SS RED OAK VIC­TORY HIS­TORY YOU CAN TOUCH

Diesel World - - Vintage Smoke -

Red Oak Vic­tory was one of 543 Vic­tory ships built for World War II, 142 of them built at Kaiser’s Per­ma­nente Me­tals Cor­po­ra­tion ship­yard in Rich­mond, Cal­i­for­nia, just a stone’s throw from where she lives to­day as a mu­seum ship. The hull was laid down as a VC2-S-AP2 de­sign on Septem­ber 9, 1944. She was launched on Novem­ber 7, and com­mis­sioned into the U.S. Navy as USS Red Oak Vic­tory, AK-235, on De­cem­ber 5. She served as an am­mu­ni­tion ship in the Pa­cific Theater to the end of the war and was de­com­mis­sioned as a Navy ship in 1946.

Still owned by the U.S. Maritime Com­mis­sion, she started a new life in 1947 as the SS Red Oak Vic­tory and was leased to var­i­ous ship­ping com­pa­nies though much of the 1950s be­fore be­ing laid up again in 1957. She last emerged from stor­age in the mid-1960s to be used by the Mil­i­tary Sea Transport Ser­vice from 1966 to ’68 fer­ry­ing mil­i­tary sup­plies from the West Coast to Viet­nam, Ja­pan and the Philip­pines. In 1968 she was placed back in long-term stor­age at the Na­tional De­fense Re­serve Fleet in Suisun Bay, Cal­i­for­nia, and never worked again.

By 1993, like many other ob­so­lete ships in the Re­serve Fleet, Red Oak Vic­tory was fac­ing a fi­nal voy­age to the scrap­per. The Rich­mond Mu­seum As­so­ci­a­tion un­der­stood her sig­nif­i­cance and sought to have her saved as a mu­seum ship. In 1996, Congress passed leg­is­la­tion turn­ing her over to the Rich­mond Mu­seum of His­tory. In 1998, she was moved to the Rich­mond wa­ter­front and has been un­der­go­ing a grad­ual restora­tion ever since.

Red Oak Vic­tory is 455 feet long, 62 feet wide, and draws 29 feet of wa­ter with a full 10,850-ton load. Power comes from a 6,000hp West­ing­house steam tur­bine fed by two Bab­cock & Wil­cox boil­ers that pro­duce 525 psi steam pres­sure at 750 de­grees. Nor­mal top speed was 15.5 knots (17.8 mph), but ac­cord­ing to her cur­rent Chief En­gi­neer she could be boosted to 17 knots with a few tweaks. When she car­ried weaponry, she had a 5-inch/38-cal­iber dual-pur­pose gun on the stern, a 3-inch/50-cal­iber dual-pur­pose gun on the bow, and eight 20mm anti-air­craft auto can­nons in var­i­ous mounts around the ship.

Be­cause she spent a rel­a­tively short time in op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to Chief En­gi­neer Greg Blasquez, Red Oak Vic­tory is in great me­chan­i­cal con­di­tion and is now near to be­ing ready to sail again. Though there are no Vic­tory ships known to still be in com­mer­cial ser­vice, some of Red Oak Vic­tory’s sis­ter ships are sail­ing as mu­seum ships, in­clud­ing the Lane Vic­tory in Los An­ge­les and the Amer­i­can Vic­tory in Tampa, Florida. Red Oak Vic­tory is open to vis­i­tors at her berth on Point Potrero at 1337 Canal Street, Rich­mond, Cal­i­for­nia, very near the Rosie the Riveter Mu­seum and the old Rich­mond Ford Fac­tory.

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