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UPDATE: Cornish Crews Join Ebola Battle
5:17pm 14th October 2014
(Updated 5:17pm 14th October 2014)
From Falmouth to West Africa: Cornish crews prepare to travel to the frontline of the battle with ebola.
Pirate FM can confirm they will set sail for Sierra Leone on Friday.
Three helicopters from Culdrose will be on board RFA Argus.
The hospital ship will supply equipment and training but it will not take patients.
Captain David Eagles has this message to reassure relatives: "Families are a little bit concerned and that's completely understandable. Hopefully with the education process we now have in place we're going to release information onto the Navy and RFA family sites, Facebook and websites and then once we're away I'll provide a daily update on where we are and what we're doing, again, to reassure our families.
"It's very much a westcountry link. The ship has its long-term maintenance contract here with A&P Falmouth, additionally as well as the Culdrose-based Merlins, the Royal Marines are all from Plymouth so it really is a south-west unit about to deploy. Personally I'm confident we can achieve our mission and bring everybody back safely."
The Defence Secretary has praised the professionalism and expertise of military and civilian personnel preparing to sail with Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Argus to Sierra Leone as part of the UK's leading role in response to the Ebola outbreak.
Michael Fallon MP visited the aviation support ship in Falmouth, Cornwall, today (Tuesday) and met members of the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Marines who will deploy to West Africa later this week.
The ship will take three Merlin helicopters and aircrew and engineers from 820 Naval Air Squadron. The ship will also be able to facilitate the rapid transport of Army medical teams and aid experts, deployed to help tackle the Ebola virus.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Britain is leading the effort in Sierra Leone and everything I've seen today confirms how well equipped we are to do that.
"The UK Armed Forces have so far played a pivotal role in delivering Britain's response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone with our engineers and planners working alongside local building contractors on the construction of Ebola Treatment Centres and healthcare facilities.
"The imminent deployment of RFA ARGUS is another way in which the British military's expertise can be used to support the Government of Sierra Leone as together we tackle the spread of this appalling disease."
The deployment of RFA ARGUS increases the UK's contribution to the fight against Ebola which is being coordinated by the Department for International Development.
So far more than 300 military engineers and planners have deployed as part of the UK taskforce, with the first staff arriving in late August.
Focused on delivering support to the Sierra Leone Government, the military teams are working alongside local contractors on the construction of the Ebola Treatment Centres.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "A massive thanks to our British troops who have been working alongside humanitarian colleagues and Sierra Leoneans to help defeat Ebola. The support of RFA Argus and the three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters will be invaluable as we continue to battle this terrible disease.
"The UK continues to lead the international response, with a large team on the ground and regular aid flights delivering essential supplies to control and defeat the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone."
In the coming weeks more than 200 military staff will also be deployed to run and staff the World Health Organisation-led Ebola training facility that will assist in the training of healthcare workers, logisticians and hygiene specialists who are needed to staff the Ebola Treatment Centres.
Defence's total contribution will amount to 750 personnel. The UK's treatment centres will provide direct medical care for up to 8,800 Ebola patients over six months.
Captain David Eagles added: "RFA ARGUS is flexible and can be adapted to transport large amounts of equipment very quickly. It therefore makes her the ideal vessel for a mission such as this, where her unique capabilities and experience will see us able to provide much needed supplies and expertise to the people of Sierra Leone.
"I am confident that our people will have the support and extensive training they will need to make a positive contribution to the efforts to tackle Ebola."
5:17pm 14th October 2014
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