From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
The son of Neptune, the god of the sea in Roman mythology.
St. John was built in 1932 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. Newport News, Va.; operated as a passenger liner by the Eastern Steam Ship Co.; 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.
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 Canal Zone, and to Argentia, Newfoundland, from bases at New York City and Davisville, R.I..
Antaeus entered the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., 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 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.
After a short upkeep period, Rescue joined the 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.
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, CAEL She was decommissioned on 29 June 1946 and was transferred to the 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.
Rescue earned two battle stars for her World War II service.