DUQM, Oman – The senior medical officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Five medical officers met with local doctors in Duqm, Oman, where they exchanged tours of the ship’s medical facilities and the town’s local facilities Dec. 31, 2014.
Dr. Alan Basalio, a general practitioner at the Port of Duqm Clinic, hosted the tour for the Navy doctors. For him, it offered a rare chance to view the medical facilities of a casualty receiving trauma ship, like Makin Island – serving almost as a convention, of sorts, without leaving town.
“Out of professional curiosity, I want to know what is going on in the world – medically speaking,” said Basalio. “If I need to replenish my clinic with some of the things I see on the ship, I can recognize that and know to order them.”
Basalio guided Capt. Lloyd Burgess, Commander, Amphibious Task Force surgeon and officer-in-charge of FST 5, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Bidlack, Makin Island’s senior medical officer, and Lt. William Lawson, the medical regulating control officer of FST 5, on a tour of the town’s local hospital, a hotel with a large model of the town’s growth plan and the port clinic.
Duqm is a small but thriving fishing village in the Arabian Sea with a focus on increasing tourism and establishing the port as a viable ship repair facility.
Duqm has a hospital suited for its small size for now, but throughout the tour Basalio focused on a high population growth rate and plans for a much larger hospital facility as Duqm plans on surpassing the 100,000 mark in the coming years.
According to the Muscat Daily, Duqm currently hosts 3,000 Omani families and an additional 12,000 laborers.
“It’s a good insight into a country,” said Bidlack. “As a Navy doctor, it’s good insight into what the host nation can provide in the event of a crisis.”
Bidlack has participated in multiple tours of the similar sort, having toured facilities in India, Thailand and Afghanistan prior to the Duqm tour.
Burgess is also no stranger to a medical tour, but said he was impressed the most by how great his host’s hospitality was.
“The hospital administrator invited us into his private office and gave us milk-tea and Omani bread,” he said. “Then later the hotel offered coffee and tea, and later still, the clinic gave us coffee and dates. It was great.”
While a modern Navy ship is furnished with extensive medical facilities and Duqm is still growing and establishing itself, the medical teams from both are already effectively communicating and sharing with the hopes of making the world a healthier place to be in the future.
“Knowledge is a good thing,” Basalio said. “We’re sharing it and they’re sharing it.”
The Makin Island ARG and the embarked 11th MEU are currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.