Solace was built in 1896/7 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. It was initially operated as the SS Creole by the Cromwell Steamship Lines. The ship was acquired by the U.S. Navy on 7 April 1898. It was renamed Solace and converted into a hospital ship. Solace was used extensively during the Spanish American war. After the war she was dry docked and overhauled. She was returned to sea on 1 July 1899 and under the command of Captain Andrew Dunlap. She carried mail, passengers, and provisions from San Francisco to Hawaii, Guam, the Philippine Islands, China, and Japan.