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Austal USA awarded $867 million for three hospital ships

22nd December 2023 - 16:42 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The EMS will be based on the USN's Expeditionary Fast Transport ship. (Image: Austal USA)

The US Navy’s new Expeditionary Medical Ships (EMS) will be designated Bethesda Class EMS and first of class will be called USNS Bethesda.

Austal USA will build three EMS for the US Navy (USN) under an US$867.6 million final design and construction contract. The ships will be built at the company’s aluminium manufacturing line following completion of the last Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF 16).

The EMS, an EPF variant, has been designed to provide a dedicated medical ship optimised to provide patient holding, stabilisation, evacuation and transport in support of distributed maritime operations.

The EMS design will feature a shallow draft to enable greater reach and allow for direct access to austere ports. The flight deck will accommodate military aircraft including the V-22 and H-53K.

The ship designs will be aluminium, commercial-based catamarans that do not feature combat systems, with the original ships of the design built in Tasmania. Austal will build all of the EPFs to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards.

Manufacture of two additional ships was approved in the FY2023 budget at that stage, which was for two additional ships at a value of $645 million, with plans to use the EPF as a base for the EMS being in the USN’s planning since at least 2021.

Carlos Del Toro, secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), said in May that it would be the navy’s first medical ship in 35 years.

‘This ship, designed with more expeditious and direct access to diagnostic, specialty and hospital care, will allow for increased capabilities and health care,’ Del Toro remarked.

The design will provide a broad range of medical capabilities including triage/critical care, three operating rooms, medical laboratory, radiological capability, blood bank, dental, mental health, OB/GYN and primary care, rapid stabilization and follow-on evacuation of multiple casualties, and combat search and rescue including recovery at sea.

The primary mission of the EMS as a high-speed forward deployed medical ship will provide rapid responsive sea-based and near-shore hospital level critical care, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, non-combatant evacuation operations and special operations.

The Shephard News Team


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