By Jim Dolbow
From the Naval History & Heritage Command’s Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:
(AH-3: dp. 10,102; l. 429’10″; b. 50’2″; dr. 26′; s. 18 k.; cpl. 318; cl. Comfort)
The first Comfort (ex-USAT Havana) was built in 1906 by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa., as Havana; transferred from the War Department 17 July 1917; outfitted at New York Navy Yard by John N. Robins Co., Brooklyn, N.Y.; renamed Comfort 14 March 1918; and commissioned 18 March 1918, Medical Inspector C. M. Oman, USN, commanding.
After serving from 24 July to 5 October 1918 as a floating hospital at New York Comfort joined the Cruiser and Transport Force, Atlantic Fleet to return wounded men from Europe. In three voyages between 21 October 1918 and 13 March 1919 she brought home 1,183 men from France, Britain, and the Azores. She sailed from Charleston 9 June for repairs at Mare Island Navy Yard where she went in ordinary 11 September, and was decommissioned 5 August 1921. She was sold at Mare Island 1 April 1925.
(AH-6: dp. 6,000; l. 417’9″; b. 60′; dr. 27’8″; s. 14 k.; cpl. 233; cl. Comfort)
The second Comfort (AH-6) was launched 18 March 1943 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd., Wilmington, Calif., under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by First Lieutenant E. Hatchitt, USAMC; transferred to the Navy the same day; converted to a hospital ship by Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, Calif.; and commissioned 5 May 1944 with Commander H. F. Fultz in command.
Comfort operated throughout World War II with a Navy crew and Army medical personnel. She sailed from San Pedro, 21 June 1944 for Brisbane, Australia, and Hollandia, New Guinea. Operating from Hollandia the hospital ship evacuated wounded from Leyte, Philippine Islands on two voyages in October and November and then brought patients back to San Pedro, Calif., in December. Returning by way of Leyte, Comfort reached Hollandia 6 February 1945. Following a voyage to Subic Bay and Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, for evacuees in March, the hospital ship stood by off Okinawa from 2 to 9 April, receiving wounded for evacuation to Guam. Returning to Okinawa 23 April, 6 days later she was struck by a Japanese suicide plane which killed 28 persons (including six nurses), and wounded 48 others, and caused considerable damage. After temporary repairs at Guam Comfort sailed for Los Angeles, Calif., arriving 28 May.
Comfort arrived in Subic Bay 5 September 1945 and until 11 October served as station hospital ship. Following a voyage to Okinawa she sailed for home by way of Yokohama, Japan, and Guam, reaching San Pedro, Calif., 11 December. She made another voyage to Manila, Yokohama, Inchon, Korea, and Okinawa between 1 January and 4 March 1946 before being decommissioned at San Francisco 19 April 1946. She was transferred to the Army the same day.
Comfort received two battle stars for World War II service.
The legacy continues with the third ship named COMFORT (T-AH-20)