of the 90s.

Nick C
Nick C
1 month ago

Fairford is boys toys and lots of afterburner!!

Clive Scott
Clive Scott
1 month ago

I can remember Mildenhall air shows, they were great, especially the chilli burgers!

johan
johan
30 days ago
Reply to  Nick C

Farnborough is no more, its now a trade only show, no public as the restrictions due to the Houses built around the airfield limited the display line. and the last 2 shows got panned by the Public. as a rip off.

Sooty
Sooty
1 month ago

Recommend Fairford. I gave up on Farnborough after the shambles I encountered in 2018: Appalling, ill informed commentary, chaotic bus service to car parks, confusing site layout with barriers placed seemingly at random. Fairford far more professional: Good commentary, buses well organised, tidy, clearly arranged site.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

If HMG & MOD did their job properly we’d not need to be so “negative”. But while free speech is still allowed you’ll get some “negative”.
As someone once said to a government minister, back in late Victorian/Edwardian times I think, “If you want to stop criticism, why don’t you do your job honourably & properly?”, or something along those lines.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

Easy to say when we don’t have any responsibility. Lots of very talented and dedicated people work in HMG and MOD. Defence projects are incredibly complicated, and bringing many companies and arms of government together is no easy task. Mistakes are made of course, but so do lots of other countries. The attitude that if it’s British it’s rubbish, and everyone who works in MOD/government is a useless idiot is so unbelievably far off the mark.

johan
johan
30 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

Try it you will have a average Civil Servant who is restricted by guidelines to protect that public money, going head to head with a supplier with a team assembled to deliver a tender package. as long as they dot the Is and Ts. regardless of value THEY WIN. its why we are better off purchasing from a dedicated supplier

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

Key here is that MRSS isn’t even at concept stage, so way too early to know if that capability will make it or be cut due to cost constraints.

On a positive note, only having one hospital ship is a massive risk, as it’s 50/50 if it would be operational during a conflict. If the plans go ahead and that capability is spread across multiple ships, it will provide more certainty of availability.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Ignore this XD

Last edited 1 month ago by Dern
Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

The ship was due out of service next year or so and they barely have an idea of what they want to replace it.

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

How do you disaggregate a floating hospital?

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

2 or 3 smaller units.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

There’s limits to this however; you can not disaggregate a single CT scanner or X-ray machine. As a Role 3 facility RFA Argus carriers a lot of capabilities (both facilities and staff) that would have to be dupilicated. For example, if you replaced Argus’s 70 bed hospital with 3x20bed hospitals on various MRSS’s, you’d still need 3 CT scanners, as opposed to one, 3 Anesthetist teams instead of 1, etc etc. This is where the pinch points will be, and if the ICU is spread over 3 ships, what happens when Ship 1’s ICU is full but ship 2 only… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Well I’m sure you are right at the limit. That said I would come down on not putting all your eggs in one basket and reliance on some kind of triage system. Also we seem to be moving into a world where some combattants think it’s acceptable to target hospitals.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Most ships have either a Role 1 or Role 2 facility on board anyway (depending on the size of the ships), so anything short of a Role 3 isn’t really solving the eggs in basket problem. The reason why RFA Argus is so special is because she is a floating Role 3 facility, to put this into perspective, Camp Bastion’s hospital was a Role 3 facility. So it comes down to, the only way to realistically disaggrigate a Role 3 is to buy two Role 3’s and employ the staff for 2. Otherwise you just end up with the Role… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

I understand. I guess I was hoping there might be other ways of configuring equipment and skills. I don’t know … could you package a CT scanner into a container and kind up ‘upgrade’ as a role 2 to a role 3 when you need it? Just thinking…

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The issue is it’s more than just a CT scanner that makes a role 3, I just keep coming back to it because that’s the single biggest item in terms of bulk and expense and it makes a good example. But it’s a load of specialist capabilities that will usually only exist once per Role 3, (Path labs, Haematology, Surgery etc). On land these facilities can of course be containerised, and below I made reference to the idea that you could move an entire Role 3 from ship to ship, just using the ship itself as a “wrapper” around it… Read more »

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

If they container the capability then it could work, moving the equipment to which ever ship is in service at any one time. Assuming the spreading the capability is about having ships in service when needed. If it’s about redundency against one getting sunk then clearly it wouldnt without major investment in duplicate scanners/staff etc, which clearly won’t happen.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Oh, lol sorry ignore my comment above XD didn’t realise you’d commented here too.

Yeah then it’s just a question of what compromises in design do you take? Obviously a containerised Role 3 on the vehicle deck of an MRSS isn’t as good as a purpose designed space… but if only 1 of them ever has a Role 3 onboard at any one time… you see the dilemma

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Informative discussion. 👍

Gfor
Gfor
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Only 1 ship with the capability means that when it is in refit or defective you lose that capability.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Gfor

The role 3 is the capability, not really the ship. So, having more than one MRSS that is rapidly capable of being converted into a wrapper for a Role 3 is a good idea (although how much the design will have to be compromised to be able to act as a PCRS is a open question, Argus had a, not trivial, amount of modification when she first became one), but disaggrigating and spreading the Role 3 over multiple ships? Not practicable.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dern
David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Thanks Dern.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

No Problem.
Just to add to what I was saying: 100 bed hospital you might think can be split easily into 3×30+ bed hospitals, but when you realise that Argus only has 10 ICU beds, 4 Resus bays, and 4 OR’s, suddenly you’re looking at 3, 1, 1, which gives you sooo little margin before a single MRSS is overwhelmed.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

Sad to see no replacement however for once atleast we are not seeing a capability gap while waiting for jam tomorrow.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Hopefully Cunards Transatlantic liner was designed to have a secondary troop carrying capacity. Anyone know if Queen Mary could do a troop carrying role? She’s a huge fast powerful ship.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Non of the liners save the SS United States were ever specifically designed to have troops carried on them. However as with Queen Mary II if you have 150,000 t of ship to work with you can carry a lot of troops.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Not seeing a gap yet, they haven’t ordered the replacement yet or even gone to industry for quotes. It will come down to how long they can afford to keep argus going and whether that will be long enough for them to get those finger out and put the money down and build them.

johan
johan
30 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Dont Forget she is a non combat Navy vessel and any replacement can be sourced from any yard. doesn’t have to be built in the UK. HELL even Fergerson Marine could build one. Maybe

Coll
Coll
1 month ago

I would have thought it would have the cross on the side.

DMJ
DMJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Coll

Presumably it would when acting as a declared hospital shop but is currently used for other roles as well

DMJ
DMJ
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

Also she is currently armed which prevents her carrying Red Cross’

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

Red Cross doesn’t mean you can’t be armed, that’s a total myth. Vehicles and Ships marked with a red cross can be armed, but only for self defence. The Rules around the use of the Red Cross are pretty labyrinthine, but a simplification is “You can’t ever use a vehicle for military purposes once a red cross is painted on it.” As a matter of interest this is why MERT Chinooks in Afghan never had Red Crosses on them, because although they at most carried a GPMG gunner in the rear, and where clearly medical, registering them with the Red… Read more »

Coll
Coll
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

cheers

Longtime
Longtime
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

Highly doubt it she’s always been kept ready to act as an aviation asset ASW lol and ready to deploy close in, hence why she is never referred to as a hospital ship, always a casualty receiving ship. It was actually one of the findings after the falklands war that hospital vessels have huge limitations practically that having a dedicated military asset is a better option.

Coll
Coll
1 month ago
Reply to  Longtime

thanks

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Coll

She will never carry a Red Cross as she is always classed as a warship.

Coll
Coll
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

thanks

farouk
farouk
1 month ago

Bloody hell thats a first, the UK Gov not selling off something.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

I see ‘disaggregation’ and ‘re-aggregation’ as a general principle going forwards. Not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Angus
Angus
1 month ago

She delivers a lot for a relatively small amount of upkeep and has always been there when needed. One of the best Ships in the Fleet. She has in the past also acted as a Tanker through her RAS kit. Truly Multi role.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

What doesn’t get mentioned is that Argus has acted as an adhoc LPH on more than one occasion in Exercises since Ocean was sold to Brazil……

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Any ships like her we could purchase off trade? So already built? Argus has served for 50 years just because she is so damn adaptable.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

Well thank goodness for that. Kicks the can down the road whilst new large RFA support ship programmes continue to be befuddled by delays. You wouldnt think there was a war in Europe or a mad evil dictator in charge of an army intent on conquest would you? FSSS delayed. Award of contract sometime in the next year with all 3 vessels forecadt to be in service by the early 2030s. Where does that leave MRSS programme? Can uk shipbuilding acheive all 3 FSS and 4-5 MRSS whilst also building type 26, type 31, type 32 frigates? Need to get… Read more »

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Can uk shipbuilding acheive all 3 FSS and 4-5 MRSS whilst also building type 26, type 31, type 32 frigates?
Need to get the FSS order in now.’

You have kind of answered the point that you make, if they cant be built now we cant order them now.

Quill
Quill
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Or maybe have the MRSS and FSSS be built in another country, the Tide class came out well and we aren’t exactly putting such cutting edge technology on those classes as the T26 or T83 which will no doubt have to be built domestically.It’s clear that we need these ships ASAP, why not have the initial batch of each Class be built by another country, ie.South Korea, while the remainder is completed domestically so that we fill the capability gap, boost the capability and still leaving enough orders for the ship builders in the future… Especially considering we only have… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

What war in Europe. It’s a special military operation… 😉

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

Careful you’re starting to sound like Johnny, quick condemn Putins invasion 😀

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

What happened to that £25m fund to generate innovative military solutions to help Ukraine? Do we know if it bore fruit?

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Who knows…

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

Special military operation is hell.

“Special military operation-Huh!
What is it good for?”

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Depends on how well H&W can build up it’s work force:
Type 26 BAe Govan,
Type 31+32 Babcock Rosyth
FSS Cammel Laird Mersyside?
MRSS Harland and Wolf Belfast?
SSN/SSBN Barrow
NFS H&W Appledore?

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

I think Appledore would be good for the P2000 replacements.

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

Oh dear! Who really believes MRSS will be in the water by 2030 to replace Argus, let alone that we’ll see 6 of them to also replace the Albion’s and Bay’s!

FSS….if/when it gets off the ground will absorb any extra capacity left in British Shipbuilding for the next decade.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Me. It might get delayed and ships extended, but sure it will come.

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago

Good, can the navy have:
– Type 83 x 9
– Type 26 x 12
– Type 31/32 x 9
– Astute x 9
– LPH x 2 to replace Albion and Bulwark
– F35 squadrons x 3 (the RAF should have an additional three squadrons)
Enough logistical and support vessels to ensure the above can be effectively deployed across the globe (tankers, solid stores vessels, miner hunters etc)

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

I think our miners are extinct, Thatcher saw them off, why do we need to hunt them?

Is it because Scarsgill was on TV last month?

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

It could be like witch hunting; people with grubby faces or pet canaries get accused and burned at the stake. Has to be worth some You Tube vids if not an entire reality show.

[Please note that this is meant to be an absurdist comment, and I don’t actually condone rounding up random people and heaping up the nutty slack.]

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

Thread drift. Devastating piece in the Times about lack if munitions. Worth a read.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/our-overstretched-military-is-out-of-ammo-3mrp5pn3t

johan
johan
30 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

Issue is its always a Ex Knob Jockey Moaning, yet never moaned when he had the chance to change something.
Modern Munitions are purchased on a rolling system, and unlike the old style era of WW2 types, dont take to being stored for decades, remember the Falklands and the Vulcans dropping WW2 stocks. Munition firms worked out you make more money if they have a shelf life. so everything is purchased on a supply and demand basis. But the ex Knob jockey only knew when his Whiskey was running Low.

David Barry
David Barry
30 days ago
Reply to  johan

I work in t’ co op, you know like… shelf life.

Thanks Johan.

Never thought of it like that. My bad.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago

Good. Stopping the reckless gapping of another capability. Hopefully they’ll get their finger out some time, select or design a decent relacement & while thet’re at it may be order a dedicated LPH.

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago

My God, censorship on Navylookout has got worst lately!
Has the PRC taken over it?
It deserves to die in it’s present format,I think?

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion X

My post was deleted for just asking that question!

Simon
Simon
30 days ago

Let hope there are still parts available to keep her in service.

Angus
Angus
30 days ago
A question only slightly related to this article for the replacements of Argus and others.  Why have such vessels never had a Big Gun fitted to give NGS when covering an assault and  related area's. It would free up a frigate/destroyer and also give added projected power / defence to the units in the area???? A 5" gun with related ammo could add a big punch to these units relatively cheaply. 

Last edited 30 days ago by Angus
johan
johan
30 days ago

Just to remind people,

RFA Argus is a ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary operated by the Ministry of Defence under the Blue Ensign. Italian-built, Argus was formerly the container ship MV Contender Bezant.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
29 days ago

Hi…
Is it cheaper, or could it be, to convert a container vessel to a Fleet Support Ship

Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris
28 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

I personally believe that it would pay better value for money if RFA Wave Knight were to be brought out of its current status to undergo a conversation to allow it to perform the duties of LSS. It is relatively a large platform of 196m and seaworthy similar in displacement to its US Navy counterpart platforms being used as on station sea-bases for special operations!

Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris
28 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

RFA Wave Knight and Wave Ruler are laid up, rusting away their valuable remaining life. These ships displace a good 32,000 t are 196m long and are designed for replenish RN ships with aviation fuel apart from diesel fuel, or other hydro carbons. This is true
Y value for money. RFA Argus could fulfill this role but it is definitely much older ship dating back to 40years. As the Rear Admiral said this is going to be not a cheap move to keep it alive till 3032, until the MRSS become available!