The Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) HMS Clyde (P257) arrived in the remote South Georgia Island for a mass casualty exercise.
The island is part of the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI), a British Overseas Territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
Only around 30 people live on the island, which lies over 800 miles east of the Falklands, but during the Austral summer it is regularly visited by cruise ships carrying tourists keen to soak up Antarctic history, pay homage at Shackleton’s grave and wander around the abandoned whaling station.
There’s no hospital on South Georgia, no airfield and it’s beyond helicopter range so apart from the doctor who tends to the needs of the British Antarctic Survey team on the island – 22 scientists in the summer, a dozen in the winter – which monitors the rich wildlife.
And it falls on the doctor and the scientists to provide emergency care should there be an accident.
To keep their skills up to speed, Falklands patrol ship HMS Clyde rocked up as a stricken cruise liner with 20 ‘casualties’ after a fire.
Leading Medical Assistant Will Randall transformed his shipmates into bloodied, broken and traumatised ‘passengers’… who then delivered performances that would not be out of place in the West End.
The casualties suffered from injuries ranging from severe shock to open-leg fractures which the team quickly identified.
As the situation progressed the team assessed every individual and moved them across the bay to the main research station at King Edward Point in South Georgia’s ‘capital’ Grytviken, which served as the control hub for the exercise which was observed by the British Commander in the Falklands, Brig Baz Bennett.
The speed and effectiveness of the close-knit Antarctic Survey team demonstrated their ability to deliver prolonged care to those in need.
HMS Clyde (P257)
HMS Clyde (P257) is the fourth River-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) of the Royal Navy and is the tenth ship to bear the name.
She was launched on 14 June 2006 in Portsmouth Naval Base by VT Group shipbuilders in Portsmouth, England and was commissioned into the Royal Navy in a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval base on 30 January 2007.
She and her ship’s company went through a rigorous series of trials and safety training before undergoing operational sea training off Scotland.
After being commissioned into active service she was sent to the South Atlantic to relieve HMS Dumbarton Castle (P265) as the Royal Navy’s patrol vessel in the area based in the Falkland Islands. Unlike predecessors in this role Clyde will stay in South Atlantic waters for the foreseeable future, with a contract in place for her to remain in the Falkland Islands until 2018.
Clyde is a modified River-class OPV and incorporates several modifications. This included an extended length 81.5 m hull, a top speed of 21 knots, a 30 mm Oerlikon KCB gun, two miniguns and mountings for five general purpose machine guns (GPMG).
Clyde’s elongated hull permits a 20-metre strengthened flight deck able to accommodate a Merlin-sized helicopter. The ship has a full load displacement between 1,850 and 2,000 tonnes.
Clyde is capable of temporarily embarking up to 110 troops and their equipment and inserting them anywhere on the Falkland Islands. Clyde has a crew complement of 36.