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RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

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RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby SKB » 25 May 2015, 22:15

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Introduction

RFA Argus is a ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary operated by the MoD under the Blue Ensign.

Italian-built, Argus was formerly the container ship MV Contender Bezant. 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.

As the ship is armed, the Geneva Convention prevents her from being officially classified as a hospital ship.


Design and facilities

After a four-year conversion at Harland and Wolff in Belfast, the ship entered RFA service in 1988. Having been initially designed as a container ship, she would have been unstable when unloaded, making her motion at sea uncomfortable or even dangerous. Therefore, her superstructure is deliberately heavily built (weighing some 800 tons), and she has 1,800 tons of concrete ballast carried in former hatch covers, which have been inverted to form tray-like structures.

Being a former container ship, Argus does not have a traditional aircraft carrier layout - the ship's superstructure is located forward, with a long flight deck aft. The ship has a small secondary superstructure approximately 2/3 of the way down the flight deck, containing the ship's exhaust funnel. This is used by small helicopters to simulate landing on the flight deck of a destroyer or frigate.

For the 1991 Gulf crisis Argus was fitted with a fully functional hospital, which has since been modified and extensively augmented with specialist equipment, providing 70 beds. The ship is equipped with an intensive-care unit, and can provide medical x-ray and CT-scan services. Casualties can be quickly transferred from the deck directly into the assessment area. In recent years the ship's role as a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship has been considered her primary role rather than its aviation training duties.

In 2007 the ship was refitted with upgraded hospital facilities (replacing the forward aircraft lift with a ramp for emergency exit for hospital trollies and patients as well as two 50-man passenger lifts that lead to a new structure erected on the flight deck), generators and aviation systems (the ship is due to receive an upgrade to its night-vision capabilities enabling the use of WAH-64 Apache helicopters) to give an operational life until 2020.


Name: RFA Argus
Namesake: HMS Argus (World's first aircraft carrier)
Launched: 1981 (as 'MV Contender Bezant', Italy)
Acquired: February 1982 by the MOD
Commissioned: 1 June 1988
Pennant number : A135
Call Sign : GDSA
Motto: Occuli Omnium (Eyes Of All)
Nickname: "PCRS", "BUPA Baghdad"
Honours and awards: As the MV Contender Bezant: Falkland Islands 1982.
Status: in active service, as of 2015
Type: Aviation training / Casualty receiving ship
Displacement: 28,081 tonnes
Length: 175.1 m (574 ft 6 in)
Beam: 30.4 m (99 ft 9 in)
Draught: 8.1 m (26 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × Lindholmen Pielstick 18 PC2.5V diesels, twin propellers; bow-thruster
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)
Crew Complement:
80 RFA
50 RN (Part of the Maritime Aviation Support Force)
137 RN air squadron personnel (When embarked)
200 Nursing and Medical Staff (When the Hospital is activated)
Armament: 2 × Oerlikon 20 mm/85 KAA on GAM-BO1 mountings
4 × 7.62mm GPMGs
Seagnat chaff launchers
Aircraft carried: Three spots for Westland Sea Kings, CH47 Chinooks, Westland Merlins, WAH-64 Apache or Westland Lynx
Aviation facilities: 1 Aircraft lift from Flight Deck to 4-Deck number 2 hangar, 4x hangars

Image

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Re: RFA Argus (RFA)

Postby SKB » 25 May 2015, 22:18

RFA Argus exiting Portsmouth

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby marktigger » 25 May 2015, 22:46

I remember her being converted at H&W in Belfast some friends worked on her.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby SKB » 17 Sep 2015, 23:29

More pics of Argus.

Image
^ In the Persian Gulf, 1991

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^ In Mayport, Florida, 2006

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^ Entering Portsmouth, 2010

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^ Entering Portsmouth, 2010

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby arfah » 17 Sep 2015, 23:32

Previously known as MV Contender Bezant - Veteran of Operation Corporate 1982
-<>-<>-<>-

Why this forum is pish!

1: Ineffective moderators
2: Too many fantasists ruining dedicated equipment threads with notions of what gun/mortar/artillery/missiles the equipment should have because it makes their panties moist.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby SKB » 17 Sep 2015, 23:39

Image
^ Before conversion (Falklands requisition)

Image
^ Before

Image
^ After

Image
^ After

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby SKB » 17 Sep 2015, 23:42

I wonder if the QE design team got the twin island idea off Argus? ;)

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby marktigger » 18 Sep 2015, 06:30

wonder if the most expensive paint locker in NATO still exists :?:

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby shark bait » 30 Sep 2015, 22:57

One of the concepts I quite liked from DSEI is the French training ship VN Partisan, provided by Seaowl, which I dont think I've seen discussed around here.

Such a ship has the potential to replace the training element conducted by Argus. The concept is a dirt cheap offshore supply vessel conversion that can be used for aviation and boarding practice as well as other training purposes. It clearly cant replace argus fully, but it could be a more novel solution to separate the training element in an attempt to save cash.

What is the consensus of an Argus replacement as one of these, and a separate casualty receiving ship or real hospital ship.

Image
Royal Marines boarding starts at about 11 mins
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Pseudo » 01 Oct 2015, 21:09

I think that we'd do well to investigate jointly funding a hospital ship or two with the Department for International Development. The DfID could use foreign aid funds to pay for the ship to provide medical services to developing nations (much as Mercy Ships does), but then if there's a military necessity the ship could be transferred to full RFA/RN control.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby shark bait » 01 Oct 2015, 22:18

Pseudo wrote:I think that we'd do well to investigate jointly funding a hospital ship or two with the Department for International Development. The DfID could use foreign aid funds to pay for the ship to provide medical services to developing nations (much as Mercy Ships does), but then if there's a military necessity the ship could be transferred to full RFA/RN control.


Completely agree, I suggested the same thing over at the solid support ship thread. Removes the burden from the navy, plus some flag waving for the UK over the world. Id say it feasible to the DfID already repays the MOD for using their assets. Instead perhaps they should have their own assets operated by the RFA .
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Tiny Toy » 02 Oct 2015, 08:50

Pseudo wrote:I think that we'd do well to investigate jointly funding a hospital ship or two with the Department for International Development. The DfID could use foreign aid funds to pay for the ship to provide medical services to developing nations (much as Mercy Ships does), but then if there's a military necessity the ship could be transferred to full RFA/RN control.

There's no need for any of the funding to come from the defence budget. Even in the event of a military necessity a hospital ship is by definition playing a humanitarian role and should therefore be funded out of the international aid budget. It's a much better use of the money than bunging it into a multilateral pot and having it whittled down by layer upon layer of bureaucracy, amateur logistics, and corrupt third world officials.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Pseudo » 02 Oct 2015, 12:00

Tiny Toy wrote:[quote=&quot;Pseudo&quot;]I think that we'd do well to investigate jointly funding a hospital ship or two with the Department for International Development. The DfID could use foreign aid funds to pay for the ship to provide medical services to developing nations (much as Mercy Ships does), but then if there's a military necessity the ship could be transferred to full RFA/RN control.

There's no need for any of the funding to come from the defence budget. Even in the event of a military necessity a hospital ship is by definition playing a humanitarian role and should therefore be funded out of the international aid budget. It's a much better use of the money than bunging it into a multilateral pot and having it whittled down by layer upon layer of bureaucracy, amateur logistics, and corrupt third world officials.[/quote]
The problem is the politics. The DfID will never fund such ships on their own, particularly if they have a military use. The MoD would have to make such a proposal almost a fait accompli to get the DfID to pitch in.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby GibMariner » 06 Apr 2016, 11:52

Royal Fleet Auxiliary:Written question - 31836

Asked by Sir Nicholas Soames
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has for the replacement of RFA (a) Diligence and (b) Argus after 2025.


Answered by: Mr Philip Dunne
The consideration of options to deliver the capabilities provided by RFA Diligence and RFA Argus remains ongoing.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publi ... -21/31836/

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Engaging Strategy » 06 Apr 2016, 15:02

As some have already pointed out, I really don't get the rationale for not building a dedicated UK hospital ship, completely separate from the military's requirements. With the 0.7% commitment to fund aid and international development we've got a very significant pot of £~12bn to play with. Often the best way of gaining goodwill abroad is visibly helping in a time of real need, what better sign of UK involvement in disaster relief would there be than a British hospital ship? Staff the medical facilities with people from the NHS, draw the crew from the RFA, paint a massive union flag on the side next to the red cross and call her nightingale. I cannot think of a much better advert for the UK abroad than that.

As for Argus' replacement I think we can't discount just how useful she is as an auxiliary aviation and training platform. A big flat deck and ample hangar space need to be a core component of her replacement, especially as we're going to lose Ocean very soon.
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby marktigger » 07 Apr 2016, 12:09

and a dedicated hospital ship has so many legal complexities added to it to make it not viable for the RN/RFA. Argus being in a nice grey area is a very flexible platform, If Argus was a dedicated hospital ship you couldn't use her to transport anything that was going to be used for offensive operations like Transport Helicopters.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby shark bait » 07 Apr 2016, 14:15

We would of course loose the flexibility provided by Argus with a dedicated RFA Nightingale.

I think for the concept to be workable it would require Argus roles to be separated out into a dedicated hospital ship and a dedicated auxiliary helicopter carrier. Assuming the navy convert civilian vessels again such a proposal is feasible.

An RFA Nightingale would only require a core crew of about 15 RFA personnel, with the rest being embarked as a mixture of civilian and military depending on the mission. 15 should be manageable, enabled by Argus and Diligence being replaced by more modern vessels. For the majority of peace time deployment’s costs would be recoverable against the DFDI using the long standing model that is used for operations like the Ebola mission.

  • A converted RORO as a hospital ship
  • A converted PSV as a forward repair ship
  • A converted RORO as an auxiliary helicopter carrier
All could be done in the UK on the cheap, maintaining vital capabilities.
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Engaging Strategy » 07 Apr 2016, 14:32

shark bait wrote:We would of course loose the flexibility provided by Argus with a dedicated RFA Nightingale.


You missed my point, I explicitly stated that a UK hospital ship entirely separate from the military's requirements would be a very good idea, a solid investment for DfID and a spectacular signal of the government's intention to be an "aid superpower". Although she might use RFA personnel to drive and maintain her and likely share a dockyard with the RN she'd be an interdepartmental asset; likely DfID and the NHS with the MoD providing support facilities and a few crew.

I think for the concept to be workable it would require Argus roles to be separated out into a dedicated hospital ship and a dedicated auxiliary helicopter carrier. Assuming the navy convert civilian vessels again such a proposal is feasible.


I think Argus should be replaced like for like, PCRS and auxiliary aviation platform rolled into one big platform makes sense. Also the legal flexibility of the PCRS' status, as some have pointed out, is definitely useful.

  • A converted RORO as a hospital ship
  • A converted PSV as a forward repair ship
  • A converted RORO as an auxiliary helicopter carrier
All could be done in the UK on the cheap, maintaining vital capabilities.


Agree, but build a military combi-PCRS helicopter carrier and a civilian/aid hospital ship.
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Ron5 » 07 Apr 2016, 17:49

A pure hospital ship would spend 99% of it's time rusting away at dockside.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Pseudo » 07 Apr 2016, 19:36

I'd imagine that the idea would be that it would spend most of its time providing routine medical services to communities in developing nations.

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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Caribbean » 08 Apr 2016, 00:36

Pseudo wrote:I'd imagine that the idea would be that it would spend most of its time providing routine medical services to communities in developing nations.

Indeed it would - and it would be a major contributor to the UK's soft-power efforts. Not so much chance for corrupt officials to divert resources for their own benefit either, if the wage bill and supply contracts are all paid through the UK. Maybe team up with the NHS to provide medical training a well as providing free operations

Perhaps paired with a small HADR logistics fleet to pre-position supplies in various parts of the world during their hurricane/ typhoon seasons. Team up with the various Merchant Navy training colleges to provide initial job opportunities
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby shark bait » 08 Apr 2016, 08:20

Engaging Strategy wrote:You missed my point, I explicitly stated that a UK hospital ship entirely separate from the military's requirements would be a very good idea, a solid investment for DfID and a spectacular signal of the government's intention to be an "aid superpower".


If it could be funded like that it would indeed be a worth while investment, doubling down on the UK's soft super power status delivering a very visible response around the world. Disaster relief and medical assistance could keep it busy.

My concern is that's not really how the DfID operate, as far as I can tell almost everything they do I contracted out, they just manage the funding.
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby Engaging Strategy » 08 Apr 2016, 08:29

shark bait wrote:My concern is that's not really how the DfID operate, as far as I can tell almost everything they do I contracted out, they just manage the funding.


They front the money and pay running costs, the MoD and NHS provide the people and facilities with the expertise to run the thing.
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby shark bait » 09 Apr 2016, 01:30

here's a though before I turn in for the night.

Convert the wave class into replacements for Argus and Diligence, and order another 2 tides from Korea, leaving the RFA with a modern, high commonality, high capability fleet.

They might both look like bigger versions of this.
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Re: RFA Argus (Casualty Receiving Ship / Aviation Training Ship) (RFA)

Postby marktigger » 09 Apr 2016, 14:37

where are the "spare" NHS staff going to come from? The NHS has Major shortages of staff to keep itself running before you bring in expensive and irrelevant side shows to its core functions.

BTW you talk about the "NHS" as if its a single entity like the Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxilary........guess what it isn't nurses and doctors aren't employed by the "NHS" they are employed by (in England) one of

154 acute trusts (including 101 foundation trusts)
56 mental health trusts (including 43 foundation trusts)
37 community providers (15 NHS trusts, 3 foundation trusts and 19 social enterprises)
10 ambulance trusts (including 5 foundation trusts)
7,875 GP practices
853 for-profit and not-for-profit independent sector organisations, providing care to NHS patients from 7,331 locations

and Scotland, wales and Northern ireland have similar set ups.

The NHS is a Brand name it is not and never has been an integrated organisation!


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