Routines at sea 8 - Advantages of not being declared a hospital ship, 1990s

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Claire Taylor 1999Claire Taylor

Service: 1968 - 1997

Rate: QARNNS Matron-in-Chief and Tri-Service Director of Nurse Education

Claire joined the QARNNS (Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service) in 1967 as a State Registered Nurse and State Certified Midwife. She worked at Royal Naval Hospital M'Tarfa in Malta, RNH Haslar and HMS Ganges until 1973 when she left the service to work in Papua New Guinea.

On rejoining in 1975 she became a Sister Tutor and undertook a number of teaching posts primarily at RN Medical Services School Haslar. In 1987 she was appointed to the new Tri-Service body at MoD in London. During the Gulf War she was based in London as Deputy Matron-in-Chief. In 1994, she became Matron-in-Chief, together with the post (in 1996) of Tri-Service Director of Nurse Education.


Claire discusses the advantages of not declaring RFA Argus as a hospital ship during the Gulf War.


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Extract Text (Duration 2.26)

Because the US had two large hospital ships that were declared to the Red Cross; and so they had to remain at least 600 miles away from the main battle group. The Argus was not declared and was not a hospital ship, it was deemed a primary casualty receiving ship, and Argus carried out her work as a helicopter repair ship and continuous training ship at the time which, although it meant that the facility was a legitimate target had the Iraqi's decided to attack it, she was able to come under the protection of ships alongside her and she was able to have close protection machine guns mounted onboard, so that she... because she was not a designated hospital ship, she was able to be much further forward, and in fact she was the longest serving ship in the frontline of any ship in the conflict. And like everything else it's weighing up the situation at the time, whether it is better for your patients to have the medical facility far forward but a legitimate target, or to have your medical facility perhaps one day's sailing and certainly a couple of hour's flying time away, with your medical staff protected but with your patients having to wait longer for definitive treatment. And in the circumstances as they were it was a decision that was made to not declare the hospital facility and to have Argus as far forward and as close to the line of battle as possible.