Reproduced with permission of the MOD 


RFA Argus
Lower image RFA Argus entering Portsmouth Harbour 9 July 2010
©  Brian Burnell



RFA Argus profile


Previous name:                 Contender Bezant
Subsequent name:                                                                          

Official Number:                384837

Class:                             Aviation Support and Primary Casualty Reception Ship

Pennant No:                     A135

Laid down:
Builder:                            Breda, Marghera
Launched:                        28 November 1980

Into Service:                     1 June 1988

Crew number:                    68
Out of service:


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   The only ship in this Class. Was originally built as a container ship for commercial owners and was requisitioned for service during the Falklands Conflict in 1982. She was subsequently purchased and converted for her new role as an aviation support ship. After extensive trials she entered service and replaced the smaller RFA ENGADINE. During the 1990 Gulf War she took on a further role when she was fitted out as a PCRS with a 100-bed emergency medical facility. During 2000/2001 she underwent a major refit of her permanent hospital facilities which were then based over three decks. At one stage it was mooted that her sister CONTENDER ARGENT was to be similarly converted, but this never came to fruition.


28 November 1980 launched by Cantieri Navali Breda S.A, Marghera Yard, Venice as Yard Nr: 293 named CONTENDER BEZANT for Contender 2 Ltd (Sea Containers Ltd, Managers) Hamilton, Bermuda. The Lady Sponsor was Mrs Nigel J Tatham

31 July 1981 completed as a 1108 TEU capacity container ship

May 1982 requisitioned for service during Operation Corporate - the Falklands Conflict - and was sent to Devonport for conversion into an auxiliary aircraft carrier

Cont Bezant Corporate

mv Contender Bezant during Operation Corporate


20 May 1982 sailed Devonport for the South Atlantic

6 June 1982 sailed Charleston, South Carolina enroute to the Falkland Islands

19 June 1982 in Port William, Falkland Islands with HMS DUMBARTON CASTLE berthed alongside to receive stores 

November 1982 returned to her owners after a refit to return her to her original role

1 March 1984 purchased for £18m by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast for conversion into an aviation training ship for resale to the MoD (N)

29 March 1984 arrived Belfast to begin her conversion

25 March 1987 formally renamed ARGUS at Belfast by Mrs Pamela Blelloch, the wife of the Second Permanent Under Secretary of State for Defence

28 October 1987 initial sea trials

3 March 1988 conversion completed at a cost of £45m

18 March 1988 formally accepted by the MoD (N) to carry out extensive trials

1 June 1988 Service of Dedication and entered service as an aviation training ship to replace RFA ENGADINE

31 August 1988 Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA appointed as Master

Captain Shane Redmond OBE crop

Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA

16 December 1988 at Portsmouth

24 January 1989 at Portsmouth

23 May 1989 at Portsmouth

26 June 1989 humanitarian aid - rescued a man lost overboard from the Russian tanker APIE 120 miles east of Madeira

7 July 1989 at Falmouth

17 July 1989 at Middlesborough

2 October 1990 allocated for conversion to the role of a Casualty Evacuation Ship following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

16 October 1990 at Plymouth

29 October 1990 sailed Devonport to act as a Primary Casualty Evacuation Ship during Operation Granby - the Gulf War, but suffered a steering gear failure off the French coast

30 October 1990 returned to Devonport for repairs by DML

31 October 1990 finally sailed Devonport for the Gulf with 4 x sand coloured Seaking helicopters from C and D Flights 846 NAS

30 November 1990 was visited by C-in-C Fleet in the Gulf Area

23 January 1991 her embarked helicopters were reported to be conducting mine search operations

18 February 1991 in the vicinity of the D'horra Oilfield in the Northern Persian Gulf received three causualties from USS Princeton (CG59) after the warship had been mined

4 March 1991 was visited by the Chief of the Defence Staff

11 April 1991 Official Cease Fire comes into force

20 April 1991 to 15 July 1991 Humanitarian relief - served on Operation Haven - humanitarian support to Kurdish refugees in the Turkey/Iraq frontier area - along with RFA RESOURCE

7 July 1991 Steward S N Brown discharged dead

1991 was awarded the Kuwait 1991 Battle Honour along with 10 other RFA’s

20 June 1992 at Portsmouth

10 August 1992 Captain Anthony Pitt DSC RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

October to December 1992 Supported Operation Grapple - sailed to the Adriatic with 4 x Seaking helicopters embarked to support British elements of the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia - along with RFA’s SIR BEDIVERE and RESOURCE

6 November 1992 at Portsmouth

7 January 1993 at Portsmouth

15 June 1993 at Portsmouth

14 July 1993 Captain Anthony Pitt DSC RFA appointed as Commanding Officer



Captain Anthony Pitt DSC RFA


 20 October 1993 at Devonport and Captain Alan T Roach RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Capt allan roach

Captain Alan T Roach RFA

11 December 1993 at Portsmouth

11 January 1994 suffered a fire in her Forward Auxiliary Machinery Space while berthed at Portland

2 February 1994 at Devonport

19 February 1994 at Devonport

11 March 1994 at Devonport

6 April 1994 became only the second RFA to fire 105 mm guns of the Royal Artillery from her Flight Deck while in the Ionian Sea. Seven rounds of 105 mm high explosive were fired from six guns The other firing had been aboard RFA SIR PERCIVALE and the first firing on each occasion was performed by the same Commanding Officer

Argus fires guns

3 September 1994 Humanitarian aid - rescued a family from their yacht which had struck rocks whilst on passage from Brittany to Milford Haven

14 June 1995 berthed at Portsmouth

24 July 1995 berthed at Gibraltar

30 October 1995 berthed at Hebburn on Tyne

4 January 1996 berthed at Hebburn on Tyne

15 April 1996 sailed from Portland to take part in Exercise Purple Star.

ARGUS at Norfolk VA USA alongside 1996

RFA Argus alongside at Norfolk, Virginia

11 June 1996 berthed at Portsmouth

2 June 1997 to 10 June 1997 was off west Africa as a contingency covering Operation Tillerin Sierra Leone and at short notice for the possible evacuation of British nationals from the Congo

2 February 1998 three RN helicopters from RN Air Station Culdrose and deployed on Argus rescused 12 members of the crew of  a Spanish container ship mv Delfin Meditteraneo and one body when the ship sank 100 miles off Maderia in the North Atlantic when its containers had shifted in heavy seas in heavy weather. Three of the helicopters crews were later awarded the Air Force Cross, six received Queen's Commendations for Bravery in the Air and one received a Commander in Chief's Commendation

27 November 1998 berthed at Southampton

19 March 1999 berthed at Portsmouth

8 - 9 May 2000 Naval Airman Phil Bonnamy reported as missing over the side while the ship was involved in exercises in the North Atlantic off Lisbon

August 2000 Captain M T (George) Jarvis RFA in command

11 August 2000 berthed at Falmouth

3 August 2000 at Portland

30 August 2000 off Mounts Bay

12 November 2000 part of the Amphibious Ready Force led by the assault ship HMS OCEAN which arrived off Sierra Leone on Operation Silkman - a high visibility demonstration of the U.K. commitment to Sierra Leone - along with RFA’s FORT AUSTIN, SIR BEDIVERE and SIR TRISTRAM

29 November 2000 Captain (E) Robert Settle RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

30 November 2000 at Plymouth

2 July 2001 Captain William Walworth RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

24 August 2001 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

27 September 2001 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

12 October 2001 berthed at Devonport Dockyard

2 November 2001 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

24 November 2001 to 26 November 2001 berthed at Vigo, Spain

29 November 2001 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

14 December 2001 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

9 January 2002 berthed at Devonport Dockyard

15 February 2002 to 18 February 2002 berthed at La Coruna, Spain

21 February 2002 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

19 April 2002 to 22 April 2002 berthed at La Coruna, Spain

26 April 2002 in Plymouth Sound

3 May 2002 berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard

10 May 2002 in Plymouth Sound

23 May 2002 to 26 May 2002 berthed at Valencia, Spain

27 June 2002 berthed at Devonport Dockyard

16 October 2002 berthed at Devonport Dockyard

8 November 2002 berthed at Devonport Dockyard

13 November 2002 as a Sea King Helicopter from 848 Naval Air Squadron was taking off from the ship in Lyme Bay the helicopter struck part of the ship and crashed. The crew managed to escape unhurt from the aircraft but three deck hands were injured and airlifted by a Coastguard helicopter to hospital .The three men, one seriously injured and the other two with minor injuries, were taken to the Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester .The serious casualty was transferred to the Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire

15 January 2003 to 28 May 2003 deployed for Operation Telic - the 2nd Gulf War - along with 13 other RFA’s and  had 2 x Sea King helicopters from 820 NAS embarked

28 January 2003 Captain (E) Robert J Smith RFA appointed Chief Engineer Officer

20 May 2003 to 24 May 2003 berthed at Gibraltar

28 May 2003 returned to Plymouth on completion of Operation Telic duties with 4 x RAF Puma’s and 1 x RN Lynx helicopters

17 June 2003 alongside at Southampton

23 July 2003 represented the RFA at the presentation by the Queen of New Colours to the RN aboard the LPD HMS OCEAN in Plymouth Sound along with RFA’s SIR BEDIVERE and WAVE KNIGHT (2)

2 December 2003 at Falmouth during a refit in A & P's ship yard a fire broke out in the boiler room. Fire applicances from Falmouth, Redruth and Truro attended and quickly extinguished the blaze. No one was injured

19 December 2003 Captain Peter Farmer RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

4 February 2004 berthed alongside at Devonport

11 May 2004 berthed at Falmouth

18 May 2004 at Falmouth a 22 year old crew member was seen by Police outside a night club. On seeing Police he decampted and jumped into the harbour off Prince of Wales pier. He was found later hiding soaking wet in a yatch

23 July 2004 berthed at Falmouth for an AMP

26 August 2004 sailed Falmouth

7 October 2004 arrived on scene to the west of Ireland to assist in supporting helicopters assisting the Canadian submarine HMCS CHICOUTIMI which had suffered a fire on 05/10. Also assisting was given by RFA WAVE KNIGHT (2)

19 October 2004 berthed alongside at Devonport

6 January 2005 berthed at Falmouth for an AMP

2 February 2005 at Falmouth Docks fifty children and their teachers from Troon, Cornwall visited the ship

5 February 2005 sailed from Falmouth for Devonport 

24 March 2005 Captain Shaun Jones RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Shaun Jones

Captain Shaun Jones RFA

3 May 2005 at Plymouth Sound

19 & 20 May 2005 berthed alongside at Lisbon

25 May 2005 Captain S Cant RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

28 June 2005 took part in the International Fleet Review for Trafalgar 200 at Spithead along with  RFA’s FORT GEORGE, FORT VICTORIA, ORANGELEAF(3), SIR BEDIVERE, SIR GALAHAD (2), SIR TRISTRAM and WAVE RULER (2)

2005/6 undertook a 10 month refit at Falmouth costing £37M pounds including carrying out a major conversion of the vessel including one of the vessel’s two helicopter lifts being removed. This area was then modified with 300 tons of fabricated steel, building an extension of the PCRF with new access, two casualty lifts and hospital refit and upgrade, including new CT Scanner, new reception area and, to increase capacity, with wards and intensive care facilities also being refitted.

1 June 2006 berthed at Nassau, Bahamas

4 June 2006 berthed at Mayport, Florida

27 June 2006 berthed alongside at Devonport

RFA ARGUS F25 Cocktail P Invite

23 September 2007 sailed Portsmouth

11 June 2008 berthed at Abu Dhabi

13 July 2008 HMS CHATHAM, HMS MONTROSE, and HMS EDINBURGH supported by RFA ARGUS seized 23 tonnes of narcotics in the Gulf region

9 August 2008 berthed at Gibraltar

14 August 2008 sailed Gibraltar for the UK

17 October 2008 berthed at Glen Mallen. Captain Paul S Whyte MBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

18 October 2008 alongside at Loch Long, Clyde

1 November 2008 berthed at Devonport

3 January 2009 at Plymouth and Captain Paul Kehoe RFA appointed as Commanding Officer



Captain Paul Kehoe RFA  

21 January 2009 entered a SLEP refit at Falmouth - undergoing a number of major structural modifications, including:

  • fitting of a new bulkhead in the forward auxiliary machinery space and re-routing of the system
  • installation of new casualty ramps and lifts
  • fitting of four new hangar watertight doors, accounting for approximately 20 tons of steel per door
  • structural bridge extension including new windows and equipment moves

Other major work included:

  • extensive hull, hangar and flight deck paint package
  • complete strip-out, refurbishment and upgrade of all ship crew and embarked military forces accommodation and communal areas along with fitting of a complete new galley of improved design and layout
  • major ship electrical work replacing switchboards and upgrading fire safety systems
  • upgrade and installation of communications and weapons systems
  • overhaul of main engine machinery, and overhaul and refurbishment of the remaining aircraft lift
  • all refrigeration and air conditioning plant changed to comply with the Montreal Protocol
  • a new CT Scanner and a new Oxygen Concentrator installed in the PCRF
  • installation of new Marine Evacuation System

23 January 2009 moved from Dutchy Wharf, Falmouth to No: 2 dry dock

4 May 2009 firefighters with breathing sets called to a fire in the lower decks of RFA Argus when the ship was in refit at Falmouth. No reported injuries

27 June 2009 moved from No: 2 dry dock, Falmouth to Dutchy Wharf

11 September 2009 moved from Carrick Roads to Falmouth Bay

28 September 2009 Captain (X) Stephen P Donkersley RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

10 October 2009 at Falmouth a fire was discovered in the ship on a switchboard. All on board were evacuated and fire applicances from Falmouth, Truro, Redruth and Camborne attended. The fire was extinguished after some one and a half hours. No injuries were sustained

1 November 2009 alongside at Falmouth

6 November 2009 sailed Dutchy Wharf, Falmouth to sea for trials returning to port later the same day

January 2010 RFA's ARGUS, LYME BAY, WAVE KNIGHT (2) and WAVE RULER (2) together with RN units have been honoured by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for their work to repress piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden at the 26th Session of the IMO

31 January 2010 at Portland Harbour

28 February 2010 entered dry dock at Falmouth

5 April 2010 sailed Falmouth

22 April 2010 in dry dock on the River Tyne

24 April 2010 on the River Tyne

4 June 2010 entered Toulon Harbour, France - sailed 5 June 2010 for Gibraltar

30 June 2010 anchored outside of Plymouth Breakwater

9 July 2010 entered Portsmouth Harbour

30 July/1 August 2010 open to the public at Portsmouth Navy Days

6 August 2010 entered Portsmouth Harbour

11 August 2010 Deputy Commander in Chief Fleet, Vice Admiral Richard Ibbotson CB DSC visited the ship alongside in Portsmouth Naval Base

12 August 2010 150 Sea, Army, Air and Combined Cadet Force cadets from all over the UK sailed Portsmouth bound for Dartmouth in Devon. The cadets are all working towards their Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award

15 August 2010 berthed Leith Docks for a 11 day visit to Edinburgh

8 September 2010 Maritime Aviation Support Force (MASF) was formally commissioned on board alongside in Falmouth Docks

10 September 2010 sailed Falmouth

29 September 2010 arrived at Falmouth

17 October 2010 sailed Falmouth

27 October 2010 at Falmouth flooded out of No: 2 dry dock

February 2011 at Portland conducting Merlin helicopter flying trials with 824 Naval Air Squadron (NAS)

March 2011 deployed to be ready to assist with the rescue of British nationals from civil war in Libya - off the Liybian coast for 10 days then sailed to Cyprus to load stores and provisions.824 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) relieved by 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS). In addition members of B Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines joined the ship.

March/April  2011 tasked to conduct counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden

6 June 2011 Gulf of Aden - a RN Merlin HM MK 1 helicopter carrying a medically evacuated sailor from the German-flagged motor vessel Baltic Island lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). The sailor was initially transported from Baltic Island to the Republic of Korea navy destroyer ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sun-Shin (DDH 975) before being moved to the Argus. After being evaluated aboard Argus he was transferred to Enterprise for advanced treatment

25 June 2011 berthed at Gibraltar

29 June 2011 sailed Gibraltar for Falmouth

15 August 2011 at Falmouth and Captain Gerard A Patterson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

25 October 2011 berthed at Portland

7 November 2011 the Royal Navy's new Wildcat Helicopter touched down on the flight deck of the RFA aviation trials ship Argus off England's south coast, at the start of four weeks of tough trials for air and ground crew. The Wildcat is the 21st century variant of the Lynx helicopter which has served the Navy since the 1970s.




26 January 2012 at Portland

16 February 2012 at Loch Striven

24 March 2012 berth at Portsmouth after exercises in the Channel

28 March 2012 eight miles south of Portland Bill the skipper of the yatch Kato fell and broke his shoulder. He sent two emergency flares upwards. He was rescued by the ships rigid boat and landed ashore by helicopter The yacht was taken in tow by the RNLI lifeboat into Weymouth

1 April 2012 berthed at Falmouth

27 April 2012 sailed County Wharf, Falmouth to sea

12 May 2012 sailed Falmouth

23 May 2012 arrived at New York

6 June 2012 at Norfolk, Virginia

13 June 2012 at Baltimore

16 June 2012 Captain Gerard A Patterson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer and at Patterson Park, Baltimore the ships football team played a match against a football team from USS Donald Cook (DDG75). RFA Argus's team won 3 -1


Band onboard Argus

Royal Marine Band on RFA Argus at Baltimore, USA

29 June 2012 to 5 July 2012 at Boston, MA

8 July 2012 berthed at Kings Wharf, Bermuda with RFA FORT ROSALIE (2)

10 July 2012 sailed from Kings Wharf, Bermuda

13 July 2012 berthed at Freeport, Bahamas

2 August 2012 sailed Freeport, Bahamas

7 August 2012 berthed alongside at the Container Terminal, Kingston, Jamaica

8 August 2012 sailed Kingston Jamaica to sea

29 August 2012 berthed at Port of Spain, Trinidad

3 September 2012 sailed Port of Spain, Trinidad

5 September 2012 to 7 September 2012 at Monserrat

28 September 2012 to 1 October 2012 at Martinique

Argus of Martinique 2012

RFA Argus entering Martinique

10 October 2012 at Guantanamo Bay

15 October 2012 sailed past Brazian Navy ship Greenhalgh (the former HMS BROADSWORD)

16 October 2012 berthed at Freeport, Bahamas

3 November 2012 sailed from St Johns, Antigua

Argus rememberance day ser 2012

11 November 2012 at sea a Rememberance Day Service was held

22 November 2012 berthed at Kingston, Jamaica and landed 200 shelter kits for 73 schools across the 9 parishes on the island which had been affected by Hurricane Sandy on 24 October 2012

27 November 2012 to 3 December 2012 berthed at Barbados to take part in the islands 46th year celebration of independence from the UK

19 December 2012 at Portland

3 January 2013 sailed Portland

4 January 2013 arrived at Plymouth

18 January 2013 arrived at Famouth for refit which commenced on 21 January 2013 and included upgrading lifeboats and davits, overhaul of the main engines, installation of an incinerator and shredder, new engine control systems, refurbishment of the ship’s hospital and a five-year paint and preservation package. The refit included the instalation of Philips Ingenuity CT 64 scanner in the ship's hospital which provides low-dose, high-quality imaging, with excellent 4cm coverage and also the ability to personalise image quality, patient-by-patient.

28 February 2013 fire fighters from Falmouth, Truro and Redruth were called to the ship which was refitting at Falmouth to a fire in the engine room. The fire had been extinguished prior to their arrival

21 June 2013 a US film entitled "World War Z" released in the UK which parts were filmed on RFA Argus and in which the ship purports to be the USS Madison

Argus Scene 1

 Argus Scene 3

 RFA Argus purporting to be USS Madison 

30 June 2013 sailed Falmouth after refit

1 July 2013 arrived at Plymouth

12 July 2013 sailed Devonport

15 July 2013 arrived at Portland

27 July 2013 at Falmouth

14 August 2013 alongside at Falmouth

9 October 2013 sailed Portland

15 October 2013 arrived at Portland

29 October 2013 sailed Portland

31 October 2013 berthed at Portland

7 November 2013 Captain (X) David J Buck RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain David Buck

Captain (X) David J Buck RFA

12 November 2013 sailed Portland

26 November 2013 sailed Falmouth

14 February 2014 berthed at Portland

18 February 2014 sailed Portland

25 March 2014 sailed Portland

16 April 2014 sailed Falmouth

25 April 2014 berthed at Falmouth

19 May 2014 sailed Falmouth

29 May 2014 berthed at Portland

3 June 2014 sailed Portland

9 June 2014 sailed Portland

13 June 2014 arrived at Portland

14 June 2014 Captain David A Eagles RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Capt David Eagles

Captain David A Eagles RFA

17 June 2014 sailed Portland

20 June 2014 arrived at Portland

23 June 2014 sailed Portland

4 July 2014 berthed at Brest, France with 702 NAS embarked for a 3 week Operation Conversion Phase (OCP) package

5 July 2014 Captain David Eagles RFA with other members of the ship's company layed a wreath on the Mers-El-Kebir memorial which commemorates the attack on the French Fleet at Mers-El-Kebir during which 1,297 French servicemen were lost

Argus and Mers el Kebir Memorial

Hosted by Monsieur Herve Grall, President of the Mers-EL-Kebir Association and Commander Marc Rollet, Marine Nationale Liaison Officer. Those in uniform in the image above are - right to left - Cdr Marc Rollett, CPO (AH) Nigel Bickley, Captain David Eagles RFA, AET Richard York and MASS Steven Robertson

6 July 2014 sailed Brest, France. Chief Officer (E) Nicholas S P Pilling RFA appointed as Acting Captain (E) and as Chief Engineer Officer

11 July 2014 berthed at Portland

14 July 2014 sailed Portland

26 July 2014 moored at Falmouth

18 August 2014 sailed Falmouth

23 August 2014 berthed at Portland

26 August 2014 sailed Portland

29 August 2014 anchored off Bournemouth

23 September 2014 berthed at Falmouth

3 October 2014 sailed Falmouth

8 October 2014 the Ministry of Defence announced in a statement to-day that RFA ARGUS would deploy to Sierra Leone next week as a forward base for Army medics and with three Merlin Helicopters with aircrew and engineers from 820 Squadron NAS to facilitate the rapid movement of key personel to areas where they are required

11 October 2014 berthed at Falmouth

Argus at Falmouth

RFA Argus at Falmouth
courtesy of the Daily Mail

17 October 2014 sailed Falmouth for Operation Gritrock


RFA Argus sails from Falmouth
courtesy of the Falmouth Packet

21 October 2014 berthed at Gibraltar and loaded thirty off-road vehicles from Toyota Gibraltar Stockholders. The ship then sailed from Gibraltar

RFA Argus Gib 4

RFA Argus Gib 2 2

RFA Argus Gibraltar 1

 RFA ARGUS GIBRALTAR - 21.10.2014 -

RFA Argus loading vehicles at Gibraltar
all four images immediately above © MOD
30 October 2014 berthed at Freetown, Sierra Leone to discharge cargo and engagement in Operation Herring
Argus off Freetown
RFA Argus off Freetown
ARGUS alongside at Freetown
RFA Argus alongside in Freetown Harbour


28 November 2014 Captain (X) David J Buck RFA appointed as Commanding Officer
22 December 2014 the ship won the Fleet Effectiveness Trophy 2014 for RFA's
23 December 2014 the ship's crew and the embedded military personel raised money for charity by rowing the distance from Falmouth to Freetown in the ships gym on rowing machines. Money raised will be passed to EducAid to help setting up two centres in Sierra Leone for the orphans of Ebola
February 2015 Royal Navy nurses Chief Petty Officer Mark 'Robbie' Robinson and Petty Officer Mark Bailey set up a volunteer emergency blood donor panel onboard the ship off the West Coast of Africa.
Argus Blood letting 2015
Pride of Plymouth 2015 - RFA Argus finalists
© Plymouth Herald
The panel was established in preparation for Apheresis at Sea; apheresis being the process of removing whole blood from a donor, separating the blood into its individual components so that one of them – in this case the platelets – can be removed.The rest of the blood is then given back to the donor while the platelets are stored on the ship with some also flown to the Kerry Town Treatment Unit near Freetown. Both nurses previously performed the procedure in Afghanistan, but this is the first time that blood products had ever been donated on an operational service ship. Platelets are essential for patients to be able to form blood clots and prevent uncontrolled bleeding in trauma cases
3 March 2015 Captain (E) David B Smith RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer
9 March 2015 Captain (X) David J Buck RFA appointed as Commanding Officer
Dave Buck
Captain (X) David J Buck RFA
26 March 2015 His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone
Ernest Bai Koroma February 2015
His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma,
President of Sierra Leone
visited the ship to thank the Commanding Officer, crew and embedded military personel for their work during Operation Herring
27 March 2015 sailed Freetown, Sierra Leone. The ship has been awarded an Admiralty Board Letter of Commendation for her service - the wording of the Commendation was -

"During her deployment to Sierra Leone Argus has made a significant contribution to the UK's effort to halt the spread of Ebola.

She has helped to establish the crucial medical treatment centres and has provided vital transport capability allowing medical workers to reach the areas most affected by the disease and by providing medical reassurance to the British personnel deployed to the region.

As the chairman of the Admiralty Board it gives me great pleasure to award RFA Argus with a Letter of Commendation, recognising her overall contribution to defence over her 33 years' service.

From delivering helicopters and Harrier jets to the Falklands conflict in 1982, to acting as a casualty receiving ship in the first Gulf War in 1991 and Adriatic in 1993, Argus has made her mark in a significant way."

Michael Fallon - Defence Secretary

31 March 2015 passing Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
5 April 2015 anchored off Porthleven, Cornwall
7 April 2015 berthed at Falmouth
Argus returns from Ebola
RFA Argus returns to Falmouth from the Ebola deployment
1 May 2015 Captain David A Eagles RFA appointed as Commanding Officer
16 May 2015 the whole crew awarded the James Coull Memorial Award for their work during Operation Herring
11 June 2015 H M The Queen approved the 'The Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa'. Of the 2,448 medals awarded 167 were to the crew of RFA Argus
Ebola Medal
The Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa

15 June 2015 at Portsmouth

24 July 2015 at Falmouth

18 August 2015 sailed from Falmouth

19 August 2015 anchored off Bournemouth

26 August 2015 berthed at Portland

7 September 2015 sailed Portland and berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard later the same day

10 September 2015 at Portsmouth on board RFA Argus HRH the Earl of Wessex, Commodore in Chief of the RFA  presented seven RFA Long Service Medals and four clasps for 30 years service to RFA crew members

12 September 2015 Captain Karl R Woodfield RFA appointed as Commanding Officer and sailed Portsmouth for Portland

14 September 2015 sailed Portland

26 September 2015 berthed at Gotto Wharf, Belfast

5 October 2015 sailed Belfast

9 October 2015 arrived at Plymouth Sound

31 October 2015 sailed from Plymouth Sound

2 November 2015 berthed at Falmouth

4 January 2016 Captain (E) Nicholas S P Pilling RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

5 February 2016 Captain (X) David A Eagles RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

9 February 2016 at Falmouth alongside Duchy Wharf during Storm Imogen with the tugs Morgawr and Ankorva keeping her at her berth for 22 hours

5 March 2016 sailed Falmouth

11 April 2016 arrived at Plymouth

15 April 2016 Captain (X) Gerard A Patterson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

2 May 1916 Captain (X) Jeremy A Maccanley RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

3 May 2016 sailed Plymouth Sound

5 May 2016 arrived at Plymouth Sound

20 May 2016 sailed Plymouth and berthed at Falmouth later the same evening

24 May 2016 Captain (E) Maurice O Ambrose RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

8 June 2016 sailed Falmouth

12 June 2016 arrived at Plymouth

15 June 2016 sailed Plymouth berthing at Portland later the same day

19 June 2016 sailed Portland arriving at Plymouth later the same day

20 June 2016 sailed Plymouth returning to Plymouth Sound later the same day

19 July 2016 at Plymouth

25 July 2016 Captain (X) Karl R Woodfield RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

16 August 2016 sailed Plymouth

22 August 2016 berthed at Falmouth

9 September 2016 youngsters suffering from poor eyesight in Nicaragua show their thanks to the sailors of aviation training ship/floating medical facility RFA Argus

Argus Nicaragua reading glasses sept 2016

Some 40 crew from the Falmouth-based ship dipped into their pockets to pull names out of a hat during a Euro 2016 sweepstake, with the proceeds going to Global Brigades Nicaragua to buy reading glasses for children in rural communities with eyesight problems

25 September 2016 sailed from Falmouth

29 September 2016 at Portland

3 October 2016 berthed on Yonderberry Pier

7 October 2016 sailed from Yonderberry Pier to Plymouth Sound

10 October 2016 sailed from 'C' Buoy, Plymouth Sound to sea

17 October 2016 arrived at  Plymouth Sound from sea sailing again later the same day

20 October 2016 arrived at  Plymouth Sound from sea sailing again later the same day

21 October 2016 arrived at Plymouth Sound and made fast to 'C' Buoy

24 October 2016 sailed Plymouth Sound

28 October 2016 arrived at Plymouth Sound and made fast to 'C' Buoy

1 November 2016 arrived at Plymouth

3 November 2016 arrived at Plymouth

4 November 2016 sailed Plymouth arriving at Portland Harbour the same day

6 November 2016 Captain (X) Karl R Woodfield RFA appointed as Commanding Officer and Captain (E) Paul A Jenkins RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

7 November 2016 sailed Portland Harbour

14 November 2016 sailed Portland Harbour

28 November 2016 berthed at Portland Harbour

5 December 2016 sailed Portland Harbour

6 December 2016 in the House of Lords to a question by Lord West the Earl Howe advised in a written reply that according to current plans, the out of service date for RFA ARGUS is 2024. The consideration of options to deliver the capability provided by ARGUS remains on-going

9 December 2016 berthed at Portland Harbour

12 December 2016 sailed Portland Harbour

24 December 2016 berthed at Falmouth

27 December 2016 Captain (X) Peter N Selby RFA appointed as Commanding Officer and Captain (E) Brian A King RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 February 2017 arrived off Dunkirk

5 February 2017 berthed at Portland Harbour

8 February 2017 sailed Portland Harbour

10 February 2017 berthed at Portland Harbour

13 February 2017 sailed from Portland Harbour

24 February 2017 berthed at Portland Harbour

27 February 2017 sailed from Portland Harbour

3 March 2017 arrived at Plymouth

7 March 2017 sailed Plymouth

10 March 2017 berthed at Falmouth

13 March 2017 sailed Falmouth

8 April 2017 berthed at Falmouth

11 April 2017 sailed Falmouth

18 April 2017 berthed at Lisbon

ARGUS alongside at Lisbon

RFA Argus berthed alongside at Lisbon


20 April 2017 sailed from Lisbon

28 April 2017 berthed at Falmouth

9 May 2017 sailed from Falmouth

12 May 2017 berthed at Den Helder, Netherlands

15 May 2017 sailed Den Helder, Netherlands

19 May 2017 berthed at Falmouth

17 June 2017 Captain (X) Nigel A Budd RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

21 June 2017 sailed from Falmouth to Falmouth Anchorage

23 June 2017 sailed Falmouth Anchorage

24 June 2017 berthed at Greenwich, River Thames

Argus passing thru Thames Barrier

RFA Argus passing through the Thames Barrier
© On the acknowledged (upper image)
Argus at Greenwich

RFA Argus at sunset at Greenwich 


26 June 2017  one hundred Sea Cadets from London, Kent and Essex visited the ship while berthed at Greenwich at the start of Seafarers Awareness Week

 RFA Argus firefighting demo

Sea Cadets involved in Fire Fighting Practice on RFA Argus 
28 June 2017 sailed Greenwich
29 June 2017 berthed at Portland
5 July 2017 sailed Portland
6 July 2017 berthed at Portland
12 July 2017 sailed Portland
24 July 2017 arrived at Plymouth
27 July 2017 sailed Plymouth
4 August 2017 berthed at Portland
7 August 2017 Captain (X) Nigel A Budd RFA appointed as Commanding Officer
10 August 2017 sailed Portland
11 August 2017 berthed at Portland
16 August 2017 sailed Portland
18 August 2017 berthed at Portland
21 August 2017 sailed Portland
25 August 2017 berthed at Portland
30 August 2017 sailed Portland
31 August 2017 to 3 September 2017 deployed as 'guard ship' for the Bournemouth Air Festival
3 September 2017 berthed at Portland
5 September 2017 sailed Portland
9 September 2017 berthed at Portland
16 September 2017 Captain (X) Angus D Bissell RFA appointed as Commanding Officer
20 September 2017 sailed Portland
9 October 2017 berthed at Portland
14 October 2017 berthed at Falmouth
15 October 2017 Captain (E) Ian Cairns RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer
7 November 2017 sailed Falmouth
17 November 2017 sailed Leixoes, Portugal
20 November 2017 berthed at Portland
26 November 2017 Captain (X) Nigel A Budd RFA appointed as Commanding Officer
10 January 2018 sailed Falmouth
11 January 2018 berthed at Devonport
24 January 2018 Captain (X) Gerard A Patterson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Ships of the same name


Argus. A Sloop of 10 guns and 326 bm, she was a French Privateer of 103 x 27 feet, captured in 1799.  The ship was broken up in April 1811.

Battle Honours for this vessel: GROIX ISLAND 1795

Argus. Brig-sloop of 18 guns, launched by Hill of Sandwichon the 11 September 1813 as a “Cruizer” class Sloop.  Sold on the 11 July 1827 ,but the sale was cancelled, she was re-sold on the 26 March 1828 to a Mr Ledger. 

Argus. A 5th Rate of 36 guns to be  built by Sheerness Dockyard, she was ordered in 1812 and cancelled the same year. 

Argus. A sloop of 480 bm and 18 guns, she was laid down by Portsmouth Dockyard in March 1831 and cancelled in June 1831. 

Argus. A Wood Paddle Sloop of 981 bm, launched by Portsmouth Dockyard on the 15 December 1849, 190 x 33 feet.  Broken up in October 1881.

Battle Honours for this Vessel: ASHANTEE 1873-74 

Argus. A Coastguard vessel of 357 tons, 136 x 22 feet, launched by Green of Blackwell in 1851.  The ship was armed with 2 x 32 pdr guns, she was re-named ‘Amelia’ on the 16 April 1872 and then ‘Fanny’ in April 1889.  The ship was hulked in 1899, before being transferred to Boom Defence Duties in 1902.  She was sold for breaking up in 1907. 

Argus. A Coastguard vessel of 380 tons, 130 x 23 ft launched by Bow McLachlan on the 6 December 1904, she was armed with 2 x 6 pdr.  Renamed ‘Argon’ in 1918 and sold out of service in February 1920. 

Argus. Ex ‘Conte Rosso’ purchased in August 1916 and renamed ‘Argus’, she was converted to an Aircraft Carrier of 14,150 tons, 505 x 68 feet armed with 4 x 4 inch guns and 20 aircraft by Beardmores in December 1917.  The ship was reduced to harbour service in December 1944 and sold on the 5 December 1946 for breaking up at Ward’s Inverkeithing.

Battle Honours for this Vessel: ARCTIC 1941, ATLANTIC 1941-42, MALTA CONVOYS 1942, NORTH AFRICA 1942.


Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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