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USS Relief circa 1908
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Class:        RELIEF (later REPOSE)
Design:        Passenger, 1896
Displacement (tons):        3,094 gross, 3,300 displ.
Dimensions (feet):        313.3' oa, 299.2' pp x 46.0' x 15.8' mn
Original Armament:        None
Later armaments:        --
Complement:        184
Speed (kts.):        16
Propulsion (HP):        4,000
Machinery:        Vert. triple expansion, 1 screw

AH Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
-- RELIEF 13 Nov 02 Delaware River Iron SB&E -- 22 Oct 96 6 Feb 08

AH Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
-- RELIEF 10 Jun 10 -- 9 Jan 22 Sold --

Class Notes:
In October 1896 the Delaware River Iron Ship Building and Engine Works at Chester, Pa., launched the coastal passenger and freight steamer JOHN ENGLIS for the Maine Steamship Co. (Portland Line). She was the largest steamer yet built for service on the Atlantic coast between Florida and Maine. She and her sister HORATIO HALL (launched in 1898, both named after officials of the company) were designed to run between Portland, Maine, and New York, completing the 320 nautical mile trip in 20 hours. Each ship had two masts, one smokestack, 124 staterooms with two berths each plus 292 passenger berths below, and a large freight capacity.

In late March 1898 the press reported that the JOHN ENGLIS of the Maine Line might soon be added to the fleet as a hospital boat. The Naval Board on Auxiliary Cruisers re-inspected her on 5 Apr 98. She was little over a year old and was one of the finest vessels in the coasting trade. She was ultimately acquired for this purpose, but for the Army instead of the Navy. The War Dept. paid $450,000 for her. RELIEF was transferred from the Army to the Navy on 13 Nov 02 without transfer of funds. According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, she remained inactive into 1908 at Mare Island Navy Yard while factions within the Navy debated whether she should be commanded by a line officer or a medical officer. President Theodore Roosevelt's desire that a hospital ship accompany the Great White Fleet on its round-the-world voyage led to his endorsement of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery viewpoint. Accordingly, RELIEF was commissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard 6 Feb 08, Surgeon Charles F. Stokes, USN, in command.

Departing San Francisco Bay on 22 Mar 08, RELIEF met the fleet in Magdalena Bay, Mexico, embarking patients for return to San Francisco. RELIEF rejoined the fleet at San Diego and remained with it while crossing the Pacific on its important mission representing U.S. interests and testing the Navy's capabilities. RELIEF's staff provided expert medical care, treatment, and consultations for the more than 14,000 officers and men of the Great White Fleet until detached in November 1908 at Olongapo, Philippine Islands. Ordered to return to the U.S. west coast, RELIEF departed Cavite 14 November 1908 but suffered serious damage in a typhoon on the night of 18 and 19 November. Returning to Cavite, the hospital ship was subsequently found to be unseaworthy by an official survey and became a stationary, floating hospital and dispensary. She was decommissioned on 10 Jun 10.

RELIEF continued in service as a floating dispensary at Olongapo, Philippine Islands, through World War I. Her name was changed on 11 Apr 18 to REPOSE to allow that of RELIEF to be assigned to a new hospital ship under construction at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In December 1918 the Navy planned to turn her over to the War Department for use by the Philippine Government upon completion of a hospital that the Philippine Government was to erect at Olongapo, but the project did not materialize. Instead during 1919 the ship was ordered sold. The Department on 15 Sep 20 instructed the Cavite Naval Station to remove equipment and advertise the ship for 30 days. On 1 Feb 21 CinC Asiatic Fleet recommended she be retained as a receiving ship and floating barracks for crews of submarines because the bids for sale had been too low, the highest being 200 pesos. The Department noted on an internal memo on 19 Feb 21 that she was retained in service pending sale.

The ship was again placed on the sale list by the Secretary of the Navy and the President with other ships on 1 Jul 21 due to age and non-military value. On 5 Jul 21 SecNav cancelled the authority granted in February to use REPOSE as a barracks and receiving ship and ordered CinC Asiatic Fleet to proceed with her sale in accordance with the orders of September 1920. The ship was finally sold 9 Jan 22 to J. F. MacLeod of Manila, for 20,000 pesos pending examination of ship's bottom at the buyer's expense. Cavite reported that the sale had been completed on 3 Feb 22. She entered mercantile service under Philippine registry in 1923 and was finally sunk during the Japanese conquest of the Philippines in March 1942.

Ship Notes:
AH Name Notes
-- RELIEF Ex merc. JOHN ENGLIS (completed Dec 96). Acquired from Army 1902. Renamed REPOSE 1918. Merc. HAI NING 1923, MINDANAO 1937, LANAO 1937. Sunk off Cebu in March 1942.

Page Notes:
AH        1898
Compiled:        01 Jan 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013