Routines at sea 6 - Status of RFA Argus in Gulf, 1990s

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Jullia MasseyJulia Massey

Service: 1968 - 1996

Rate: Captain

Julia joined the QARNNS (Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service) in 1968 and worked at Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, a number of medical facilities in Malta, RNH Plymouth, HMS Pembroke and RNH Hong Kong. In 1982, she was part of the nursing team embarked on SS Uganda for the Falklands War and during the Gulf War she was responsible for allocating nurses to RFA Argus. In 1994 she was involved with the Defence Cost Studies Report which led to the closure of the RN Hospitals, the establishment of tri-service training and the reduction of the QARNNS by nearly a half.

Julia compares the different status of hospital facilities at sea from the Falklands to the Gulf War.

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Extract Text (Duration 1.21)

The equipment of course was much better and the uniforms for the nurses were set, so that happened well.  It was for us the first time that QARNNS nurses had been in a war situation but were in a grey funnel ship, previously we... we had always been under the Geneva Convention in a hospital ship.  Because the Argus was an RFA ship she could not be a hospital ship under the Geneva Convention so she was called a primary casualty receiving ship and life for the nurses onboard was really quite a shock, they were not living obviously in the comfort that we did in Uganda going to the Falklands, and until that time there had not been really a designated hospital ship since Argus was used at the Gulf War.  She has since become the designated primary casualty receiving ship and now the nursing staff do exercise in the ship, but this only has happened post the Gulf War.