Repose was given a name in keeping with the mission of hospital ships.
(AH-16: displacement 11,141; length 520'; beam 71'6"; draft 24' (limiting); speed 18.7 knots; complement 564; class Haven; type C4-S-B2)
Marine Beaver was laid down on 22 October 1943 at Chester, Pa., by the Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 747); launched on 8 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Pauline P. McIntire, wife of Vice Adm. Ross T. McIntire, Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; and acquired and placed in service on 14 September 1944 for transportation to her conversion yard, Bethlehem Steel Co., Shipbuilding Division, 56th Street Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y. Upon completion of her conversion to Navy use, she was commissioned on 26 May 1945, Capt. W. O. Britten in command.
The same day Repose shifted berths to take on stores, and on 31 May 1945 she completed fitting out at Bayonne, N.J. Tests and drills commenced on 1 June in Long Island Sound, and on 3 June Repose put into the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, to take on additional stores. Sailing for Norfolk, Va., on 6 June, she underwent shakedown off the Virginia coast. She departed Norfolk on 8 July, transited the Panama Canal, and steamed for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 15 July, arriving on the 29th.
Repose embarked 700 patients at Pearl Harbor on 7 August 1945 for transport to San Francisco, Calif., where the ship called (15-24 August). Then, scheduled to steam for the Philippines via Honolulu, she was diverted to Okinawa, arriving at Buckner Bay on 15 September. The next day she stood out of the harbor to ride out a typhoon.
Following a week at anchor in Buckner Bay, Repose steamed for the Philippines, but two days out she was diverted to Shanghai, China. From 30 September 1945 through 10 March 1946, she operated at Shanghai as a base hospital, attached to Service Squadron 10.
Ordered to Tsingtao, China, on 10 March 1946, she arrived the following day, and then returned to Shanghai on the 18th, where she remained until 15 October 1946. A 1 November arrival in San Francisco brought leave and upkeep through 5 February 1947. Repose then sailed for Yokosuka, Japan, arriving on the 14th. Shifting to Tsingtao on 1 March, she served as a base hospital into September 1948.
Repose remained in Asian waters until 5 July 1949, when she set course for the west coast. Arriving at Long Beach on 27 July, she shifted to San Francisco in the first week of September. Assigned to the San Francisco group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, she commenced inactivation on 28 October 1949, and was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 19 January 1950.
The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, however, created a desperate need for hospital ships. Consequently, Repose was transferred to the Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, on 20 July 1950 and ordered activated at the earliest possible date. She was delivered to and accepted by the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), Pacific, on 26 August 1950. Five days later, Commander MSTS received authorization to operate the ship with a civilian crew. She sailed for Yokohama, Japan, on 2 September 1950, and arrived on the 16th. There a Navy crew embarked, and the next day she steamed for Pusan, Korea, arriving on the 20th.
She served there as a station hospital through 26 October 1950, then departed for Yokohama with 189 patients. Shifting to Yokosuka, she was recommissioned on the 28th, Capt. Charles H. Perdue in command, and Capt. Edwin B. Coyl, MC, as senior medical officer.
Returning to Korea on 13 November 1950, Repose served at Inchon, Chinnampo, and Pusan before transporting 301 patients to Yokohama, Japan. There she underwent availability through 5 February 1951, then returned to Korea, where she provided hospital services between Korean and Japanese ports.
Repose departed Yokosuka on 22 January 1952, touching at Pearl Harbor en route to the west coast. A call at San Diego on 11 February was followed by overhaul and installation of a helicopter platform aft, at Long Beach. Sea trials were completed on 23 April, followed by departure from San Diego for the Far East a month later. Standing into Inchon Harbor on 24 June, Repose commenced receiving patients the same day. She was joined on 22 July by sister ship Haven (AH-12).
Following a period of patient transfer operations between Korean and Japanese ports, Repose sailed on 14 February 1953 for San Francisco, arriving there on 6 March. Transferring to Craig Shipbuilding Co., Long Beach, on 2 April, she underwent repairs through 12 May, steamed for Pearl Harbor five days later, thence to Yokosuka, arriving there on 5 June.
Operations in Korean waters recommenced on 14 June 1953 when Repose again took station at Inchon. Several patient transfer runs to Japan were climaxed by a return to home via Pearl Harbor. Touching at San Diego on 11 February 1954, she then entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard (28 April-1 September).
Arriving at San Francisco on 2 September 1954, Repose was transferred on 27 September 1954 to the Naval Reserve Fleet, San Francisco Group. She was decommissioned at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on 21 December 1954, four days before Christmas.
The Navy delivered Repose to the custody of the Maritime Administration (MarAd) Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, Calif., at 1315 on 12 December 1961. Less than a year later, MarAd permanently transferred the vessel to the Reserve Fleet at 1201 on 1 September 1962. Eight months later, however, Repose went back to the Navy in a permanent transfer at 1730 on 17 June 1965.
Activated and towed to Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, then to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, Repose was recommissioned there on 16 October 1965, Capt. Eugene H. Maher in command, and Capt. Paul R. Engle, MC, senior medical officer.
Repose departed San Francisco on 3 January 1966, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 9 January for underway training. She then set course for Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, arriving on 3 February to take on supplies and to accomplish voyage repairs. Sailing on 14 February for Vietnam, she arrived two days later and commenced medical support off Chu Lai.
Living up to her nickname, “Angel of the Orient,” Repose was permanently deployed to Southeast Asia from October 1966. The 721-bed floating hospital operated mainly in the I Corps Area, which included Da Nang, Chu Lai, Phu Bai, Dong Ha, and Quang Tri. After treating more than 9,000 battle casualties and admitting over 24,000 patients for inpatient care in Southeast Asian waters, Repose departed Vietnam on 14 March 1970 for the U.S., where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve in May 1970.
Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 March 1974, ex-Repose was delivered by the Navy to MarAd custody at Suisun Bay on 3 June 1974. The following spring, the Navy, in a permanent transfer agreement, delivered the vessel to MarAd on 18 April 1975. That same day, the Nicolai Joffe Corp. purchased her for scrap, and less than a month later, took possession of the ship, which was withdrawn from the Reserve Fleet for the final time.
Repose received nine battle stars for her Korean War service and nine for her Vietnam service.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
2 April 2020