820 NAS deploys with RFA Argus to Sierra Leone
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Argus began her journey south to Sierra Leone on Friday (17th October) as a pivotal element of the UK’s role in the response to the Ebola outbreak.
The aviation support ship sailed from Falmouth with Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy personnel and Royal Marines onboard, along with three Merlin helicopters, aircrew and engineers from 820 Naval Air Squadron.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited RFA Argus earlier in the week to emphasise the leading role which the UK has taken in tackling the crisis in Sierra Leone.
On the ship’s deployment, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The UK is leading the international fight against Ebola.
"The deployment of RFA Argus is absolutely key to that effort - not only to help save lives in Sierra Leone but also to help keep Britain safe from this terrible disease.
“I saw for myself when I visited Falmouth on Tuesday the deeply impressive preparations which RFA Argus’s crew have made to tackle the wide range of demanding challenges which they will have to overcome.
"It gives me great pride to thank the crew for their outstanding work and wish them a safe voyage.”
On arrival in Sierra Leone, RFA Argus will play a vital role in transporting medical teams and equipment and assisting experts deployed to help tackle the Ebola epidemic.
As RFA Argus departed, her crew lined the decks to wave farewell to UK shores for a deployment that is expected to last up to six months.
Captain David Eagles, Commanding Officer of RFA Argus, said:
“My ship’s company and embarked personnel will be able to offer tactical support to the Department for International Development effort ashore by using the Merlin helicopters to move personnel, stores and equipment.
"The Royal Marines will be able to operate in a logistics role and the medical team will be on hand to offer reassurance.
“All personnel on board have been prepared for the deployment; the education and training will continue on the journey south, and then we will lead and supervise once we have arrived in Sierra Leone.”
RFA Argus will transport 35 pallets of ration packs and over 5,000 bottles of water, on top of her own water osmosis plant, to Sierra Leona.
Also on board will be two landing craft and three rigid hull inflatable boats.
By the end of October, Defence’s total contribution to the UK’s work to tackle Ebola in Sierra Leone will amount to 750 personnel; and the UK’s treatment centres will provide direct medical care for up to 8,800 Ebola patients over six months.
Video interview with Captain David Eagles.