Maritime Aviation Support Force on RFA Argus
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ARGUS has set sail to North America to get ready for the hurricane season. Onboard are a team from the Royal Navy’s Maritime Aviation Support Force (MASF), and they are ready to provide aid, whatever the conditions.
ARGUS set sail last Saturday and is currently on passage across the North Atlantic. Her mixed complement of Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy and Royal Marines are preparing to undertake a number of tasks, principally the delivery of humanitarian aid in the event of a natural disaster. She is carrying a large amount of disaster relief stores and has a Lynx helicopter embarked to assist in this vital work.
The Royal Navy’s Maritime Aviation Support Force, who is based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Helston, flies under the motto, ‘Reaching the Heights with help’. The Force maintains a permanent presence on RFA ARGUS and provides the full range of aviation support required for operations and training. The Ships’ Company have been further enhanced with the addition of a recently formed Humanitarian and Disaster Relief team who will provide additional manpower to aid rebuilding of devastated areas.
Commanding Officer of MASF, Lieutenant Commander Gillett said “MASF are an integral and important element of the ARGUS Ships’ Company. We collectively have a unique cross section of skills, training and experience and look forward to the challenges ahead. The Caribbean hurricane season will soon be upon us and we are all very keen to assist in any way possible.”
When asked about how they felt about operating in the Caribbean; the Senior Naval Officer Lt Cdr Hughes said “Everybody on board is looking forward to this deployment and for many it will be a trip of a lifetime. This is what we joined up for. We will take part in multi national exercises and celebrations commemorating the 1812 War of Independence in the USA before we head to the Caribbean. There we will be conducting the serious business of Hurricane and disaster relief to UK Overseas Territories whilst continuing to maintain a Royal Naval presence within the wider region. This is the serious part to our deployment and the teams are determined to provide all the help and support they can where ever and when ever the time comes.”
MASF are an unusual part of the Navy, all personnel are on five days notice to move and face a rigorous schedule. With a manpower pool of just over 250, MASF deploy their people independently to augment operational units around the globe. Recent other deployments have seen the support force dealing with counter piracy of the coast of Somalia as well as providing man power on board HMS OCEAN for the Olympic security operations.