"Service to other vessels," the USS Medusa's commanding officer asserted in 1939, "is the only justification for [this ship's] existence." History validates the assertion because the Medusa was the Navy's first vessel designed from the keel up as a repair ship.
Perpetuating the name of a Civil War ironclad, the Medusa was authorized during the "War to End All Wars." She was an all-Navy project—designed by the Navy Department and built at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington. The vessel would ultimately be part of the largest naval force the world had ever seen and serve more than two decades in the Navy.
Prior to the Medusa, afloat fleet repair had been the province of auxiliaries converted for that purpose, and her designers envisioned a plant at least equaling that on board the Vestal (Repair Ship No. 4), a predecessor that had been converted from a collier. As the U.S. Fleet grew in size during World War I and became a true two-ocean Navy, the need for another repair ship, designed as such from the keel up, became a necessity.