In a crucial step toward becoming fully operational, HMAS Canberra recently embarked a team of medical professionals to set up and test the Primary Casualty Reception Facility onboard the newly commissioned ship.
Canberra has conducted First of Class Trials at sea off the east coast of Australia and in Jervis Bay and testing of the facility was a major part.
The embarked medical team were from Navy's Maritime Operational Health Unit, a unit that is at 48 hours preparedness to provide highly trained health care teams in support of maritime operations. The unit also forms part of the Australian Defence Force's 'Amphibious Ready Element'.
The team of 24 is made up of personnel from the Permanent and Reserve Navy and Army. They have a variety of specialisations and include doctors, nurses, medics and allied health professionals.
Officer in Charge of the Unit, Commander Alison Money, said that setting up the onboard facility was critical to the requirement to provide damage control surgery in the maritime environment.
“Once certified, this will be the best maritime acute care facility ever operated by the Royal Australian Navy,” Commander Money said.
Canberra’s Chief Medic, Chief Petty Officer Paul Bodensteiner, said he was looking forward to having the full medical capability online but he was also conscious of the enormous task ahead.
“We currently have a lot of responsibility with the sickbay and the added capability of the full facility is a little daunting but at the same time it’s great to get the ship one step closer to deployment tasking in the future,” Chief Petty Officer Bodensteiner said.
“These are exciting times for the Medical Department as we get exposure to visiting medical specialists from Navy, Army and Air Force.
“A lot of hard work has gone into getting to where we are at now, but this is the first step and there is a lot more to come.”
Commander Money said she and her team were very impressed with everything they have seen onboard Canberra.
“We are privileged to have been onboard Canberra contributing to what will be a great leap forward in health support to the Defence Force's amphibious capability,” she said.
Members of the Maritime Operational Health Unit will return to support the ship in various exercises throughout the year.