Both our surgical teams - US and UK - have really seen a benefit

Lieutenant Commander David Morley, medical staff officer

Although she doesn't possess the comprehensive 'hospital suite' fitted aboard RFA Argus, Cardigan Bay still has a sizeable medical facility - including an operating table and several critical care beds.

In emergencies and conflict, a fully-operational sickbay could provide 'Role 2' treatment - performing emergency surgery sufficient to stabilise a casualty so they can be transported to a permanent hospital ashore.

The two nations' medical teams practised casualty handling, treating combat casualty care and airway management, including intubation training - putting a pipe down the throat to aid a patient's breathing.

"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 Cardigan Bay's Role 2 Afloat facility.

"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."

Among the chief differences is power. The Americans' medical equipment runs on just 110 volts… whereas the UK system runs on 240 volts… so electrical transformers are required.

"The American team comes as a package with their own equipment, and if they were to deploy on board here, they would bring their own equipment," Jon explained.

"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 on board."

Lieutenant Commander David Morley, medical staff officer with the Royal Navy’s permanent staff in Bahrain, UKMCC, said the team aboard Cardigan Bay were "really, really happy" with the results of Azraq Serpent 18. "Both our surgical teams - US and UK - have really seen a benefit."