Fleet Surgical Team 9 Brings
Additional Capabilities to BHR

By Ryan Valverde

Meulaboh, Indonesia — Sailors and Marines assigned to USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) load pallets that are used to transport food and water to the victims of the tsunami on a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) assigned to Assault Craft Unit Five (ACU-5). Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group, currently operating in the Indian Ocean off the waters of Indonesia and Thailand in support of Operation Unified Assistance, the humanitarian operation effort in the wake of the Tsunami that struck South East Asia.

Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jenniffer Rivera / U.S. Navy Photo

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) — During Operation Unified Assistance (OUA) in January, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 9 worked hand-in-hand with USS Bonhomme Richard’s (BHR) (LHD 6) medical department to prepare countless numbers of vaccines for BHR’s Sailor and Marines going ashore.

The Navy surgical team enhanced Bonhomme Richard’s first-rate medical department with surgical capabilities by providing the ability to perform life-sustaining surgical procedures.

"By the time we pull away from the pier, it’s not a fleet surgical team separate from the ship," said Cmdr. William Leninger, command amphibious task forces surgeon and FST 9 officer in charge. "The surgical team is an added capability to the whole BHR medical department and as part of the whole ESG (Expeditionary Strike Group) 5 medical capabilities."

FST 9 includes a general surgeon, operating room nurse, intensive care nurse, family practice physician, respiratory therapist, X-ray technician, lab technicians and other general hospital corpsmen.

"We are 100 percent integrated with ship’s [corpsmen] company," said Lt. Christen Fragala, family practice physician with FST 9.

BHR’s medical facilities include six operating rooms, three X-ray machines, an 18-bed intensive care unit and 600 light-care beds. The “Revolutionary Gator” is designed to be a primary casualty receiving ship. The medical department, with the added FST-9 capabilities, is able to provide immediate care to stabilize the patients until they can be transported to the closet hospital.

"The idea is, right on the scene, we can provide immediate, life-saving surgery," explained Leninger, an Escondido, Calif., resident. "We will stabilize patients in preparation for transport and evacuation to higher level of care."

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Frank Dunbar, BHR’s only operating room technician who works directly with FST 9, said BHR can provide immediate life-sustaining medical care.

"We are not here to make you pretty, but more as a damage control," said Dunbar, a Sacramento, Calif., native.

In the pre-deployment phase of training, 16 Sailors from FST 9 attended the Naval Trauma Training Center at Los Angeles County Hospital at University of Southern California. It was a four-week intensive, hands-on internship style of training in real life trauma scenarios.

"One of the keystones of their training was four weeks at the Navy Trauma Training Center in Los Angeles . . . helping taking care of any trauma victims that came through, so they got very comfortable with all the immediate, life-saving surgical interventions," Leninger said.

The FST 9 trainees at L.A. County treated patients with wounds that closely resembled the type of injuries they may encounter from the battlefield. The training also taught the FST 9 Sailors how to react to casualties as a team.

"Seeing everything in a high pressure situation got me ready for what I was required to do,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Adam Greene, from Hendersonville, N.C., FST 9 surgical technician. “Plus, I got to work with a lot of the guys on my team to see how they are and how they react in those situations.”

Most of BHR’s medical team agrees they hope they never have to respond to any of these medical situation during deployment, but are trained and ready to respond if the need arises.

Bonhomme Richard is currently deployed as ESG 5 flagship conducting operations in support of the global war on terrorism.

Bonhomme Richard Arrives On Station in Persian Gulf

By Walter T. Ham IV

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) — After delivering more than 1 million pounds of humanitarian relief supplies ashore during Operation Unified Assistance, the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) arrived on station Jan. 26 in the Persian Gulf.

BHR and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit bring a flexible, versatile and powerful combination of capabilities to the region, including the ability to conduct amphibious operations, non-combatant evacuations, humanitarian assistance operations and maritime interdiction operations.

According to BHR Commanding Officer Capt. J. Scott Jones, Bonhomme Richard is a “multipurpose assault platform that has the kind of capabilities our nation needs to deal with the threats in this region and any other.”

“The brave young warriors who take this great ship to sea are ready to do our nation’s business here on the point,” said Jones. “They are committed to defending our great nation and the hope we represent to freedom-loving people around the world.”