Project: RFA ARGUS 2009 SLEP

Afloat Support UK MoD | 2009

As part of a major upgrade and life extension RFA Argus was converted to reverse roles with the new primary role of Casualty Receiving ship, with the secondary task of helicopter training vessel. Major equipment upgrades were also undertaken to increase capability and align with future regulations for SOLAS, Sewage Treatment Plants, Fire & Watertight Integrity

The first part of the work was undertaken by A&P in 2006 with the balance being completed in 2009.

This 10 month, £37M project involved A&P in carrying out a major conversion of the vessel including one of the vessel’s two helicopter lifts being removed, a task never previously undertaken on a military vessel. 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, wards and intensive care facilities were also refitted.

During Phase Two, RFA Argus also underwent 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
  • New CT Scanner and new Oxygen Concentrator installed in the PCRF
  • Installation of new Marine Evacuation System

The intensive SLEP during 2009 was successfully completed using 24/7 working within the 10 month duration, including 100 days in drydock and involved the installation of 600 tons of new steel.

In addition to the new structures, many existing systems were upgraded to higher levels of performance to ensure RFA Argus is ‘fit for purpose’ in delivering the unique capabilities that her roles require. She is a casualty facility capable of treating up to 100 service/civilian personnel, an aviation training facility and may carry up to 500 service personnel. Her systems, therefore, have to be able to cope with these diverse and demanding roles.

The completion of the second phase of this vessel’s SLEP ensures the continuance of the vessel’s service life and offers a unique marine support facility.

The project also demonstrates the success of the MOD’s Ship Cluster Owner concept, a ‘Gold Standard’ demonstration of co-operation and trust between Government and Industry.

Commenting on the successful completion of RFA Argus’ SLEP, Commodore (E), David Preston, RFA said: ‘I have followed every stage of this work and I’m delighted to see RFA Argus back at sea. This conversion was an enormous achievement. I would like to thank everyone involved in completing this project on time and to budget and wish RFA Argus a fair wind and following seas as she engages in her new role.’

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RFA Argus - Bridge

RFA Argus - Hangar

RFA Argus - Dock

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