The USS Repose (pictured below) operated alongside her sister ship, the USS Sanctuary, during the Vietnam War to establish a probability-of-survival rate of 98 percent. The two U.S. Navy hospital ships often provided care 20 to 30 minutes after a casualty occurred on the battlefield.


The Repose had a capacity of 560 beds and under emergency conditions could hold 750 patients. Aboard the Repose was a medical staff of 325, three operating rooms equipped for everything from brain surgery to corneal transplants, a hyperbaric chamber for diving and aviation incidents, and units for the care of civilians.



A Navy Nurse offers a word of encouragement to a patient about to leave the ship for further treatment in the United States, October 1967. The USS Repose was then operating in the South China Sea, a few miles south of the Seventeenth Parallel off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam.

Photographed by JOC R.D. Moeser/National Archives


The primary function of the USS Repose was to provide maximum medical care in support of military operations, but the Repose and the USS Sanctuary were to provide, to the best of their abilities, medical care for civilians. Physical therapy services and pediatric and obstetrical care (above) also were provided.