Army Nurse Embraces New Challenge on the High Seas

Lieutenant Adrienne Langford is revelling in life in the New Zealand Army.
Lieutenant Adrienne Langford is revelling in life in the New Zealand Army.

6 October 2017

One of the main motivations for Lieutenant Adrienne Langford when joining the New Zealand Army as a nursing officer was to be able to practice nursing in challenging, unique and diverse environments.

She got exactly that on a recent assignment, on Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Wellington using her skills as a resuscitation nursing officer during flight trials operations.

“This type of duty is exactly what makes a career as a New Zealand Defence Force nurse exciting – offering diversity and flexibility, while being hugely rewarding.
No two days are ever the same,” she says.

Lieutenant Langford, who is from Tapawera near Nelson, joined the Army in January this year, after working as a ski instructor and nurse in a variety of remote rural areas.

Her initial work in the Army consisted of undertaking joint officer induction, as well as specialist officer and health officer training courses and then health support provision on exercises.

Before the recent exercise she was excited but also very nervous at the thought of spending three weeks at sea on HMNZS Wellington and was still a little unsure what to expect from the exercise. 

“I didn’t have much time for the nerves to settle,” she says. “The crew soon set into full swing with man-overboard, fire, toxic-gas and helicopter-crash-on-deck drills.”

After a week at sea she was immersed in the day-to-day life on the ship and was amazed how quickly the hours pass at sea.

“I ensured I was getting involved in as many activities as possible: spending an evening with the air flight crew watching the helicopter trials from the flight deck, observing the medics running CPR training, daily operations in the sick bay, and cleaning stations.

“I rapidly learnt some of the morale boosters that occurred and most fortunately I found out that I don’t get seasick.”

To ensure those on the flight trials were assessed in the full spectrum of higher winds and higher seas the HMNZS Wellington ventured high into Pacific Island water, which allowed Lieutenant Langford to enjoy some hot, sunny days in mid-winter. During Island Time she experienced “Sundays at Sea”, dolphin watching.

“I learnt that there is such a thing as flying fish, participated in the bucket ball championship and notionally died very quickly in the on-board Hunger Games,” she says.

On returning to New Zealand water there was another rush of drills - engine failures, man overboard (with the chance to be in the RHIB recovery team), damage control fire exercise, and boat drills.

“This exercise has been an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge of operations and networking in a tri-service environment, gain new experiences, make new friends and learn new skills,” she says.

“There is a strong sense of comradeship and community among the ship’s company and I feel honoured to have been welcomed into the team for a short period. I look forward to the next time I get to participate in a maritime exercise.

“At the end of the exercise I can now say I have an okay understanding of Navy slang and yes, I’d be disappointed if there was No Duff.”

While new to the military environment, Lieutenant Langford has no doubt she made the right decision.

“This has proved to be my best career move yet,” she said.

This page was last reviewed on 8 October 2017.