The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Argus has been featured in the news rather a lot this week, having set sail on Friday 17th October 2014 for West Africa to join the international effort against the Ebola virus. But what does this, before now, relatively unknown ship do?
Officially classed by the Royal Navy as a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship (PCRS), the ship is also used for training helicopter pilots to land on a flight deck at sea. Both the AW101 Merlin HM.2 and the AgustaWestland Wildcat have had much publicised trials aboard the ship, which features large flight deck aft of the main superstructure.
In the PCRS role, it is claimed by the Royal Navy to feature “a fully equipped 100-bed medical complex”, and served in this role during the Battle of Al Faw in 2003, as well as Operation Telic – the British operation in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.
Aside from operational duties, the ship appeared in the film World War Z portraying the fictional USS Argus.
On her current deployment, Argus will be acting as an offshore operating base for Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel, who will set up treatment centres within the countries afflicted with the Ebola virus. She is carrying three AW101 Merlin helicopters from RNAS Culdrose, as well as what appeared to be at least one LCVP MK.5 Landing craft, along with numerous Offshore Raiding Craft.