21 Dec 2020

RFA Argus arrived back to Falmouth at the weekend, after helping to stop more than £400m of drugs reaching Britain’s streets on operations in the Caribbean.

The support ship departed eight months ago to support the region’s British Overseas Territories during hurricane season and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to carry out counter-narcotics operations alongside HMS Medway.

Now berthed alongside A&P Falmouth’s Duchy Wharf, the 28,000 tonne vessel returned triumphant having seized 5,373kg of cocaine and 28kg of amphetamines in eight separate drugs busts.

The vessel will now undergo a comprehensive docking period, which will begin officially in early 2021.

A&P Falmouth is widely recognised as a centre of excellence for through-life support, thanks to a ten year In-Service Support contract with the MoD to provide global maintenance support to the Bay Class vessels - RFA Mounts Bay, RFA Cardigan Bay and RFA Lyme Bay as well as RFA Argus and Ocean Survey Vessel HMS Scott.

Working closely with the Ministry of Defence, A&P Falmouth will carry out a major package of upkeep work including maintenance to RFA Argus’ propulsion systems and auxiliary machinery; classification surveys of machinery, hull and safety equipment; a number of high-profile capability upgrades as well as a full hull super structure and flight deck preparation and paint programme.

RFA Argus’ stay in Falmouth will make a significant contribution to the local economy and marine sector and involve more than 200 A&P personnel, including apprentices and a number of specialist subcontractors.

Gerald Pitts, Managing Director of A&P Defence said: “We have supported RFA Argus for more than 12 years and have amassed a unique understanding of the RFA’s requirements and the need for efficiency gains, cost savings and the highest levels of vessel availability during that time.

“We’re thrilled to welcome RFA Argus back to Falmouth after supporting her during her operations in the Caribbean. We will now undertake a comprehensive maintenance and repair programme to ensure she can continue her vital humanitarian and law enforcement work.”

Speaking about RFA Argus’ recent operations in the Caribbean, First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, said: “I am extremely proud of what RFA Argus has achieved during her deployment. Protecting our overseas territories is a key part of the Royal Navy’s role in defending the UK’s interests worldwide. From countering drug smugglers to delivering humanitarian aid, Argus has proven just how versatile the Royal Navy is, and how valuable our continued forward presence remains.”

Argus has most recently been involved in disaster relief operations in Honduras following the devastation of Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Twenty-four tonnes of food, fresh water and shelters in 101 underslung loads were flown into aid stations from Argus by the Commando Merlin helicopters of 845 Naval Air Squadron.