USS Consolation AH-15 (1945-1955)
The USS Consolation was a Haven-class ship that was awarded ten battle stars for service in the Korean War. After being laid down in Pennsylvania, the USS Consolation was originally launched as the Marine Walrus in August of 1944. It was acquired by the Navy later that month and converted to a hospital ship in New Jersey. The Consolation was commissioned in May of 1945.
In July of 1945, Commander P. S. Tambling led the ship from the east coast of the U.S. to Honshu. The Consolation arrived in Japan on September 11th and commenced duty as a screening station and field hospital. Its first patients were former prisoners of war. Within just four days, the hospital ship had taken on 1,062 men. It moved its patients to Okinawa for transfer to the U.S. and then returned to Honshu to support the 5th Fleet. However, it returned to Okinawa in mid-October to treat casualties of a typhoon.
The USS Consolation next sailed to central Honshu to serve as a station hospital for the 5th and 6th Fleets. After a late November overhaul, it was operational again by December 6, 1945. From then until February 3, 1946 it transported patients and other troops between the California coast and Pearl Harbor.
The ship arrived in Norfolk, Virginia on March 3, 1946. From March 25th until October 21st, it transferred patients from the Panama Canal area to New York. It then engaged in occasional fleet exercises until the onset of the Korean War.
Service in the Korean War
The USS Consolation left Virginia in mid-July of 1950 and arrived in Korea on August 16th to provide medical aid to Allied forces. The crew also helped establish medical installations for the Koreans. It then sailed for San Diego in May of 1951, arriving on June 6th for a general overhaul and receipt of a helicopter landing platform.
The Consolation steamed back to Korea in time for Operation Helicopter on December 18th. For the first time, helicopters were used to evacuate casualties from battle and onto a hospital ship.
The ship remained primarily in Korean waters until peace was declared. It then cared for wounded Korean civilians and UN troops until 1955, stopping briefly for the Passage to Freedom operation, which evacuated citizens of North Vietnam. It was decommissioned in December 1955. The ship was later renamed the Hope and chartered by People to People Health Foundation.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.