USS Antaeus (AG-67)

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USS Antaeus AS-21.jpg
Antaeus (AS-21), wearing her full designator on her bow, underway in the Delaware River, off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, 25 June 1943
Career (USA) 100x35px
Name: USS Antaeus
Namesake: The son of Neptune, the god of the sea in Roman mythology
Ordered: as SS Saint John (date unknown)
Laid down: 9 January 1932
Acquired: by the Navy, 24 April 1941
Commissioned: 17 May 1941 as USS Antaeus (AS-21)
Decommissioned: 29 April 1946 as USS Rescue (AH-18)
Reclassified: AG-67, 15 September 1943; USS Rescue (AH-18), 18 January 1945
Refit: Converted to a Hospital Ship at New York Navy Yard
Struck: 15 August 1946
Honours and
two battle stars for her World War II service
Fate: transferred to the U.S. Maritime Commission for disposal, 29 June 1946
Notes: scrapped in 1959
General characteristics
Type: commercial passenger liner
Displacement: 8,350 tons
Length: 403'
Beam: 61'
Draft: 20'
Propulsion: geared turbine, twin screws, 13,000hp
Speed: 20 knots
Complement: 440 as a hospital ship
Armament: one 4"/50 gun mount aft; two 3"/23 gun mounts forward; upgraded to one 4"/50 gun mount aft; four 3"/50 gun mounts, two forward, two aft

USS Antaeus (AS-21/AG-67) – later renamed USS Rescue (AH-18) – was a commercial passenger liner acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II and named USS Antaeus. She was initially intended to be employed as a submarine tender; however she was modified and used as a transport for troops from 1942 to 1944. In 1945 she was commissioned as a hospital ship, renamed USS Rescue, and played an important part in 1945 supporting Pacific Ocean attack and then liberation operations.

Built in Virginia

St. John was built in 1932 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia; operated as a passenger liner by the Eastern Steam Ship Company; acquired by the Navy on 24 April 1941; renamed Antaeus (AS-21): and placed in commission on 17 May 1941, Comdr. R. S. Morse in command.

World War II service

Operations as USS Antaeus

Following her commissioning, the submarine tender operated in the Caribbean. She took part in training exercises and made repairs to the American submarines patrolling in those waters. Antaeus finished this task in September 1942, when she was assigned to transport duties and was redesignated AG-67. The ship then began shuttling troops to points in the Caribbean, the Panama Canal Zone, and to Argentia, Newfoundland, from bases at New York City and Davisville, Rhode Island.

Conversion to hospital ship USS Rescue

Antaeus entered the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, on 28 December 1944. There, she underwent conversion to a hospital ship. On 18 January 1945, the vessel was renamed Rescue and redesignated (AH-18). Following a period of sea trials, the new hospital ship got underway for the Pacific Ocean theater of action.

She arrived off Okinawa on 13 June, embarked men wounded in the fighting ashore, survived unscathed despite almost constant Japanese air attack against Allied shipping in the area, and safely delivered her patients to a hospital on Guam.

With a bed capacity of 792 and a complement of 440, Rescue provided hospital services, consultation, preventative medicine, and casualty evacuation.

After a short upkeep period, Rescue joined the U.S. 3d Fleet on 5 July. She supported 3d Fleet ships conducting carrier strikes and bombardment of the Japanese home islands. The ship would rendezvous with the combatant vessels and take on casualties by breeches buoy both at night and under battle conditions. Upon the conclusion of World War II, Rescue sailed into Tokyo Bay with the 3d Fleet and began the medical screening of Allied prisoners of war and shuttling them from various prison camps to the base at Yokohama.

Post-war activity

In late September, the ship arrived at Guam where she discharged a few former prisoners whose home had been on that island. Rescue then proceeded to San Francisco, California. She was decommissioned on 29 June 1946 and was transferred to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Her name was struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1946. The vessel was subsequently refitted as a merchant ship and saw service as such from 1946 into 1959, in which year she was scrapped.

Honors and awards

Rescue earned two battle stars for her World War II service:

  • Okinawa Gunto operation
  • 3d Fleet operations against Japan

See also


pl:USS Rescue (AH-18)