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USS Antaeus (AS-21) on 30 June 1941
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Class:        ANTAEUS (AS-21)
Design:        Pass. & Cargo, 1932
Displacement (tons):        5,518 light, 7,800 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        403.0' oa x 61.0' e x 20.2' lim.
Original Armament:        1-4"/50 2-3"/23 (1941)
Later armaments:        1-4"/50 2-3"/23 8-20mm (1942)
1-4"/50 4-3"/50 16-20mm (1943);
1-4"/50 2-3"/50 4-20mm (1944)
none as hospital ship (1945)
Complement:        409 (as AG, 1944)
Speed (kts.):        20
Propulsion (HP):        13,000
Machinery:        Newport News turbines, 2 screws

AS Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
21 ANTAEUS 24 Apr 41 Newport News SB & DD -- 9 Jan 32 21 Jun 41

AS Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
21 ANTAEUS 29 Apr 46 15 Aug 46 29 Jun 46 MC 9 Oct 58

Class Notes:
FY 1941. In 1932 the Eastern Steamship Lines took delivery of two new coastal passenger ships, SAINT JOHN and ACADIA for its service between New York, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes. They joined two similar ships, EVANGELINE and YARMOUTH, which had been built for this firm by Cramp in 1927. All four ships entered military service in 1941-42, SAINT JOHN with the Navy and ACADIA, EVANGELINE and YARMOUTH with the Army.

On 19 Mar 41 the Chief of the Bureau of Ships informed the CNO that, under existing acts, there was enough authorized tonnage and funds for one more large auxiliary. He pointed out that these had been earmarked for an AV but, since all the needed AVs had been otherwise provided for, he suggested that the Navy might want to acquire and convert another type of auxiliary in its place. On 16 Apr 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that a suitable merchant vessel be acquired and immediately converted to a submarine tender. SAINT JOHN was selected and became ANTAEUS (AS-21).

This coastal passenger liner appears to have been only marginally suitable as a submarine tender. When operating in the Atlantic with Submarine Squadron 5 in 1941 ANTAEUS was described as an "accommodation vessel," suggesting that for this relatively small tender repair was a secondary function. After September 1942 she appears to have operated primarily as a coastal transport, carrying troops from the east coast to the Caribbean and to Argentia, Newfoundland, although the ship was not formally reassigned to Service Forces, Atlantic, and reclassified a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG) until September 1943. In December 1944 the JCS levied a requirement for six additional hospital ships, and the Navy chose ANTAEUS and REPUBLIC (AP-33) as its contribution. Between December 1944 and March 1945 ANTAEUS was converted at the New York Navy Yard from a transport to a hospital ship and was renamed RESCUE. Her sister, ACADIA, became an Army transport in late 1941, a "hospital transport" for the North African campaign in mid-1942, and a hospital ship in mid-1943.

After the Japanese surrender RESCUE was employed bringing troops home as part of Operation Magic Carpet. On 8 November 1945 CNO authorized Commander, Pacific Fleet to use Navy hospital ships in general transport service without changing their special markings but their designation was to be changed to APH. They would revert to the AH designation upon termination of this duty. At this time CNO made the temporary designation of APH-118 effective for RESCUE. RESCUE was released from Magic Carpet duty on 17 Jan 46, having been replaced by TRANQUILLITY on the Hawaii-San Francisco run.

Ship Notes:
AS Name Notes
21 ANTAEUS Ex merc. SAINT JOHN (ID-4865, completed 23 Apr 32). Converted by Maryland DD, Baltimore, Md. (in commission in ordinary 7 May 41). To AG-67 15 Sep 43. To AH-18 and renamed RESCUE 18 Jan 45. Used temporary designation APH-118 November 1945 to January 1946. Merc. ST. JOHN 1946 (MC). To buyer 31 Oct 58, scrapped by 28 Aug 59.

Page Notes:
AS        1941
Compiled:        12 Jul 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008