When USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) docked at the Los Angeles Cruise Center in the shadow of the Vincent Thomas Bridge,
In many ways she was returning home.
Just north of the bridge, at the current site of the Trapac Container Facility in the West Basin of the Port of Los Angeles, once stood the Consolidated Steel Corporation.
At its peak, it employed 12,000 people. On 29 May 1942,
Consolidated Steel received a contract from the US Maritime Commission to build eight C1-B-class freighters in their Wilmington yard.
A month later the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the Navy to acquire three ships to be operated by them for the Army, for the evacuation of sick and wounded from overseas.
Two of the hulls, Nos. 1021 and 1022, along with one from an earlier contract under construction at the neighboring facility in Long Beach,
Were designated for conversion into hospital ships.
On 25 March 1943, hull 1022 hit the water, christened by Lieutenant (junior grade) Doris M. Yetter, US Navy Nurse Corps, who had been captured on Guam in 1941.
The ship lacked a superstructure, and the incomplete hull was towed across to the present site of the West Basin Container Terminal. Back then, it was the Los Angeles Shipyard.
On 7 August 1944, the newly commissioned USS Mercy (AH-8) joined the fleet. Both Comfort and Mercy,
Along with their other sister ship, USS Hope (AH-7), served during the latter part of the Pacific War, specifically in the Philippines and Okinawa campaigns.
Although operated by the Naval Transport Service, the ships embarked Army medical staffs.
They were designed to load patients after treatment from primary care facilities and then deliver them to shore facilities away from the front lines.
Both Comfort and Mercy arrived off the beaches of Leyte, shortly after the landings.
Mercy shuttled between the Philippines and shore hospitals in Manus and Hollandia.
Comfort operated to the latter and included one trip all the way back to the West Coast of the United States.
On her initial voyage, she was attacked by a Japanese aircraft during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but escaped damage.
The two ships supported Army operations in the Philippines until the Spring of 1945,
When they were attached to the 5th Fleet for the invasion of Okinawa.
Both would shuttle wounded from the front to the Marianas.
While Mercy completed three voyages, Comfort only accomplished one, but it proved deadly.
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