A ROYAL Navy nursing officer has played his part in a mission to tackle modern-day piracy in Somalia.
Lieutenant Commander Sean France, a senior nursing officer, was serving aboard Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Fort Victoria, which was deployed in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.
The ship, which has an intensive care facility, emergency department, operating theatre, helped deter and disrupt pirate attacks on merchant vessels as well as providing medical support.
Lt Cdr France, from West Wittering, who was part of an 18-strong team, said: 'I was responsible for the day-to-day running of the facility, under the direction of the senior medical officer. I was also the officer in charge of the medical emergency response team, which was tasked with treating and recovering casualties using either the ship's helicopter or with the ship's rescue boat.
'This deployment was an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the navy's afloat medical capability. Undertaking medical procedures at sea is significantly different from civilian nursing or even working in military medical units ashore. It is a skill which takes time to develop but is easy to lose, which is why we continually need to exercise and train.'
Lt Cdr France started his career with the Royal Artillery in 1985. He left the army in 1990 and started nursing training at St Richard's Hospital in Chichester, and joined the Royal Navy in 1999 as a nursing officer. In 2004 he became the first nurse practitioner at sea on the now-decommissioned HMS Invincible.