The flat-deck casualty receiving ship RFA Argus has set sail for the Caribbean to support the British Overseas Territories during the upcoming hurricane season and the Covid-19 pandemic.Argus is a converted container ship fitted with an aviation deck and a 70-bed hospital facility. As she is an armed fleet auxiliary she is not formally classified as a hospital ship, but she has extensive medical capabilities, including ICU beds and medical imaging equipment. She has previous experience with infectious disease response, as she was deployed to Sierra Leone in 2014 to provide aid during an ebola outbreak.

RFA Argus’ current deployment to the Caribbean had been scheduled for the hurricane season, but she will now be able to play a part in ensuring the UK government can support its overseas territories during the pandemic.

“The Armed Forces are taking decisive and coordinated action both at home and overseas to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. The Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have worked hard to ensure that RFA Argus is ready for the hurricane season in the Caribbean and now also able to support the UK’s Overseas Territories during the pandemic,” said Minister of State for Defence Jeremy Quinn. “The deployment of this ship is just one way the UK Government is supporting communities at home and overseas as together we face the biggest public health emergency in a generation.”

On board RFA Argus are Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Navy sailors and aviators from 815 Naval Air Squadron, 845 Naval Air Squadron and 1700 Naval Air Squadron. A medical team could later join Argus in the Caribbean to support the UK Government’s contribution to responding to Covid-19.

Argus carries emergency stores to respond as the hurricane season approaches, including provisions of water and ration packs from the Department for International Development. She is also equipped with materials to repair damage and clear blocked roads in support of local emergency services.