Medical officer on SPS Cantabria

Published on Sharon Palmer (author), Lauren Norton (photographer)

Topic(s): International Fleet Review

Ship's medical officer Lieutenant Luis Martinez, of the Spanish Defence Force, on ESPS Cantabria's flight deck during the Warship Open Day at Garden Island on 6 October. (photo: Lauren Norton)
Ship's medical officer Lieutenant Luis Martinez, of the Spanish Defence Force, on ESPS Cantabria's flight deck during the Warship Open Day at Garden Island on 6 October.

It’s pretty obvious LEUT Luis Cotarelo Martinez, of ESPS Cantabria, loves his job.

A personable friendly character, he’s quick to say he’s not in the Navy but belongs to the Spanish Defence Department and his English is not good.

He stresses he knows little about the inner machinations of the ship, yet his guided tour of her suggests otherwise, as does his command of the English language.

Just before Garden Island was open to the public for the warship open day on 6 October, LEUT Martinez, Cantabria’s medical officer, gave a select few of us a quick but informative tour of the massive supply ship.

“While we are only going on a couple of levels today, there are 15 levels on this ship and 300 rooms,” he says.

“I don’t know every room on the ship but I should because if there’s an emergency I need to be there as quick as I can.”

The parts he does know extremely well are the fuelling bays, the flight deck and the hospital, which he takes great delight in showing us.

“We have all the latest equipment in terms of x-rays, ultrasounds, operating theatres and machinery. In very acute cases we can also video conference back to specialists in Madrid and show them what we are dealing with and get some assistance,” LEUT Martinez says.

“We would only use that in extreme cases where we may be dealing with bad injuries or wounds such as amputations, shotgun wounds and the like.

“Fortunately we haven’t had to use it yet.”

While he might not have had to work on severe injuries and illnesses this deployment, he is quick to point out they are no stranger to him.

“When I was in Afghanistan I had to conduct amputations and treat severe burns,” he says.

His hospital, located directly off the flight deck, consists of a triage room, x-ray room, operating theatre, ICU and general hospital beds.

“We need this area so close to the flight deck because casualties usually come aboard from a helicopter and we need to get them in here and assessed as quickly as possible,” he says.

His face lights up when asked about Australia.

“Oh yes, I love it here,” he says displaying a broad grin.

“The crew feel fortunate to be a part of Australia’s fleet review. It is something we will remember.”