Home' Navy News : July 5th 2012 Contents In-flight emergency
for Bluestokes nurses
CPL Max Bree
TWO Navy nurses on their way to
a medical training exercise faced
a mid-air emergency when a fel-
low passenger became unresponsive
during a flight from Sydney to Perth
on June 5.
LEUT Lynn Hocking was sitting
with psyche officer LEUT Susan
Copeland-Heath when she noticed
something wrong with a nearby
"Susan was sitting next to me
and she said 'Lynn, Lynn! Woman
behind'," LEUT Hocking said.
LEUT Hocking and another
nursing officer, LEUT Steve Line,
jumped out of their seats to find
the woman unresponsive with wide
eyes and dilated pupils.
"It looked like we were in for a
full resuscitation," LEUT Hocking
But as the nursing officers took
the woman out of her seat to lay
her on the floor, she began coming
"She looked at me and gave an
amazing smile," LEUT Hocking
Despite the woman's condi-
tion improving, the nursing officers
kept her horizontal and continued
to monitor her irregular heart beat
with a stethoscope and defibrillator
brought by the cabin crew.
LEUTs Hocking and Line stayed
with the woman as the plane divert-
ed to Adelaide where paramedics
then took her to hospital.
"It was well picked up by Susan
and well executed by Steve and
myself," LEUT Hocking said.
All three officers were on their
way to Ex Bluestokes at HMAS
Stirling in WA.
For more information on Ex Bluestokes
see page 14.
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July 5, 2012
SAVING SKILLS: LEUT Lynn Hocking and LEUT Steve Line in
Perth after they responded to the in-flight emergency.
Photo: ABIS Alan Lancaster
THE Navy's amphibious ships
HMAS Choules has suffered a
defect which caused her to return
to Sydney on June 14.
HMAS Choules left Sydney on
June 13 for Queensland where
she was scheduled to support
Exercise Hamel in the Shoalwater
Bay Training Area.
The defect occurred on one
of the six transformers which
form part of the ship's propulsion
system. This reduced the ship's
propulsion power by 50 per cent.
The ship's Commanding
Officer made the safe and prudent
decision to return to Sydney in
order to have the defect rectified.
The Navy has been advised
by the ship's previous operator,
the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, that the
defect is very unusual.
Chief of Navy VADM Ray
Griggs said assertions of Navy
attempting to cover up the fault
were "quite simply wrong".
"On Friday, July 15, I directed
that a press release be issued on
the following Monday advising of
the defect. Monday was chosen
to allow Navy time over the week-
end to more fully understand the
nature of the defect in the ship,"
VADM Griggs said.
Fleet Commander RADM Tim
Barrett said a technical investiga-
tion has begun to identify the pos-
sible cause of the defect.
Navy and the Defence Materiel
Organisation are working closely
with the original manufacturer of
the transformer to have it repaired
and the ship return to sea as soon
Navy will continue to be trans-
parent about its activities where
this does not jeopardise opera-
Help in sinking crisis
SWINGING INTO ACTION: HMAS Maitland, left,
and HMAS Leewin.
FOUR Navy vessels and four 92WG
AP-3C Orions were involved in major
search and rescue operations north of
Christmas Island when two irregular
maritime vessels sank in separate inci-
The first incident occurred on June
21 midway between Christmas Island
and Indonesia. One hundred and ten
people were rescued and 17 bodies
Reports indicated the vessel could
have been carrying about 200 people.
ADF assets were again called upon
on June 27 when another vessel cap-
sized 13 nautical miles east of the first
incident. On this occasion, 130 people
were rescued and one body recovered.
In the June 21 incident, the
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
(AMSA) launched a search-and-rescue
operation after a Customs and Border
Protection surveillance aircraft detect-
ed the vessel in distress.
An AP-3C Orion was diverted to
the scene and dropped life rafts.
Shortly after, a merchant vessel
arrived, followed quickly by two more
merchant vessels, which responded
to the AMSA request for assistance.
About 7.30pm, patrol boats HMAS
Larrakia and HMAS Wollongong
arrived on the scene.
During the following days, both
patrol boats, seven merchant ships and
several aircraft, including four Orions,
were involved in the search-and-rescue
operation in the area.
The Navy vessels were used to res-
cue survivors, provide on-scene com-
mand for the operation, and recover
bodies. They were also used to trans-
port the survivors and deceased back
to Christmas Island. A 37SQN C-130
ferried a support team to the island.
The search was called off on
June 24 by AMSA when it was
assessed there was no realistic pros-
pect for anyone to survive beyond that
In the June 27 incident, Border
Protection Command deployed HMAS
Maitland, HMAS Leeuwin and an
Orion to the scene to render assistance.
Three merchant vessels also responded
to AMSA's call for assistance.
Under the coordination of
AMSA, 130 survivors were res-
cued by the merchant vessels and by
HMAS Maitland. All survivors and
the body of one person were trans-
ferred to HMAS Leeuwin and taken to
Following both incidents, clinical
advice and support was provided to the
crews of the ships involved as part of
the Defence Critical Incident Mental
Health Support System.
In Parliament last week, members
acknowledged the bravery and
dedication of all who have worked
so tirelessly on the search and rescue
operations. They recognised the ADF
and border protection personnel's
professionalism and expertise in
response to the tragic events.
130 PEOPLE RESCUED: The vessel involved in the June 27 incident, as
viewed from the merchant ship MV Bison.
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