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Mike D

If we can still afford the overseas aid budget when the dust settles, one hopes it will be spent on a fleet of hospital ships.




“a fleet of hospital ships”?


You haven’t read the article have you?

Gavin Gordon

There is no near future funding conundrum here. Utilize part of the DFID budget for an adequate and flexible replacement.


When they eventually do the Defence and Security review they should really look at acquiring a purpose built thousand bed hospital ship out of the aid budget. 90% of the time it would provide a mobile naval hospital for third world countries but would be invaluable to the UK in times like these. Either that or a couple of Littoral aid ships with hospital facilities. One could be forward based in the Caribbean and the other in the middle east. They would do far more good in terms of aid than funding corrupt regimes.

Maybe call them Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship Princess Diana & Queen Mother.


I was just reading that the predictions (which are not exactly accurate) are for a busy season as well:


This, and the Bay class have outstanding usefulness not just in a war time environment but improving foreign relations. As such I see no reason as to replacements not being funded from the overseas aid budget.


Agreed the Bays are fantastic vessels and some of the most hard worked ships we have. Why not purchase another 2-3 of these with hangars and use them in the role of hospital ship in peacetime and pay for their build and running costs from the Foreign aid budget.


As everyone keeps saying, it is scandalous this ship is not being replaced by 2 or 3.
All paid for our of our generous foreign aid budget, instead of pissing it away on foreign NGO’s to live on 6 figure salaries.

Richard Graham

Great article apart from the Falklands War reference again – ARGUS wasn’t commissioned until 1988 following conversion at H&W.


Nevertheless she was taken up from trade and was in the Falklands during the war in 1982, just not under the name Argus.


From Wikepedia – Italian-built, Argus was formerly the container ship MV Contender Bezant. The ship was requisitioned in 1982 for service in the Falklands War and purchased outright in 1984 for use as an Aviation Training Ship, replacing RFA Engadine


I was on the infamous Chinook that landed on Argos and decided to cut 2ft of its blades. The pilot landed too far forward and hit the structure. That was a fun day!

David Graham

Argus in her original guise as the container ship MV Contender Bezant was a STUFT during the 1982 Operation Corporate.


Argus has never been commissioned. It is a proud Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel.


Well at least RFA Argus is being used for her medical abilities 😊 British Overseas Territories are the responsibility of the UK to protect and now that NHS Nightingale is getting operational Argus’s limited but useful capacity (100 beds and 10 ICU Beds IIRC) can be used elsewhere. Shame we done have a full blown hospital ship but I am glad we have RFA Argus.


Requisition a cruise liner in times like this, a much better choice for the the capacity for patients, medical staff and its existing ‘hotel services’. The specialised medical bedside equipment is the main item to have on standby but thats tricky as it needs to be still serviced and used .


The main “item” is trained clinical staff, not equipment. And the trained clinical staff are all working their arses off in NHS hospitals.


Not all of UK is in same situation as London.
In my country where we took strong measures very early and those in hospital are very very low they are saying hospitals are 50% of capacity. The GP clinics have lower numbers as well as amny consults are done over the phone and the generally worried well worry about other things.comment image


There is a lag. Airline staff are being called up, the army and fire service are delivering PPE, the retired are being recalled to service and non-clinical staff (including me) are being asked to volunteer for frontline duties.. No-one has the time or inclination to be playing around with cruise ships.


Not every occasion where a hospital ship is required is a once in a century pandemic. Have you heard of volunteers?


Have you read my post above, the one that you’re replying to?


The DMS (Defence medical Service) is staffed by around 11,200 service personnel (7,600 regular and 3,600 reserve) and 2,200 civilian personnel
They can be deployed from those numbers
You arent making any points at all, and as I said this type of Hospital ship is not designed for a once in a century pandemic like they have in UK at present.


Right, now you need to go back and read your first post when you said, “ in times like this”.

And hurrah for Googling Defence Medical Services.


Not all of the 7,600 active soldiers, sailors and airmen, in the DMS are doctors, the vast majority are medics whose primary training is in the immediate stabilisation of trauma cases and very minor primary healthcare duties.
Most of the Doctors already have placements either within NHS frameworks or within army Medical Centres, where they have a duty of care already. With Reserves, the vast majority of reservists working in DMS work within the NHS (hence why they are put into DMS reserves). Ideal for when a military situation calls for more medical staff, not so ideal when a civilian disaster calls for increases in NHS staffing.


I didn’t know Hms Medway was permanently deployed in the Caribbean

Phillip Johnson

How much longer can Argus remain in service, it was converted from an existing merchant hull nearly 40 years ago.
I seem to remember that the conversion required some of the hatch covers to be inverted and filled with concrete to maintain stability.
Argus is a very, very old lady originally designed for another purpose.


Until the point where the RFA can no longer bribe or beg the MCA / Lloyds for exemptions to keep the ship in the water.

The RFA is very very good at re-purposing ships to do things that they were never designed for(Think Bay boats) and this goes double for the Argus over it’s lifespan.

A replacement is badly needed but as always comes down to money.


Now would be the time to go into the commercial market place and buy a suitable vessel of recent build to convert. Please, please do not let the MoD near this; appoint a ship broker from the commercial world who knows what he is doing.