Last week the German frigate FGS Niedersachsen, deployed with the EU Naval Force (EU ANVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta received an emergency call from the Italian merchant vessel MV Jolly Perla. A crew member had acute heart problems and needed immediate medical assistance.
After consultation with the Dutch EU NAVFOR Force Commander, the Commanding Officer of FGS Niedersachsen, Commander Kurt Leonards, decided to change course to help the crew member on MV Jolly Perla, 140 nautical miles away from the frigate.
“For us there was simply no question that we would help this sailor given our medical capabilities. That is not only part of our mission, but seafarers simply help each other”, said Commander Leonard.
The German warship is excellently equipped for such emergencies. In addition to the ship’s doctor, the Niedersachsen has embarked a surgeon, an anaesthesiologist, a dentist and extra paramedics for the deployment with the EU counter piracy operation.
Commander Leonards informed the crew of the assignment and the Niedersachsen closes the distance to the Italian merchant vessel at full speed.
“No one on board remains unaware of a mission. We are a crew and can only be successful as a team. It is, therefore, important for my crew to know the details of the task at hand”, said Commander Leonards.
As soon as the distance allowed it, the medical team was airlifted using the ship’s helicopter to get to the patient as fast as possible.
While the doctor examines and treats the patient on board the MV Jolly Perla, the Niedersachsen has closed the distance to 45 nautical miles of the merchant vessel.
Late afternoon, the doctor reports back to the frigate: “The sailor has been stabilised and can continue his journey to the next port of call without medical supervision.“
The medical team is returned to the Niedersachsen by helicopter.
Concluding, Commander Leonards said: “I am happy that the sailor was stabilised and on the way to recovery thanks to our professional medical team.”
Press Release, September 23, 2013; Image: EU Navfor