Ernest Hinds With Skyline

February 14th, 2012, 12:00H · Topics: Around Town, Navy · Print

Built in 1918 this ship was designed as a passenger liner but was taken by the Navy for use during WW I for troop transport and named the USS Santa Teresa.  After the war it was returned to it’s owners and operated commercially for the next 20 years as the SS Santa Teresa and then as the SS Kent.  The Army purchased the ship in 1941 and then renamed it the Ernest Hinds, converting it back to a troop ship.  It was then transferred to the Navy and was operated as the USS Kent.  After less than a year it was returned to the Army, again taking the name Ernest Hinds.  It functioned as a a transport ship in the Pacific until it was converted to a hospital ship in 1944 operating in this role just over a year before again returning to use as a transport ship until it was turned over to the U.S. Public Health Service in July of 1946.  This is when it found it’s way to Jacksonville where it served as a floating “Isolation Ward”.

More to the point, the ship spent the next 7 months tied up near where the CSX building stands today as a 500 bed inpatient facility for patients undergoing a 9 day venereal disease treatment regime.  It was one of three rapid treatment facilities in Florida replacing a facility near Ocala that was destroyed by fire.  Apparently at this point in history Florida sometimes led the nation in VD rates, credited to a combination of a large military population, tourists and the homeless taking advantage of the warm winter climate and a large number of migrant workers.  The projected case load for the hospital ship was to be 12,000 patients a year but the Jacksonville deployment was cut short due to a lack of funds, seeing it’s last patients in February of 1947.

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More