An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


SECNAV Del Toro Names Future Medical Ship USNS Bethesda (EMS 1), Honors Medical Legacy

08 January 2024

From Courtesy Story

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro honored the history and community of healthcare professionals of Naval Support Activity Bethesda, by naming a future Bethesda-class Expeditionary Medical Ship USNS Bethesda (EMS 1), during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Jan. 8.The
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro honored the history and community of healthcare professionals of Naval Support Activity Bethesda, by naming a future Bethesda-class Expeditionary Medical Ship USNS Bethesda (EMS 1), during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Jan. 8.

The future USNS Bethesda is the lead ship of the new EMS class, which Secretary Del Toro formally named during Mental Health Awareness month in May 2023. The name selection follows the tradition of naming expeditionary medical ships after U.S. military hospitals.

“This ship, as well as all the Bethesda-class of expeditionary medical ships, is designed to provide hospital-level care in austere environments, and will serve not just our Sailors and Marines, but offer assistance and comfort to our allies and partners around the globe in times of need. Most of all, USNS Bethesda will serve as a beacon of hope, of comfort, of mercy, and of the American people’s enduring friendship to all she supports around the globe,” said Secretary Del Toro.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore and First Lady Dawn Moore joined Secretary Del Toro at the event. First Lady Moore is the ship’s sponsor, whose role is to maintain a lifelong relationship with the ship and crew. Mrs. Moore shared initiatives with supporting healthcare communities and her intent to continue her legacy of work with her sponsorship of the future USNS Bethesda.

“As a proud member of a military family and the First Lady of Maryland, it is my mission to stand up for those serving in the armed forces and for people who need healing – and the USNS Bethesda represents both pieces of that mission as a ship that will serve and heal,” said First Lady Moore. “I am so honored to have my name associated with the ship and her crew for years to come. As the ship’s sponsor, I look forward to maintaining a lifelong relationship with USNS Bethesda and those who serve aboard.”

“Today is special not just because of the health and support that the U.S.N.S. Bethesda will provide to our military, but because of what this ship represents. By bearing the name “Bethesda,” EMS-1 will carry the tradition and pride of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center – a legacy institution that stands for healing, hope, health, and heart.” said Governor Moore. “This is a moment of joy for our state, as U.S.N.S Bethesda will travel the world to places where most ships can’t — to carry forward healing in the midst of humanitarian crises and disaster relief for those who need healing the most, and provide healing for those who raised their hands to serve and stepped up to protect us.”

For decades, the name Bethesda has been synonymous to a world-class medical facility serving countless service members. Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1913-1920) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt envisioned a Navy Medical Center and in 1937 Congress appropriated funds for construction of a new Naval Medical Center, with groundbreaking on the site June 29, 1939, bringing to life what became the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and National Institutes of Health to Bethesda.

“Since 1940, the name Bethesda has been synonymous with world-class health care. As a part of its storied evolution, Naval Support Activity Bethesda is proud to have grown to support the more than 40 tenant commands dedicated to the healing of military members and their families. It’s only appropriate that the name Bethesda be used as the name for new Expeditionary Medical Ship and the name of the first ship in its class, EMS 1. Future USNS Bethesda will carry on this tradition of excellence and represents an incredible evolution in expeditionary medicine,” Capt. Alan Christian, Commanding Officer, NSA Bethesda.

Located just north of the Nation's Capital in Bethesda, Maryland, Naval Support Activity Bethesda is the home of the world renowned Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the flagship center of military medicine, and Uniformed Services University, dedicated to training medical professionals for careers in the Department of Defense and the Public Health Service.

“The USNS Bethesda truly represents a significant step in our Navy’s ability to provide expeditionary medical support to our forces across the distributed maritime environment,” said Rear Adm. Darin Via, the Navy’s 40th Surgeon General. “This ship—and its sister ships—will serve as the backbones of future missions, allowing us to deliver agile and responsive medical care whenever and wherever needed. The naming of the USNS Bethesda remains a testament to our unwavering commitment to the well-being of our forces. It symbolizes the strength, resilience, and compassion that our great Navy exemplifies. We express our deepest gratitude to all those who have contributed—and those who will contribute—in the creation of this remarkable ship. And on behalf of Navy Medicine, I extend my deepest thanks to all those who have had the honor of serving at Bethesda and helped build this institution’s proud legacy of healing through their selfless dedication and compassion.”

Bethesda-class expeditionary medical ships are designed as a dedicated medical ship that optimizes hospital-level medical care in support of distributed maritime operations (DMO). EMS will feature a shallow draft enabling greater reach and allowing direct access to shallow austere ports, while also providing a flight deck that accommodates military helicopters. This design provides a full 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 is to provide rapid responsive sea-based and near-shore hospital level critical care, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, non-combatant evacuation operations and special operations. The EMS is designed to respond and provide care at a more rapid pace than their predecessors, USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort, sailing at speeds of at least 30 knots with a range of 5,500 nautical miles at 24 knots.

Guidance-Card-Icon Dept-Exclusive-Card-Icon