Refuge was given a name in keeping with the mission of hospital ships.
(AH-11: displacement 16,800; length 522'8"; beam 62'; draft 26' (limiting); speed 11.5 knots; complement 543)
President Madison was completed on 6 July 1921 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., and acquired by the War Shipping Administration (WSA) from the American President Lines on 6 September 1941 at 12:01 a.m., under a general agency agreement. The Navy Department purchased the vessel at noon on 11 April 1942 for conversion to a troop transport. Renamed Kenmore (AP-62), she was commissioned at Baltimore, Md., on 5 August 1942, Cmdr. Myron T. Richardson in command.
Converted to a hospital ship by the Maryland Drydock Company, Kenmore was renamed Refuge and redesignated as AH-11, and was recommissioned at Baltimore on 24 February 1944, Cmdr. M. A. Jurkops in command. After partial fitting out at Baltimore, she steamed on 10 March for the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia. Assigned to the Service Force, Atlantic, she began transporting casualties from the European and Mediterranean war zones to the United States.
Departing Hampton Roads on 20 April 1944, Refuge embarked patients at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria (6-8 May), and returned to Charleston, S.C., on 24 May. From 1 June through 29 July 1944, she made two voyages to the British Isles, embarking patients at Belfast, Ireland; Liverpool, England; and Milford Haven, Wales. These patients were returned to Newport News and Norfolk, Virginia.
Sailing again for the Mediterranean on 2 August 1944, she arrived at Oran, Algeria, on the 17th, then proceeded to the southern coast of France for operations between St. Tropez Bay and Naples, Italy. She departed Naples on 16 September with embarked patients, took on additional patients at Oran, then steamed for New York, arriving on 6 October.
After overhaul at New York, Refuge departed on 1 November 1944 for South Pacific duty with the Service Force, Seventh Fleet. Touching at Humboldt Bay, Dutch New Guinea, on 16 December, she continued on three days later for the Philippines. Arriving at San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on Christmas Eve 1944, she commenced the embarkation of patients from small landing craft. By June 30th 1944, 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 on 1 July for Manila, where she received patients from various Fleet units through the end of August 1945.
Refuge departed Manila on 31 August 1945 for Jinsen, Korea, arriving on 8 September. She sailed on the 17th, embarked evacuees at Shanghai, China, then steamed for Okinawa, arriving on 2 October. She then made two voyages between Okinawa and Tsingtao, China, through 20 October.
After embarking patients and troops for return to the U.S., Refuge departed Okinawa on 22 October 1945, took on additional patients at Saipan, and arrived at San Francisco on 18 November. Overhaul took her through 9 December, and two days later she departed for Yokosuka, Japan, arriving there on 4 January 1946. After embarking U.S. Army troops for transportation to the United States, she departed on 7 January and returned to Seattle, Wash., on the 28th.
Refuge decommissioned at Seattle on 2 April 1946, and her name was stricken from the Navy Register on 8 May 1946. Delivered to the WSA on 29 June 1946, she was placed in the reserve fleet at Olympia, Wash., at 1500 that day. Consolidated Builders purchased the vessel for scrap on 2 February 1948, and she was delivered at 1130 that day to her purchaser by a vessel of the Puget Sound Tug & Barge Company.
Refuge received one battle star for her World War II service, in her participation in the invasion of Southern France (15 August-25 September 1944).
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
31 March 2020