HMS Richmond: How are fires and medical emergencies tackled on a Royal Navy frigate?

Watch: How do personnel deal with fire or medical emergencies on a Royal Navy frigate?

HMS Richmond is a Type 23 Duke Class frigate serving in the Royal Navy, the seventh ship to bear the name in the Senior Service, with the first HMS Richmond named in 1660.

Based at HMNB Devonport, she can carry 185 personnel more than 7,800 miles, with a top speed of in excess of 28 knots.

But what does she do? What is life like on board? And how does the crew deal with emergencies like fire or illness?

Forces News went behind the scenes to find out more.

Lieutenant Tom Adlam, Officer of the Watch 1, told Forces News: "[HMS Richmond] has just recently celebrated her 30th birthday.

"She's an incredibly versatile unit and, whilst being one of the oldest ships in the fleet, is able to conduct submarine hunting, which she was primarily designed for but, more recently, we've conducted escorting duties and patrolling critical national infrastructure, both in the UK and Europe."

The frigate, the only Plymouth-based warship deployed on the mission, escorted HMS Queen Elizabeth across three oceans and five seas as part of the Carrier Strike Group 21.

The vessels sailed a combined 500,000 nautical miles through 10 different time zones – engaging with at least 67 ambassadors, 63 foreign ministers and 40 nations.

The group visited, or exercised with, 44 countries, including Cyprus, India, Japan, and Singapore.

Watch: How HMS Richmond's crew stay alert to the dangers of a fire on board.

Combating fire

When carrying out operations around the globe, how do personnel combat the perennial threat of a fire while being potentially hundreds of miles away from land?

In the video above, Lieutenant Jonathan Cowell, Fire and Repair Party Post Officer in Charge, gives a demonstration of the fire kit and clothing worn to tackle blazes on board.

Explaining the crew's readiness for fire control, he said: "Every person on board, from the captain all the way down to the most junior sailor who's just joined, will have conducted a sea survival safety course.

"That covers all aspects of damage control and firefighting, so everybody on board is trained as a firefighter, is trained in damage control, and then when they join the ship, they do compulsory, or mandatory, safety questionnaires when they join.

"Then they do regular training on board, so we do regular bouts of circuit training where we go out and we practise all this sort of stuff as well as higher level training that the ship's just completed."

Watch: How HMS Richmond's doctor manages the threats of illness and injury at sea.

Battling illness

In the video above, Surgeon Lieutenant Kenneth Morrison showed us around the ship's medical room.

He told Forces News about his role: "This is dealing with everything from minor cuts and bruises, all the way up to medical emergencies whilst we're at sea.

"90% of my job is simply just having a quiet chat with people often missing home and often just needing a confidential chat with the doctor before sending them back to work.

"One of my main jobs is advising command on the medical limitations of deployment. If somebody has fallen over, hurt their ankle etc, are they safe to be on board a ship?

"That's the main benefit having a doctor on board provides – do we need to get them off or can we safely look after them whilst they're on the ship?

"A lot of the day-to-day work that we do is called Force Health Protection, so making sure that everyone is up to date with their vaccinations, especially when we're going further afield, in the Far East etc, to make sure they're nice and healthy and making sure they're up to date with their dental check-ups as well."

Watch: Take a look at some of the weapons sailors use on HMS Richmond.

Staying shipshape

Despite the obvious constraints in relation to space, the ship's company find ways to keep themselves fit at sea.

Personnel routinely boost their endorphin levels with circuits at sunrise, runs around the perimeter of the ship, impromptu skipping sessions and in a gym equipped with free weights.

Leading Physical Trainer Amber explained: "My role is basically to keep the ship's company of HMS Richmond fit, ready to deploy anywhere we go in the world, just maintaining that physical fitness on board, whether that's fitness testing… running circuits, just generally keeping the ship's company fit and healthy."

Fuelling the ship's company

How do you feed a hungry crew?

The ship goes through 160 sausages a day, 10 packets of bacon each breakfast and 20 kilos of meat each meal.

Leading Chef Muller-Bosworth explained how they choose the culinary options: "What goes on the menu is just favourites – what people enjoy and like – it's a bit of a trial and error, really.

"Indian nights, usually firm favourite, fish Fridays – obviously do that on a Friday – steak nights Saturday, and we just try and keep it with trends going on in the food industry as much as we can."

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