Merlin helicopters, Royal Marines and the Royal UK Navy’s ‘floating clinic’ RFA Argus will join the fight to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.
Three Merlins from 820 Naval Air Squadron will join Argus and sail to Sierra Leone to support UK’s growing effort on land to deal with the outbreak of the disease.
After a meeting of the Government’s COBR emergency committee, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron , to discuss the worsening virus crisis in Africa, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the UK armed forces were ramping up their efforts.
The helicopters and auxiliary ship will be used first and foremost to help medical efforts on land, where Britain’s Armed Forces are playing a pivotal role in tackling the crisis.
Mr Fallon said more troops would be dispatched to support engineers, logisticians and planners already on the ground to support the construction of the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Unit, while additional personnel are being sent to support an Ebola training facility run by the World Health Organisation.
With the commitment of the extra resources, more than 750 British Servicemen and women will be involved in the effort to curb the spread of the disease.
Personnel from RNAS Culdrose will be joined on Argus by Royal Marines of 1 Assault Group to provide protection for the ship and the personnel aboard.
Captain Mark Garratt, Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose said: “Culdrose will embark three Merlin Mark 2 helicopters and 80 personnel from 820 Naval Air Squadron as well as a 50 strong cadre of the Maritime Aviation Support Force on-board RFA Argus as she deploys to the West coast of Africa.
“The inherent flexibility of the Merlin, the Navy’s latest Anti-Submarine helicopter, acting in a transport and utility role from afloat, will mean that medical operations ashore can be fully supported.”
“We’ll be embarking Culdrose-based Merlin helicopters and Royal Marine Commandos before heading down to West Africa,” said Capt David Eagles RFA, Argus’ Commanding Officer.
Press Release, October 09, 2014; Image: UK Navy