British and American battlefield medics practised their wartime interoperability aboard HMS Ocean.
A specialist US medical team joined the helicopter carrier for the casualty drill while the vessel is leading Task Force 50.
Commodore Andrew Burns, the Royal Navy’s Commander Amphibious Task Group, has taken charge of the US task force while currently embarked on HMS Ocean. Commodore Burns said:
“Together we have had an enduring Royal Navy and US Navy presence in this region that has contributed to stability, order on the high seas and freedom of navigation, and ensured the free flow of commerce, so vital to the prosperity of our nations.”
The 21,000 tonne vessel is an amphibious assault ship and landing platform helicopter. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force.
It is understood she has been chosen due to her command and control capabilities, rather than aviation capabilities as the role will largely be co-ordination of operations and the fleet itself.
Task force medical advisor Lt Spike Hughes said:
“The scenario may be an exercise, and the casualties may be volunteers, but the responses and reactions have to be perfect.”
Chief Petty Officer Medical Assistant Tim Johnston said:
“We are your GP, your paramedic, your nurse. We provide gold-standard care as a rule. It has to be gold-standard. You need the men and women to have confidence in our ability to provide them with the very best care –- they deserve that.”
The Americans were reportedly delighted with the hosts – and the medical equipment aboard. Lt Col Neva Vanderschaegen USAF said:
“Our main training aim was to explore the viability of operating from this type of ship and deal with patients using the facilities on board. This I am pleased to say was very successful.”