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RFA ARGUS replacement - what and when?

Yokel

LE
RFA Argus started life as an Italian container ship, then she was taken up from trade during the Falklands War, and later was purchased by MOD UK and converted into an aviation training ship, taking aircraft and personnel to train at sea. Recently this has included Army Apaches and I imagine RAF Chinooks have also operated from her deck. In the eighties the PR people claimed that in wartime she could act as another 'aircraft carrier' - presumably with ASW Sea Kings embarked.

Apart from aviation training, she has deployed in a medical role as a floating hospital to the Gulf in 1991 and 2003, and following the abandonment of the SDR 98 idea she was designated as the Primary Casualty Receiving Ship, and more recently went to Sierra Leone in 2014 as part of anti Ebola efforts. She also acted as a makeshift LPH in the Adriatic in 1993 (she carried 29 Cdo Regt RA and their 105mm guns - I am not sure if she had Jungly Sea King aboard to save deck space aboard HMS Ark Royal), and had acted as a platform for helicopters of live operations a number of times - such as taking Sea King ASaCs East of Suez, and just this year operated three Jungly Merlin HC4 and two Wildcat AH1 for BALTOPS.

However, she is rather old (over forty years!). What plans are there to replace her?

@instinct? @Not a Boffin?
 
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RFA Argus started life as an Italian container ship, then she was taken up from trade during the Falklands War, and later was purchased by MOD UK and converted into an aviation training ship, taking aircraft and personnel to train at sea. Recently this has included Army Apaches and I imagine RAF Chinooks have also operated from her deck. In the eighties the PR people claimed that in wartime she could act as another 'aircraft carrier' - presumably with ASW Sea Kings embarked.

Apart from aviation training, she has deployed in a medical role as a floating hospital to the Gulf in 1991 and 2003, and following the abandonment of the SDR 98 idea she was designated as the Primary Casualty Receiving Facility, and more recently went to Sierra Leone in 2014 as part of anti Ebola efforts. She also acted as a makeshift LPH in the Adriatic in 1993 (she carried 29 Cdo Regt RA and their 105mm guns - I am not sure if she had Jungly Sea King aboard to save deck space aboard HMS Ark Royal), and had acted as a platform for helicopters of live operations a number of times - such as taking Sea King ASaCs East of Suez, and just this year operated three Jungly Merlin HC4 and two Wildcat AH1 for BALTOPS.

However, she is rather old (over forty years!). What plans are there to replace her?

@instinct? @Not a Boffin?

I thought that Argus only came out of a major refit in January 2019?
 

endure

GCM
"In 2009, the PCRS role became the ship's primary function.[2] Argus is due to remain in service until 2024.[3] "

"In June 2018, following a year-long refit, she embarked Merlin HC4 helicopters of 845 Naval Air Squadron and Wildcats of 847 NAS which practised amphibious landings in support of exercise Baltic Protector in the Baltic Sea.[19] "

 

Daxx

MIA
Book Reviewer
She is going to be replaced with iPads and Amazon.
 
She is getting old.

I'd say preferably a bit faster (20+ knots). Bigger hospital area ( say 120 beds rather than 70 odd(?) of now and the required equipment for a role 3.

Helis are a must, at the moment I think Argus has quite a good heli capability (being used to train flyers) but not sure if that gets degraded when the hospital kicks in. Hanger and capability to land helis like Chinook and Osprey and support a small number of small helis (Lynx or similar) on board. Make the deck as large as possible so it can also carry extra containers.

Whip the weapons off so that she can be a true hospital ship. Include a RORO/container facility. I'd invisage this to contain wheeled ambulances for putting ashore and some container clinics and humanitarian supplies such as rations, shelter and clothing. Extra could be stored on the heli deck. The hospital complement could include crew for these clinics if deployed, and humanitarian supplies would be sorted by the matelots/helis.

She also needs a good water purification plant on board, capable of sorting out water for embarked crew and medics with some spare capacity for areas that need it.

Basically an 'Assault ship' sort of hull directed towards humanitarian aid in the first instance and supporting ops as required.

Practice sending her to 'disaster' with the remainder of the crew joining by vertrep from other ships, landing in a close by port for pick up or by chinooks/ospreys bringing them in by air.

Helis and air ops are a must for a Hospital Ship, so give her a really good capability and the ship could be used as Argus is now for training.
 
She is getting old.

I'd say preferably a bit faster (20+ knots). Bigger hospital area ( say 120 beds rather than 70 odd(?) of now and the required equipment for a role 3.

Helis are a must, at the moment I think Argus has quite a good heli capability (being used to train flyers) but not sure if that gets degraded when the hospital kicks in. Hanger and capability to land helis like Chinook and Osprey and support a small number of small helis (Lynx or similar) on board. Make the deck as large as possible so it can also carry extra containers.

Whip the weapons off so that she can be a true hospital ship. Include a RORO/container facility. I'd invisage this to contain wheeled ambulances for putting ashore and some container clinics and humanitarian supplies such as rations, shelter and clothing. Extra could be stored on the heli deck. The hospital complement could include crew for these clinics if deployed, and humanitarian supplies would be sorted by the matelots/helis.

She also needs a good water purification plant on board, capable of sorting out water for embarked crew and medics with some spare capacity for areas that need it.

Basically an 'Assault ship' sort of hull directed towards humanitarian aid in the first instance and supporting ops as required.

Practice sending her to 'disaster' with the remainder of the crew joining by vertrep from other ships, landing in a close by port for pick up or by chinooks/ospreys bringing them in by air.

Helis and air ops are a must for a Hospital Ship, so give her a really good capability and the ship could be used as Argus is now for training.

She's in service til 2024 at the moment and probably will go further than that. Unless they are planning to address her replacement after the next lot of RFA vessels are finished and in-service. Though given the other projects on the go, she may end up being low priority.

You won't see them create a totally 'true' hospital ship however.
 
She's in service til 2024 at the moment and probably will go further than that. Unless they are planning to address her replacement after the next lot of RFA vessels are finished and in-service. Though given the other projects on the go, she may end up being low priority.

You won't see them create a totally 'true' hospital ship however.
Could get money back if we did.

Pimp her out to the U.N.etc.
 
. . . . Whip the weapons off so that she can be a true hospital ship . . . .

Basically an 'Assault ship' sort of hull directed towards humanitarian aid in the first instance and supporting ops as required.

Practice sending her to 'disaster' with the remainder of the crew joining by vertrep from other ships, landing in a close by port for pick up or by chinooks/ospreys bringing them in by air.

Helis and air ops are a must for a Hospital Ship, so give her a really good capability and the ship could be used as Argus is now for training.

Armament:

Having not read the Geneva Convention for quite a while ( . . . if ever!!), I can not imagine such existing self-defence weapons would preclude her from being classed as a hospital ship?!
 
Could get money back if we did.

Pimp her out to the U.N.etc.

We won't. She'll be fitted for defensive weaponry and fill the PCRS role rather than out and out Hospital Ship. Along with any other taskings RNHQ and Whitehall decide they need her to do. Way it goes.

Can see Argus' replacement getting lost in the priorities and bustle of Type 31, Littoral Strike, Fleet Solid Support Ship and SSN(R) sadly as it's a 'mundane' and 'one-off' platform in comparison.

Though the shifting of CSS (Commercially Supported Shipping) over to the Warship Support area of DE&S means that the RFA might get better support for once, if WS don't just raid CSS for manpower.
 
A lot to digest there. As far as anyone in the RFA I have talked to knows there is no plan and wont be until we get the Future Solid Support Ships at least in build as supporting Carrier strike is the number one priority.

I would be interested if there is any thought of rolling them into the Littoral Strike Ship concept but I haven't heard anything more about them. There was a thought from an old Commodore RFA I talked to about FSS Being more re roll-able ( and having a "steel beach" and other stuff for supporting amphibious ops) but that has fallen by the wayside as far as i can tell.

The Argus has just come out of a refit, But that has only really plastered over the cracks. She was meant to have most of the stuff done to her in this refit in 2014 after Sierra Leone, but that was sacrificed on the alter of HMS Ocean at the time. She is very fragile mechanically and its a miracle she is still going.

IF she was a hospital ship then it would massively limit what we could do with her and how we could use her on Ops. As well as leaving her unprotected in the modern unconventional threat world we live in.
 
I confidently predicted the PCRS part of ARGUS' capability will be replaced. As will the Aviation Training Ship section of it.

I offer zero predictions as to whether they'll be in the same hull, or done in the same way as they are now.
 

Yokel

LE

Doh!

She is getting old.

I'd say preferably a bit faster (20+ knots). Bigger hospital area ( say 120 beds rather than 70 odd(?) of now and the required equipment for a role 3.

Helis are a must, at the moment I think Argus has quite a good heli capability (being used to train flyers) but not sure if that gets degraded when the hospital kicks in. Hanger and capability to land helis like Chinook and Osprey and support a small number of small helis (Lynx or similar) on board. Make the deck as large as possible so it can also carry extra containers.

Whip the weapons off so that she can be a true hospital ship. Include a RORO/container facility. I'd invisage this to contain wheeled ambulances for putting ashore and some container clinics and humanitarian supplies such as rations, shelter and clothing. Extra could be stored on the heli deck. The hospital complement could include crew for these clinics if deployed, and humanitarian supplies would be sorted by the matelots/helis.

She also needs a good water purification plant on board, capable of sorting out water for embarked crew and medics with some spare capacity for areas that need it.

Basically an 'Assault ship' sort of hull directed towards humanitarian aid in the first instance and supporting ops as required.

Practice sending her to 'disaster' with the remainder of the crew joining by vertrep from other ships, landing in a close by port for pick up or by chinooks/ospreys bringing them in by air.

Helis and air ops are a must for a Hospital Ship, so give her a really good capability and the ship could be used as Argus is now for training.

Combining three conflicting roles into one vessel must make for interesting conversations at MOD and NCHQ!

I am sure there was a project to determine what surgical procedures could be performed in what sea states, which suggests larger vessels are going to be better.

The US operates two Hospital Ships - USNS Comfort and Mercy that are civilian crewed (like an RFA) but with naval/military medics. However, declaring them as Hospital Ships and painting then white with Red Crosses may not stop a Third World despot from attacking them - so perhaps a grey colour and some weapons other than small arms might be helpful.

Also I think the Americans have dedicated MEDEVAC helicopters - with medical insignia. We do not, and a non medical helicopter landing aboard a Hospital Ship could be given enough fuel to make it ashore or to another ship, but not to perform an operational sortie such as inserting troops or carrying ammunition.
 
Doh!



Combining three conflicting roles into one vessel must make for interesting conversations at MOD and NCHQ!

I am sure there was a project to determine what surgical procedures could be performed in what sea states, which suggests larger vessels are going to be better.

The US operates two Hospital Ships - USNS Comfort and Mercy that are civilian crewed (like an RFA) but with naval/military medics. However, declaring them as Hospital Ships and painting then white with Red Crosses may not stop a Third World despot from attacking them - so perhaps a grey colour and some weapons other than small arms might be helpful.

Also I think the Americans have dedicated MEDEVAC helicopters - with medical insignia. We do not, and a non medical helicopter landing aboard a Hospital Ship could be given enough fuel to make it ashore or to another ship, but not to perform an operational sortie such as inserting troops or carrying ammunition.
Comfort and mercy are big slow beasts. Apparently converted from old tankers. They're so big they are hardly used. They have to be 'activated'.

if the hospital shop is an issue. Up arm her again. Especially with miniguns and some small sam. I think the Scandinavian babies use stinger on some of their smaller vessels.

Supporting helis could be a real asset in a disaster area.

A lot of those casevac helis also carry miniguns. Although their dedicated medevacs are classed as ambulances.
 
Doh!



Combining three conflicting roles into one vessel must make for interesting conversations at MOD and NCHQ!

I am sure there was a project to determine what surgical procedures could be performed in what sea states, which suggests larger vessels are going to be better.

The US operates two Hospital Ships - USNS Comfort and Mercy that are civilian crewed (like an RFA) but with naval/military medics. However, declaring them as Hospital Ships and painting then white with Red Crosses may not stop a Third World despot from attacking them - so perhaps a grey colour and some weapons other than small arms might be helpful.

Also I think the Americans have dedicated MEDEVAC helicopters - with medical insignia. We do not, and a non medical helicopter landing aboard a Hospital Ship could be given enough fuel to make it ashore or to another ship, but not to perform an operational sortie such as inserting troops or carrying ammunition.
The Americans do have dedicated MEDIVAC helicopters.

They can often be seen with a big Red Cross painted on them and a mini gun hanging off them.
 
Comfort and mercy are big slow beasts. Apparently converted from old tankers. They're so big they are hardly used. They have to be 'activated'.

if the hospital shop is an issue. Up arm her again. Especially with miniguns and some small sam. I think the Scandinavian babies use stinger on some of their smaller vessels.

Supporting helis could be a real asset in a disaster area.

A lot of those casevac helis also carry miniguns. Although their dedicated medevacs are classed as ambulances.
It's not that simple. As a hospital ship you can't do fitted for not with when it comes to weapons. And I don't think the modern RN can just bolt minigun tripods to the side like they did in the early OO's. Everything has to be tested and signed off these days.



Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
 
Let's start with the obvious - the requirement. Does a requirement exist for PCRC and / or ATS capabilities - irrespective of whatever other fantasy fleet nonsense people want to bung onto them.

Answer on both is yes - PCRC requirement was confirmed in SDR98 (yes that far back) and consistently unfunded since. Or more precisely, the cost of patching up Argus "for another few years" has been consistently cheaper than acquiring new ships. From memory, OSD was 2016, then 2020 and now 2024. Trouble is that the basis for that is essentially CSS being told to bung another 4 years worth of Argus support into their budget, irrespective of feasibility - which is where the fragility element cuts in. That's before you get to the certification element for stability, strength, fire safety, escape & evac etc. Trouble with the PCRC requirement is that there's still a large bunch of people who think it can be "modular" (either Army Field hospital in containers, or semi-permanent container farm held at readiness to embark on suitable ship). All of which can be argued as militating against buying a permanent ship - and so the circular argument will go on until either the ship falls over (hopefully not literally) or someone finds a pot of money (JOs for leprechauns in NCHQ anyone?). AS noted earlier, FSS is the current problem du jour.

The ATS capability requirement was at one stage enough to justify an entire ship on its own. It suddenly underwent a significant downscope - whether that now tallies with what the rotorhead training pipeline needs to look like or not, I don't know. One might think that with two big deck carriers, an ATS capability was a no-brainer, but some people might argue the lower readiness carrier might provide that without too much trouble. Short version - don't expect anyone to ride over the hill with a pot of money or a cast-iron requirement any time soon.

All of which means that at present it's probably all too difficult because :
1. Money is tight
2. Requirements are such that they can be argued as being semi-permanent / not a dedicated ship
3. There are bigger fish to fry.
4. See 1 above.

Get some Leonard Cohen choons on, cos that's the mood.
 

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