Shelter or protection from danger.
(AH - 11: displacement 16,800; length 522’8”; beam 62’; draft 26’ (limiting); speed 11.5 knots; complement 543)
The first Refuge (AH-11), a hospital ship, was built in 1921 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., as SS President Madison for American President Lines. Acquired by the Navy from WSA 11 April 1942 for conversion to a troop transport, she was named Kenmore (AP-62), and commissioned at Baltimore, Md., 5 August 1942, Comdr. Myron T. Richardson in command.
Following Chesapeake Bay shakedown, Kenmore put in at Norfolk, Va., 6 September and embarked men and equipment of the 13th Marine Defense Battalion and the 18th and 19th Naval Construction Battalions. Departing the 19th, she touched at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 24 September and steamed in convoy for the Pacific 4 October. Arriving off Noumea, New Caledonia, 11 November, she debarked her troops and offloaded her cargo, then reported 19 November to Rear Adm. R. K. Turner, Commander, Amphibious Forces, South Pacific.
Kenmore departed Noumea 28 November as a unit of TF 62, arriving off the beach east of Togoma Point, Guadalcanal, 3 December. There she offloaded troops and cargo for 2 days, thence returned to Noumea 11 December. She next steamed unescorted to San Francisco, arriving 5 January 1943 for overhaul at General Engineering & Drydock Co.
From 8 February until 27 May, Kenmore transported troops and cargo between San Francisco and the Hawaiian Islands. Departing San Francisco 13 June, she steamed for Noumea, arriving 6 July. A call at Tenaru Beach, Guadalcanal, 13 July was followed by a return to Noumea the 20th, with departure for the east coast of the United States 5 days later. She transited the Panama Canal 19 August, took on passengers at Cristobal, and steamed via Guantanamo for Norfolk, Va., arriving there 2 September. She then decommissioned at Baltimore, Md., the 16th, for conversion to a hospital ship by the Maryland Drydock Co.
Renamed Refuge and redesignated AH-11, the ship recommissioned at Baltimore 24 February 1944, Comdr. M. A. Jurkops in command. After partial fitting out at Baltimore, she steamed 10 March for the Norfolk Navy Yard. Assigned to the Service Force, Atlantic, she commenced assisting in the transport of casualties from the war zones to the United States.
Departing Hampton Roads 20 April, Refuge embarked patients at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, 6-8 May, and returned to Charleston, S.C., 24 May. From 1 June through 29 July 1944, she made two voyages to the British Isles, embarking patients at Belfast, Northern Ireland; Liverpool, England; and Milford Haven, Wales. These patients were returned to Newport News and Norfolk, Va.
Sailing again for the Mediterranean 2 August, she arrived Oran, Algeria the 17th, thence proceeded to the southern coast of France for operations between St. Tropez Bay and Naples, Italy. She departed Naples 16 September with embarked patients, took on additional patients at Oran, then steamed for New York, arriving 6 October.
After overhaul at New York, Refuge departed 1 November for South Pacific duty with the Service Force, 7th Fleet. Touching at Humboldt Bay, Dutch New Guinea, 16 December, she continued on 3 days later for the Philippines. Arriving San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on Christmas Eve, she commenced the embarkation of patients from small landing craft. By June 30th she had made six voyages from that area to deliver her casualties to either Hollandia, New Guinea or Seeadler Harbor, Manus, the Admiralties. She departed Seeadler Harbor 1 July for Manila, where she received patients from various Fleet units through the end of August 1945.
Refuge departed Manila 31 August for Jinsen, Korea, arriving 8 September. She sailed on the 17th, embarked evacuees at Shanghai, China, thence steamed for Okinawa, arriving 2 October. She then made two voyages between Okinawa and Tsingtao, China through 20 October.
After embarking patients and troops for return to the United States, Refuge departed Okinawa 22 October, took on additional patients at Saipan, and arrived San Francisco 18 November. Overhaul took her through 9 December, and 2 days later she departed for Yokosuka, Japan, arriving 4 January 1946. After embarking Army troops for transportation to the United States, she departed 7 January and returned to Seattle, Wash., the 28th.
Refuge decommissioned at Seattle 2 April 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list 8 May 1946 and she was delivered to the War Shipping Administration 29 June 1946. She was sold for scrap to Consolidated Builders 2 February 1948.
Refuge received one battle star for World War II service.
23 September 2005