Adelaide nurse steps up from surfboat to frigate

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Tony White (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, New South Wales, Adelaide, South Australia

Topic(s): HMAS Creswell, HMAS Anzac (F150)

Nursing Officer Lieutenant Delaney O'Donohoe observes a smalls arms trade test conducted on the flight deck of HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Delaney O'Donohoe is on Phase 4 of her Reserve Entry Officer Course. (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Nursing Officer Lieutenant Delaney O'Donohoe observes a smalls arms trade test conducted on the flight deck of HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Delaney O'Donohoe is on Phase 4 of her Reserve Entry Officer Course.

Adelaide intensive care nurse and Navy Reserve Nursing Officer, Delaney O’Donahoe, recently escaped the cool southern weather to finalise her officer training onboard helicopter frigate, HMAS Anzac.

The trip which started in Darwin and finished in Sydney via Eden, involved Lieutenant O'Donahoe consolidate her initial training at the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Creswell on the New South Wales south coast and experience life at sea.

Navy Nurses serve both full time and in the Reserve as members of multi-disciplinary teams responsible for the good health of Navy personnel. Workplaces vary from well-equipped hospitals ashore to clinics on ships and facilities under canvas when deployed in international teams on operations. Reserve nurses often deploy at short notice from their civilian roles as part of Australian Defence Force support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

Lieutenant O'Donahoe had previously completed leadership and management modules, drill training, the Navy swimming and fitness tests, a pistol course and security awareness training at Creswell. She was then required to complete another eight modules via distance learning on topics such as how to write in a Defence style, basic warfare, naval history, the Defence Force Discipline Act and Maritime Doctrine. These units are self-paced over 12 months to allow for members to combine service with civilian work requirements.

Lieutenant O’Donahoe had some previous 'sea time' as a competitive surfboat rower with Brighton Surf Life Saving Club in the Navy sponsored Australian Surf Rowing League. 

"That surf boat weighs around 250 kg, and onboard a 3,800 tonne Anzac frigate the differences were obvious but the crew were really welcoming and it is pretty clear that small teams working together can achieve big things in both environments,” Lieutenant O’Donahoe said.

Before she proceeded to sea she was also trained in basic survival at sea, along with leak and damage repair techniches, basic first aid (although she was well across that one!). 

"Along the way I had the opportunity to ride in the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats that are used for boarding parties when we were off Cape York, did physical training on the flight deck at sunrise and observed small arms training up close," she said.

The aim of the sea training deployment, which usually takes about three weeks, is to familiarise Reserve members with all the parts of a working ship, to enable their specialist skills to be readily employed in the future. That said, for an intensive care nurse, away from the bustle of a working hospital, the voyage was also a chance to reflect on the simple things in life.

"Watching sunsets out on the ship’s flight deck seeing nothing but sky, sea and stars was the most amazing part," she said. 

Lieutenant O'Donahoe will be applying her intensive care skills across a range of defence operational environments across the world in the near future. If you'd like to join her visit http://www.defencejobs.gov.au/navy/jobs/NursingOfficer/.