The History and Development of Radiologic Imaging on United States Naval Service (USNS) Hospital Ships

George Tsoukatos, BPS, RT(R)

*Medical Imaging Consultant, Germantown, NY

Address correspondence to: George Tsoukatos, BPS, RT(R)Radiology Support ServicesPO Box 215, Germantown, NY 12526. E-mail:

Disclosure Statement: The author reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


The noncombatant achievements of the United States Naval Service (USNS) hospital ships should be noted in history as one of the greatest peacetime achievements of this elite military branch. Since their development in the early 19th century to the present, USNS hospital ships have played an important role in the US military's response to the medical needs of its own personnel and those encountered during conflict and peacetime. From treating injuries and other medical concerns sustained in combat, to humanitarian/noncombatant ailments, these ships have provided a wide variety of support, and their peacetime accomplishments and contributions have earned them a notable place in the history of naval vessels. Offshore and aboard medical and diagnostic imaging support have been major fields of study and development, which continue to evolve to this day, and have contributed greatly to the success of hospital ships.

This course will focus on the history and evolution of medical imaging technologies onboard USNS hospital ships. It will detail how various military conflicts and related historic milestones helped to transition the life and function of many USNS hospital ships, what ships were in service, and the technological advancements and evolution of medical imaging equipment that was used on board. The earliest utilization of conventional X-ray, and eventually computed radiography and digital radiography, and their progression to present day will be detailed. The evolution of procedures, protocols, and required personnel training as these technologies evolved will also be discussed. The development and utilization of sonography, computed tomography, and picture and archiving systems (PACS) on board USNS hospital ships will also be outlined.

Dedication: This course is dedicated to the brave men and women throughout the generations of conflict who have served as US Navy corpsman and military medics on hospital ships and as well as field units. Their sacrifice to save and treat others is eternal.

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