Further memorandum from the Ministry of
1. RFA Argus was originally
launched in 1981 as Contender Bezant; a combination freight, roll
on and roll off ferry (RORO) and container ship. She was one of
the ships taken up from trade by the MoD for use in the 1982 Falklands
2. Following purchase by the
MoD in 1985, she was converted to an aviation training ship at
the shipyard of Harland & Wolff, Belfast, with the addition
of extended accommodation, a flight deck, aircraft lifts, naval
radar and communication suites. Another role of RFA Argus has
been that of RORO vehicle transport, with vehicles carried in
the hangar and on the flight deck. She performed this role in
support of United Nations operations in the former Yugoslavia.
3. A Primary Casualty Receiving
Facility (PCRF) was added before Argus was sent to participate
in the 1991 Gulf War.
4. RFA Argus's primary role
is now as a PCRF. PCRF is a purpose-built Role 3 medical treatment
facility, which provides the Royal Navy with a floating hospital
5. The facility offers 100
patient beds; comprised of 10 Intensive Therapy beds, 20 High
Dependency and 70 general beds. It also possesses a range of state
of the art medical equipment and accommodates personnel with the
relevant clinical expertise.
6. The PCRF can be manned
to provide 3 levels of capability, involving the use of 25 beds,
50 beds and 100 beds. The mix of specialists that can be provided
on board is tailored to the mission requirements but can include:
Full laboratory capability
7. All medical specialties
are supported by trained and experienced nursing and medical staff.
8. The hospital facility was
initially fitted for the first Gulf conflict in 1991 as a portacabin
structure. A major rebuild of the facility took place in 2001
which has resulted in the present permanent facility. RFA Argus
deployed to the Iraq war in 2003 and regularly takes part in exercises
in company with other vessels designed to test her PCRF capability.
9. Exercise Medical Endeavour
will take place between 23 September and 6 October 2007. The exercise
will dovetail with a 3 Cdo Bde exercise and will allow interplay
between the Role 1 and 2 medical facilities on shore within 3
Cdo Bde and the Role 3 (hospital) facility on RFA Argus.
10. During operations and
exercises, clinical staff drawn predominantly from the Ministry
of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) in Portsmouth and Plymouth join
the vessel to allow her to deliver the levels of medical expertise
11. When the PCRF is not required
for operations and exercises, RFA Argus still routinely operates
as a Helicopter Platform Landing Training vessel. On these occasions,
the PCRF is maintained by a small permanent cadre of 3 personnel.
Additionally, a number of posts are pre-identified in Ministry
of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) to provide Command and Control
of the Facility. For example, Commanding Officer MDHU Derriford
is also Commanding Officer PCRF.
11 July 2007
29 Staff are mainly Royal Navy personnel, although
there are a small number of posts filled by the other Services. Back