HMS Enterprise sailors keep cool heads during casualty evacuation

Sailors on board HMS Enterprise were ready to act when one of their own had to be winched up into a helicopter after falling ill.

While she does not have an aircraft of her own, the ship’s company knew what to do when the US 7th Fleet sent two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to pick up the casualty and take him to shore.

The incident happened while the Echo-class survey ship was sailing in the Asia Pacific, south of Japan. With one of the sailors on board needing urgent medical treatment ashore, Enterprise used her strong relationships with her US and Japanese counterparts to ensure he got treatment in just a few hours.

The sailor had irregular heartbeat and it meant the ship needed to make a bold alteration of course towards Okinawa, Japan, where a medical team were waiting. With the care and welfare of their shipmate at the centre of their thoughts, the ship’s company rose to the challenge and were ready to call “hands to flying stations”.

Operating so far from home, the crew relied on effective pre-deployment training and regular on-board training to ensure they were ready to act when the time came.

I am proud of the professionalism and commitment of our fellow nations and of our sailors, without whom we could have been facing a very different situation.

HMS Enterprise Commanding Officer Captain Cecil Ladislaus

With the Pave Hawks inbound, HMS Enterprise was prepared to receive the US Air Force pararescueman onto her deck and complete the Casevac (casualty evacuation) successfully. The helicopters then signalled their departure and made for the US Naval Hospital on Camp Foster Okinawa.

Here, the sailor was assessed and then sent on to a Japanese hospital where his condition was deemed not to be as serious as first thought. He is now recovering back in the UK.

HMS Enterprise Commanding Officer Captain Cecil Ladislaus said: “I am proud of the professionalism and commitment of our fellow nations and of our sailors, without whom we could have been facing a very different situation.”