The members of the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Marines will deploy to West Africa later this week taking three Merlin helicopters and aircrew and engineers from 820 Naval Air Squadron.
The ship will also be able to facilitate the rapid transport of Army medical teams and aid experts, deployed to help tackle the Ebola virus.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The imminent deployment of RFA Argus is another way in which the British military’s expertise can be used to support the Government of Sierra Leone as together we tackle the spread of this appalling disease.”
The deployment of RFA Argus increases the UK’s contribution to the fight against Ebola which is being coordinated by the Department for International Development.
So far more than 300 military engineers and planners have deployed as part of the UK taskforce, with the first staff arriving in late August.
Focused on delivering support to the Sierra Leone Government, the military teams are working alongside local contractors on the construction of the Ebola Treatment Centres.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “The support of RFA Argus and the three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters will be invaluable as we continue to battle this terrible disease.”
In the coming weeks more than 200 military staff will also be deployed to run and staff the World Health Organisation-led Ebola training facility that will assist in the training of healthcare workers, logisticians and hygiene specialists who are needed to staff the Ebola Treatment Centres.
Defence’s total contribution will amount to 750 personnel. The UK’s treatment centres will provide direct medical care for up to 8,800 Ebola patients over six months.
Captain David Eagles, Commanding Officer of RFA Argus said: “RFA Argus is flexible and can be adapted to transport large amounts of equipment very quickly.
“It therefore makes her the ideal vessel for a mission such as this, where her unique capabilities and experience will see us able to provide much needed supplies and expertise to the people of Sierra Leone.”
Image: POA(Phot) Paul A’Barrow