RFA Cardigan Bay hosts US Navy medics for exercise Azraq Serpent

Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Cardigan Bay hosted personnel from the US and Royal Navy for exercise Azraq Serpent 18 (AS18).

The five-day exercise started January 14 and was aimed at developing interoperability between the two partners across the medical domain in the US 5th fleet area of operations.

The exercise was intended to demonstrate US military surgical capabilities aboard an RFA asset using organic logistic support.

Among the participants were UK armed forces members from Cardigan Bay, Deployed Health Care Team, 42 Commando Royal Marines, and navy, coast guard and air force personnel from the US.

The two nations performed drills that included simulated casualties, casualty handling training, tactical combat casualty care and airway management (which included intubation training).

“From a medical and clinical basis we’ve had quite a lot of experience in the past working with US medical teams in Afghanistan, but we haven’t really had that much experience in a maritime environment,” said Jon Matthews, clinical director of ‘Role 2 Afloat. “I think we all work very similarly from a medical point of view, but it’s establishing processes and the infrastructure of how we integrate.”

Part of integrating the infrastructure came in the form of the voltage differences between the two countries. Will the United Kingdom’s 220 volt plugs work with the United States 110 volt medical equipment?

“The American team comes as a package with their own equipment, and if they were to deploy onboard here, they would bring their own equipment,” said Matthews. “It allows the Americans an opportunity to see that we’ve got an in-built operating table, for instance, in-operating lights and critical care beds, so they know what’s actually on this ship and what they can expect to be able to use when they come onboard.”

Overall, the nations were able to come together making Azraq Serpent 2018 a success.

“The feedback I’m getting from the captain of the vessel is he’s really, really happy,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Morley, the lead planner for Azraq Serpent 18. “Both our surgical teams, US and UK, they’ve really seen a benefit.”