Red Oak Victory
WW2 Victory (VC2) Cargo Ship

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Photography
by
Rob Mackie
Richmond, California
May 1999
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A product of the  Kaiser Permanente yards in Richmond, California, Red Oak Victory was laid down 9 September 1944 and commissioned barely three(!) months later on 5 December. She was one of 534 WW2 era Victory ships built in US yards using mass production techniques. Based on the VC2 merchant hull, Victory ships were more modern designs than the Liberty ships also mass-produced in US yards (click Liberty Ship S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien to view my Liberty Ship photo tour). They were faster (15 knots vs 11 knots for the Liberty), larger and used  steam turbine technology rather than the outmoded triple expansion reciprocating steam engines powering liberty ships. They were also stronger. Their more modern hull was designed to avoid the fractures afflicting some Liberty hulls.

Many Victory ships saw post WW2 service. Used as an ammunition carrier during the latter stages of the Pacific war, Red Oak Victory also saw service as a civilian-manned transport during both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Mothballed since 1968 at Suisun Bay north of San Francisco, preservationists returned her to Richmond, California two years ago. The Richmond Kaiser Yards launched 747 ships during WW2. The Red Oak Victory was among the last of them and it is intended that she be a monument to this remarkable achievement.

Red Oak Victory
AK-235

Vital Statistics
Hull Type: VC2-S-AP2
Displacement: 4,480 tons empty, 15,580 tons full load
Length: 455'3"  Beam: 62'  Draft: 28'6"
Engine Type: Cross compound steam turbine (6,000 or 8,500 HP)

Top Speed: 15 knots
Armament: one 5"/38 on stern, one 3"/50 on bow, eight 20mm Oerlikons

The restoration is ongoing. Do not be misled by the Red Oak Victory's rusted outer appearance. Thirty years of salt air will do that. But the US Navy knows how to preserve ships. Her living spaces, engine room and all other interior spaces are in excellent condition. External scraping and painting are the order of the day, and San Francisco Bay Area residents wishing to help out should visit the ship, now moored at Pt. Richmond.

I live ten minutes from the Red Oak Victory. I will periodically photograph so that we all can share in the restoration process. Hats off to those hardworking folks bringing this Victory ship back to life.

 Click thumbnail image to view full size picture

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