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Solace I (AH-2)

(AH-2: dp. 5,700; l. 377'; b. 44'0"; dr. 22'; s. 15 k.; cpl. 270; cl. Solace)

The first Solace (AH-2) was built in 1896 and 1897 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Va.; and was operated as the SS Creole by the Cromwell Steamship Lines. The ship was acquired by the United States Navy on 7 April 1898, renamed Solace, and converted into a hospital ship. She was the first Navy ship to fly the Geneva Red Cross flag. Solace was commissioned on 14 April 1898, Comdr. A. Dunlap in command.

The hospital ship was in constant service during the Spanish-American war, returning wounded and ill servicemen from Cuba to Norfolk, New York, and Boston. In February 1899, she sailed for Europe, and she visited ports there, in the Near East, the Far East, and Hawaii, before arriving at Mare Island, Calif., on 27 May, for an overhaul. She returned to sea on 1 July 1899 and, until October 1905, carried mail, passengers, and provisions from San Francisco to Hawaii, Guam, the Philippine Islands, China, and Japan.

Solace was out of commission at the Mare Island Navy Yard from 12 October 1905 until 3 June 1908. Recommissioned on the latter date, the ship voyaged to the Fiji Islands; Samoa; and Magdalena Bay, Mexico, before transiting the Panama Canal, calling at Caribbean ports, and steaming to Charleston, S.C. Solace was decommissioned there from 14 April until 20 November 1909. She joined the Atlantic Fleet on 6 December and served it as a hospital ship at ports along the eastern seaboard of the United States from Newport, R.I., to Key West, Fla. She also operated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; in the Panama Canal Zone; and at other ports in the Caribbean. This routine was broken in October and November 1913 by a five-week voyage to France. She was stationed in New York Harbor at the 82d Street Landing in late December 1918.

On 1 January 1919, Solace was ordered to proceed to the vicinity of Northern Pacific, then aground off Fire Island, N.Y., loaded with wounded veterans returning from France. Solace anchored off Fire Island that night. The next day, heavy seas prevented the transfer of survivors from Northern Pacific to the hospital ship. The seas subsided on the 3d, and small boats began the transfer. Patients were taken on board all of that day and by the time Solace was ready to return to New York on the 4th, she had a total of 504 patients on board even though her berthing facilities could accommodate only about 200. These were used for the seriously wounded while the remainder were put in cots. Solace returned to Hoboken, N.J., that night; and, by 0530 on 5 January, had debarked all of the patients.

After her detachment from the Atlantic Fleet on 1 April 1921, Solace was berthed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was decommissioned on 20 July 1921; struck from the Navy list on 6 August 1930; and sold to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md., on 6 November for scrap.

Published: Thu Sep 10 10:30:07 EDT 2015