The UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel (RFA) Argus has sailed from Falmouth to Sierra Leone, as part of the country’s efforts to tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
As part of the six-month deployment, the vessel will assist in transporting medical teams and equipment, in addition to supporting experts deployed to help deal with the Ebola epidemic.
It is carrying three Merlin helicopters, Royal Navy personnel and Royal Marines.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "The UK is leading the international fight against Ebola. The deployment of RFA Argus is absolutely key to that effort, not only to help save lives in Sierra Leone but also to help keep Britain safe from this terrible disease.
"I saw for myself when I visited Falmouth on Tuesday the deeply impressive preparations which RFA Argus’s crew have made to tackle the wide range of demanding challenges, which they will have to overcome.
Integrating a 100-bed hospital, the vessel has supplies and 55 vehicles, including landing crafts and force patrol vessels, in addition to approximately 300 military personnel.
Speaking to the Telegraph, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We have to get ahead of this disease, but if we get ahead of it, if we rise to the challenge, we can contain it and beat it.
"We know how to do this, it is not complicated to do, it just requires a large focus of resource and effort to deliver it."
By the end this month, the UK’s overall contribution in Sierra Leone will reach 750 personnel, with treatment centres providing medical care for approximately 8,800 Ebola patients over six months.
Image: RFA Argus leaves Falmouth, UK. Photo: courtesy of Petty Officer Airman Paul A’Barrow, Crown copyright.