RFA Argus Arrives in Sierra Leone to Fight Ebola

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary aviation support ship RFA Argus has arrived in Sierra Leone – offloading vital equipment and stores that will aid their government’s fight against Ebola.

Argus left Falmouth on Friday, October 17 and made good progress down the West Coast of Africa to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

She arrived yesterday morning, Thursday, October 30 and immediately began offloading Department for International Development (DFID) equipment and 32 off road vehicles.

On arrival, the vehicles will transport staff, supplies and equipment across the country in support of the Government of Sierra Leone.

Throughout the passage all ship’s company, and embarked military forces, attended mandatory counter-Ebola training and briefing sessions to prepare for the operation ahead.

In addition, more than 20 Army reservists have this week been called up to help run the Kerry Town Treatment Centre for healthcare workers. The reservists – medical professionals who all volunteered specifically for the Ebola operation – will deploy in December.

Working in support of the Government of Sierra Leone and deployed DfID and military personnel, Argus will now play an important logistical role.

Three Merlin Mk2 helicopters, from 820 Naval Air Squadron, will be used to facilitate the rapid movement of British Army medical teams, stores and aid experts deployed to help tackle the Ebola Virus.

Two landing craft vehicle personnel and three rigid hull inflatable boats, from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, will be used for moving stores, equipment and personnel inland along the river network.

The arrival of Argus is the latest deployment in a joint Defence operation to support the UK Aid mission, with around 800 deployed personnel in total. RAF personnel are based at Accra, Ghana, supporting the movement of equipment and personnel, and in Sierra Leone as part of the joint command team which is supporting the international aid effort.

More than 800 local healthcare workers are undergoing training in the Ebola Training Academy where personnel from 5 Medical Regiment, normally based at Catterick, North Yorkshire, are the key component of the training effort. Those healthcare workers will work in community care treatment centres across the country.

Meanwhile Royal Engineers have overseen the construction of five treatment units, which will provide 700 beds and start coming on line by the end of November.

In addition the Kerry Town Treatment Centre is scheduled to become operational in the next few days, with the element of this facility that will provide care to healthcare workers manned by medics from 22 Field Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Letters have been sent this week to call up more than 20 Army reservists to help run the Kerry Town Treatment Centre for healthcare workers.

The reservists – medical professionals who all volunteered specifically for the Ebola operation – will deploy in December and help run the centre until late February 2015, before it is handed over to Save the Children.

This additional deployment follows an agreement to expand the capacity of the centre to treat UK and Sierra Leonean healthcare workers from 12 to 20 beds.

Press release, Image: UK Navy

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