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Lisa Holliday & Tyler Jones - Gold Coast

A fascination with teeth was just the beginning of a friendship between Gold Coast-raised Lieutenant Lisa Holliday and Able Seaman Dental Assistant Tyler Jones.

The pair make up the Royal Australian Navy dental health care unit aboard HMAS Adelaide, currently deployed as part of a Joint Task Group supporting Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018 and Exercise RIMPAC 18.

They met in 2014 when Lieutenant Holliday was then an Air Force dentist and Able Seaman Jones had just completed her initial dental assistant training. They have worked together since deploying on Adelaide in February 2017.

Both grew up on the Gold Coast, with Able Seaman Jones attending Merrimac and Beaudesert High Schools and Lieutenant Holliday attending St Hilda's School, they say they didn't realise until they went home for Christmas one year.

"We probably found out we were both from the Gold Coast through a general chat," Able Seaman Jones said.

"There are a lot of people from Queensland in the Navy, so it wasn't too surprising we were both from the Gold Coast," Lieutenant Holliday said.

Lieutenant Holliday said the best part of her job was having complete autonomy over the care of her patients.

"We work together all day, especially when we're at sea, so we have to be pretty close," she said.

"Even when we're at home, I'm always paired with a fleet dental assistant."

Able Seaman Jones likes meeting people of all ranks and rates from Australian and international fleets.

"I'm always really interested in the treatment we do, and watching how Lieutenant Holliday shapes a tooth," Able Seaman Jones said.

"It sounds silly, but you have to have an eye for shaping a tooth and it's really amazing to watch."

The ship's dental clinic differs from a land-based one, in that it must have everything stocked before the ship leaves, including patient files.

"Unless it's a serious issue and we have to conduct a medical evacuation, the buck stops with me," Lieutenant Holliday said.

"I'm the one who has to relieve a patient of pain and patch them up until they can seek specialist care."

This means the entire dental surgery is packed into a few boxes.

"If we forget something, we can't just go out and get it, we need to improvise to make it work," Able Seaman Jones said.

"There are so many fine details which go into making a trip go smoothly, but everything has come together really well for this deployment."

They said having a dental care on-board was critical to maintaining the health of the crew over long deployments.

"There aren't many opportunities for our sailors to complete an annual dental check-up when they're at sea for long periods of time," Lieutenant Holliday said.

"Generally people change their personal routine while they're at sea, which changes their oral hygiene practices.

"We can cover any extra treatments which are required, as well as those annual check-ups, which reduces the strain on our dental units back in Australia."

"We had about 15 patients come through in the first two weeks of leaving Australia, including one US Marine, all of whom had broken their teeth," Able Seaman Jones said.

"If it weren't for our ability to fix them, some might have had to return to Australia due to dental pain."

Both agree their favourite thing about the Gold Coast is the pristine beaches and laidback lifestyle.

"I used to have a weekly family ritual of going fishing with my dad, pop and brother, then going out to Sizzler," Able Seaman Jones said.

"I have many memories of the Coast, though all of my favourites were when I was with my family and close friends."

Lieutenant Holliday's fondest memories were going for family walks along the Broadwater.

"I used to love going down to the Spit with our dog, and swimming at Main Beach and Burleigh; or going out on the boat with family and friends on the weekend," she said.

Though Lieutenant Holliday and Able Seaman Jones miss the Gold Coast, they both enjoy the variety Navy offers, including their current deployment.

More than 1,000 personnel are deployed in the task group aboard HMA Ships Adelaide, Melbourne, Success and Toowoomba.