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This is all good and well, and a great idea,
but sadly talking to the British government, you might as well talk to aliens, they would talk for years , then if anything just kick it to the long grass whilst still giving to china and India and others,

a great idea for our ship yards , workers , and world recognition ,
but our government at this moment just wants to close everything and save money, with the exception of the overseas aid.

Erick Turner

Sounds like a good use for the HMS Illustious until such a ship could be built.

Dave Shirlaw

Would the UK have the nerve to put a cross on a ship?


in which way a cross being a nerve
we have had hospital ships in the past..


we would to conform with the u.n convention

4th watch

HMY Britannia was supposed to have been convertible into a Hospital ship except she may have been too small, had no facility for a helipad and never used as such. However she did have the large spaces for wards.

Its a good idea to have a hospital ship as opposed to shore based medical facilities, because its sovereign territory. Go for it.


Well I think it would be a very good idea if the government, rather than scrap the illustrious carrier, she could spend to have it converted to a hospital ship,.


Sounds good to me maybe we could develop the concept a tad further say have one deployed permanently in the south east Asia region and one deployed during the hurricane season in the West Indies.

Brian Smith

Such a simple and obviously good idea. The ships suggested could provide valuable continuing aid to poorer parts of the world and be available for service in hotspots whenever they emerged.
Massive fillip to the north east/Scotland while they are being built, tremendous training platform for our medics, helo crews etc and absolutely invaluable sea time for our sailors.
This must surely be an effective – and proper – way for overseas aid to be spent? Better even than building hospitals overseas which fall into disrepair due to poor management and supporting infrastructure.
Who could argue against this? Why isn’t it already happening? How can people like me help to get it into the politicos’ heads?

ian potter

I for one also think the foreign aid budget should be switched to the mod/defence funds to get our forces upto scratch.
we need 4 x45s 4 more astutes,4 opvs ,keep the army at its current force,get to grips with this f35 program.48 units isn’t any good for 2 65000 ton super carriers for gods sake.
And increase the number of special forces this is a must.!!


Please get your facts right! The medical facility in Argus was created f or the first Gulf war.


@Mary As correctly stated in the piece, the MV Contender Bezant was taken up from trade for use in the Falklands War. She was purchased by the MoD in 1984, renamed Argus and converted to aviation ship. The Medical facility was indeed fitted just before the 1st Gulf War as heavy casualties were considered a possibility.

Steve Gresham

How can a grate sea powering nation with so much history behind it,the uk government can’t build a fully operational hospital ship for our forces,but then again I can’t believe the the uk government is shrinking the Royal Navy so much that god forbid that if ww111 should brake out that we as a famouse sea fareing nation and a proud Royal Navy wont have enough deep sea frontline war ships to fight and keep our sea lanes open.we as a grate country need to desperately to build more type 45 destroyers,think about atleast ten,then about 15 type 26 frigates,bring back corvets around 15,and bring back cruisers to the fleet,as well as the two new aircraft carriers,and two large fully operational hospital ships,reopen Gibraltar as fully operational base,as gib has dry docks already,in 2014 the Royal Navy can no longer protect our own shores let alone all our world obligations.bring back britains pride and start building more ships before there a time when we can’t even defend our own shores beause of a lack of ships.theres a lot of countrys financially worse of than the uk yet some of those countrys have a far bigger navy than the uk has.what this government is doing with the Royal Navy is wrong,it has to start building more powerful ships that we can protect our interests around the world and still have enough warships as the home fleet,teknoladgy is all well and good but it doesn’t mean anything when you start loosing ships after they’ve been hit once with missiles or torpedo,what happens after twenty something warships have all been hit and no ships left to fight,we get invaded,this country has only survived for so long with out being invaded because in main it’s been the Royal Navy that has protected our shores,government start building more ships now before we end up regretting that we cut the navy to such a level that there’s no defences left.


please sign this petition so that we can try and make this happen. Thank You.

paul howard

a brilliant idea


the petition is archived waste of time trying

Ronald Lockley

I know, the problem I think is that this forum does not have a wide enough audience. Possibly we could restart the petition but in a wider sense. I do intend however to approach my MP directly for the case of hospital ships and a wider International response fleet( please see my post). I have spoken with many people who thinks its a good and workable idea.


why after fitting out the argus with 100 beds, are we talking about another ship? its not going to happen. a ship bought from trade and fitted out would be a cheaper and probably quicker option.


The government should use some of the foreign aid budget to buy the two Mistral class boats and convert them to hospital ships.


not a bad idea the mistral with its far larger stowage deck is a great option to replace ocean, plus the french want rid of the two ‘laid up’ the R.N. might even get a good deal on them

Ronald Lockley

I have often argued that the International aid budget could be used for both AID and an increase to defence in times of crisis as well as assisting the NHS.
By placing orders for the replacement of HMS Ocean, Albion and Bulwark whilst these ships still have a usable life span and placing these three vessels with their associated vehicles and helicopters to a international aid/response fleet the RN can then utilise these ships if needed in times of crisis. Two hospital ships could be built/rebuilt each with 500-750 beds and as suggested with drive on ramps and a helicopter hanger. Again for international aid however if they are not responding to situations can be used by the NHS for day operations or by the RN in times of war. these existing ships and equipment could be bought by the International Aid budget from the MoD and reinvested into the new build ships reducing the overall cost.
The manning of these vessels can be with RNR/MVS/Merchant Navy students personnel for experience and NHS medical students for their practical experience.


Good idea but won’t happen over seas aid is a good idea but shouldn’t be money it should be goods or services so the money is spent here in this country to benefit our people. No money should ever be given to India or China or any country that has nuclear weapons as if they can afford them then they can look after there own people if we needed it who would come to our aid

Steve Clothier

What an eminently sensible idea. The concept of foreign aid is still very much well supported but its often reported abuse by some recipient governments wears away at continuing public good-will. The use of aid funding to refit existing vessels or plan new builds would offer lifelines to our remaining shipyards. If we can produce niche vessels like the much publicised ‘Sir David Attenborough’ then purpose built hospital ships should still be a practical option. Spend aid money by all means, but spend it smartly.


convert a bay class no problem


paint it white, but keeping argus not retiring it makes more sense its already fitted out with 100 casualty beds


Argus is getting old she was launched in 1981 and “acquired” by the UK in 1982 and purchased outright in 1984 or 1985 she has been worked far harder than anyone ever thought possible.

A new class of hospital ships or disaster relief ships with flight deck, helicopters and hangar, operating rooms, 100+beds, desalination equipment etc makes a great deal of sense it could be part or fully paid by the overseas development agency and stationed in vulnerable natural disaster areas overseas and then “rented” out by the MoD for the duration of a deployment military or humanitarian.

Tony D

HMS Ocean has the flight decks ..not sure if she’s suitable in other ways ?


Whilst my comment may not be specifically RN related it does touch an aspect of UK Overseas Aid that really concerns me. I have just retired after 30+ years working in the overseas construction industry often in poor or remote or problem countries. Often I have been involved with large Overseas Aid Projects (not just UK but also various countries aid) I have found and often had to deal with the three biggest problems aid donors have to overcome. These three major problems are corruption, more corruption and even more corruption. It is endemic and the poorer and needier the country the greater the corruption. It comes from everywhere, from small local village mafias to goverment ministers and presidents. The problem is not just the money going out as graft, presents, etc. but also the massively expensive bureocratic fixes the western foreign government bureaucrats impose to try and stop it,

One of the more capable countries I have seen for dealing with the corruption is Japan, who basically did not give monetary hand outs to governments but donated needed items i.e. bridges, hospitals, roads, etc. which they had built not by locals but by Japanese companies. It’s win, win situation for both countries one gets the help, where needed and the Japan gets help for it’s export industry.

Surely, the UK could have a win, win and more wins if significant parts of the UK Aid money was allocated on the same basis as the Japanese. For example, build some slightly smaller UK hospital ships, operated by the RFA which could be allocated where ever needed overseas, but on condition that they are released, as required, back to the Royal Navy when serious military circumstances dictate. 4 or 5 such ships on rotation like this may equate to 2 or 3 hospitals (ships) working 24/7 where needed aiding both the UK military and an afflicted country. Why stop at hospital ships, what about Ro-Ro ships as ferries ( with say Bay class type ships), Coast guard ships (with OAPs), Drilling fresh water wells (with Army Engineers), building remote airstrips (Army Engineers), Air Ambulances/ Air Sea Rescue (with RAF/RN) etc. The possibilities are numerous with lots of winners and the main losers being the purveyors of corruption.

Jim Silver

This type of ship is essential and if paid for from Overseas Development money and built or converted in the UK, there is no need to look for the funding. The ship would also be good for smaller commonwealth countries and dependent territories, bringing first class medical care on regular tours and visits.

Ed Unger

Converting a former warship like Illustrious is problematical since it would take a large crew to operate, even after getting rid of weapons systems. Converting a merchant ship would be less expensive initially and over time. Now you just have to convince the same people who’ve been cutting the Royal Navy for decades to pony up some money.


The LINK, contains a VERY interesting read . . .