[Former hospital corpsman Ted Bobinski of Laguna Niguel, California supplied the information below by loaning a ship’s booklet to The Korean War Educator.] 





U.S.S. Consolation (AH-15) was the first hospital ship to:

  1. Participate in the Korean action
  2. Include a female medical officer on her staff
  3. Return battle casualties to the U.S. from Korea
  4. Utilize an electroencephalograph (brain wave tracing) machine at sea
  5. Install and use a blood bank as standard equipment
  6. Have a flight deck installed
  7. Receive casualties directly from battle field via helicopter




The USS Consolation was commissioned in May 1945.  She had an overall length of 520 feet, a normal displacement of 15,034 tons, and a cruising speed of 17 knots.  The ship could provide medical and surgical care to 786 bed patients.  Her operating rooms, laboratories, and clinics were comparable to those of the most modern hospitals in the entire world, and they were a tribute to the medical and dental professions. 


Her first assignment was to care for the liberated allied prisoners of war at Wakayama, Honshu, Japan, and provide them with transportation to Okinawa.  Despite the strain on her facilities, she treated all with the necessary medical and surgical care and returned them home in greatly improved conditions.  Later, she took part in operation "Magic Carpet," which repatriated thousands of patients and dependents from overseas to the west coast of the United States at the close of World War II. 




The Consolation departed from San Francisco, California, in July 1950, becoming the first American Hospital Ship to arrive in Korea to furnish medical support for United Nations Forces.  She arrived in Pusan, Korea in August 1950, just after the Korean War broke out.  The ship became the major medical facility in Korea, treating patients and evacuating them to Japan. 


From Pusan, the hospital ship was deployed to Inchon to provide support to the invasion there.  From there, the ship traveled to the east coast to receive casualties from Wonsan and Hungnam.  After caring for the wounded from these two campaigns, the ship was selected as the experimental hospital ship to be fitted with a helicopter flight deck to expedite the transportation of wounded to hospital facilities.  The Consolation traveled back to the United States, where a 60-foot by 60-foot landing platform was constructed at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Long Beach, California.  When the work was completed on 16August, 1951, the Consolation returned to the Korean theater of war to resume her mission of medical support. 


In December, 1951, anchored off Sokcho-Ri, 15 miles above the 38th parallel, "Operation Helicopter" began within sight and sound of communist guns on the Korean coast.  On 18 December, 1951, at 12:20 p.m., the first battle casualty ever flown from the field of battle to a hospital ship was landed by a Marine helicopter.  This was the beginning of a mission unprecedented in Naval or Medical history. 


In late March of 1952, when battle action increased on the Korean western front, the Consolation was ordered to Inchon Harbor to furnish medical support to the troops.  Soon after her arrival, the flow of patients began.  By boat and helicopter they came.  Battle casualties were admitted and receiving treatment within minutes of being wounded.  After maintaining a daily patient census of more than 400 for ten weeks, in June of 1952, the Consolation was ordered home for a period of upkeep and replenishment of supplies.  


During her twenty months of Korean duty, the Consolation admitted and treated more than 15,300 patients, with another 20,500 treated as outpatients.  In giving 3,840 transfusions to men wounded in the fighting in Korea, the Consolation used 480 gallons of blood.  At one period, the supply of whole blood reached a dangerously low level.  Only emergency requisitions, delivered by helicopter, enabled the supply to keep up with the rapid rate of use. 




The USS Consolation continued to support UN forces on the Korean peninsula until March 1955, when she was decommissioned and donated to the health foundation.  She was renamed the SS Hope.  This ship provided health care and medical teaching services in several parts of the world under the auspices of "Project Hope."  She was returned to the US Navy in February 1975, and was sold for scrap.


The USS Consolation (AH-15) earned ten Battle Stars for Korean War services. 




For more facts, information, and photographs about the U.S.S. Consolation, visit the official website of its reunion committee at www.usconsolations.homestead.com.  There, site visitors will find the ship’s log, reunion information, organization contacts, photographs, and veterans’ stories.