Learn about the first hospital ship on record, the Goodwill.
It is believed that the Spanish Armada fleet of 1587-1588 included hospital ships. England's first recorded hospital ship was the Goodwill in 1608, but it was not until after 1660 that the Royal Navy made it a regular practice to set aside ships for hospital use.
The United States Government outfitted six hospital ships, some of which were permanently attached to the fleet, during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Congress authorized the construction of the USS Relief in August 1916. It was launched in 1919 and delivered to the Navy in December 1920.