This month marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the first of the famous Victory type standard ships built in US shipyards during the Second World War.
In early 1941, as the prospect of war loomed and to meet the demand for cargo ships, the US developed a wartime emergency cargo ship building programme that produced some 2,700 Liberty ships.
It was soon clear that a bigger and faster ship than the Liberty ship was needed and so the Victory ship was developed. A major part of the design was that the cargo ships and tankers could be used after the war by US shipping companies.
The War Shipping Administration, formed in 1942, commissioned the design of the Victory ship which was built under the Emergency Shipbuilding Programme. It was initially designated EC2-SAP1, but it was then changed to VC2-S-AP1. The name Victory Ship came into official use on Apr 28, 1943. and the cargo ships were given names ending in Victory.
The first of this new class was the United Victory, built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corp, Portland, Oregon. Her keel was laid on Nov 19, 1943, she was launched on Jan 12, 1944, and was delivered just weeks later, on Feb 28. Of 7,677grt, the United Victory was 439.1ft long, 62.1ft in beam and had a depth of 34.5ft. More efficient engines gave the ships a speed of 15-17 knots, up to six knots faster than the Liberty ships.
While orders for 81 were eventually cancelled, 534 of the class were built by six US shipyards:
- Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard Inc, Baltimore, Maryland;
- Bethlehem Steel Corp, Quincy, Mass.;
- California Shipbuilding Corp, Los Angeles, California;
- Kaiser Co, Vancouver, Washington;
- Permanente Metals Corp, Yard No 1 and Yard No 2, Richmond, California;
- Oregon Shipbuilding Corp, Portland, Oregon.
The ships were built as five cargo and three tanker types and came under the ownership of the US Maritime Commission and operated on charter by commercial companies.
The cargo ships were completed as one of the following types: VC-2-AP2; VC-2-AP3; VC-2-AP4; VC-2- AP5; VC2-S1-AP7. The tanker types were: T1; T2; T3.
_auto_generated_thumb_ Today, three fully functioning Victory cargo ships are preserved in the US as museum and memorial ships:
- American Victory: Berthed at Tampa, Florida; she was built by the California Shipbuilding Corp, Los Angeles;
- Lane Victory: Berthed at Los Angeles, California; she was built by the California Shipbuilding Corp at Los Angeles;
- Red Oak Victory: Berthed at Richmond, California; she was built at the Permanente Metals Corp, Yard No 1 at Richmond.
The American Victory was laid down on Mar 30, 1945, launched on May 24 and completed on June 20, a total of 55 days. The ship was classed as a merchant ship and had a civilian crew and a US Navy Armed Guard. She was operated by the American Export Isbrandtsen Lines, of New York, and carried cargo for the US Army.