HMS Ocean Conducts Mid Atlantic Dash

When you are on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic and something goes wrong, there is no one around to help - or so the crew of the Italian registered 'Grand Guinea' thought when one of their crew members was struck down with an acute case of suspected appendicitis on Friday night. Fortunately, HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy's largest warship, was on hand to assist.

Although nearly 600 miles away, conducting maritime security operations in the Gulf of Guinea, Captain Keith Blount, HMS Ocean's Commanding Officer, turned the 20,700 tonne helicopter carrier around and proceeded towards the vessel at maximum speed. By the following morning HMS Ocean was close enough to launch one of her Lynx helicopters and the Ship's Medical Officer was winched onboard the Grand Guinea to assess the patient and provide immediate medical care. It was immediately clear that the patient needed urgent hospital treatment, so the decision was made to transfer him to HMS Ocean, where he could be stabilised in the Ship's medical centre, before being transferred to a hospital in Cape Verde later that day, once the ship was within range.

Lieutenant Pascal Patterson, the Lynx helicopter pilot, said:

"This kind of medical rescue is something we train for regularly and with such good weather conditions it was a straight forward procedure to winch him onboard the aircraft. He was obviously in quite a lot of discomfort when we arrived, so I am glad we were able to get the medical officer to him when we did".

HMS Ocean is currently conducting maritime security operations in the Gulf of Guinea, in close partnership with Cape Verdean and Portuguese legal authorities. Due to return to the UK at the end of October, this is the final phase of an extremely successful 5 month deployment that has seen the Ship travel over 16,000 miles, visiting 4 continents and conducting a wide range of roles, including Amphibious War-fighting Exercises, Maritime Security Operations, Defence Diplomacy and Capacity Building.