SS Red Oak Victory Ship

A large ship is anchored next to a concrete dock.
The SS Red Oak Victory Ship in Shipyard No.3. Please note that the ship is not oriented in this way but is now in Berth 5 in the shipyard.

NPS Photo/Luther Bailey

A Historic Jewel of Shipyard No. 3

Access: Explore inside the ship on Sundays. Summer hours are 10am-4pm. Winter hours are 10am-3pm. Viewable from outside on other days.
Location: Richmond Shipyard No. 3
Managed by: The Richmond Museum Association.

The SS Red Oak Victory is a symbol of American maritime history and a testament to the nation's industrial might during World War II. Launched on November 9, 1944, this Victory ship was one of 534 such vessels constructed during the war. Named after the city of Red Oak, Iowa, in honor of the town's significant contributions to the war effort and the lives lost in combat, the SS Red Oak Victory represents the collaborative spirit and dedication of the American home front.

Construction and Specifications

The SS Red Oak Victory was built by the Permanente Metals Corporation in Richmond, California, as part of the United States Maritime Commission's emergency shipbuilding program. This program aimed to produce ships quickly and efficiently to support the Allied war effort. Victory ships were an improvement over the earlier Liberty ships, featuring better speed, larger cargo capacity, and increased durability. The SS Red Oak Victory measures 455 feet in length, has a beam of 62 feet, and a draft of 28 feet. It is powered by a steam turbine engine, enabling it to reach speeds of up to 17 knots.

Role During World War II

During World War II, the SS Red Oak Victory played a crucial role in transporting ammunition and supplies to the Pacific Theater. Its cargo holds were filled with essential materials, including vehicles, ammunition, and food supplies, which were vital for the war effort. The ship's ability to carry a diverse range of cargo made it an invaluable asset, and its contributions significantly supported the United States and Allied forces in achieving victory.

Post-War Service

After the war, the SS Red Oak Victory continued to serve the nation in various capacities. It was decommissioned in 1946 but was later reactivated during the Korean War to provide logistical support. The ship's robust design and versatility allowed it to be used for multiple purposes, including transporting goods and serving as a training vessel for new generations of sailors. The SS Red Oak Victory was eventually retired from active service in 1968 and placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.

Preservation and Legacy

In 1998, the SS Red Oak Victory was saved from being scrapped by the Richmond Museum of History and Culture. The museum undertook a massive restoration project to return the ship to its former glory. Today, the SS Red Oak Victory is permanently berthed at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. It serves as a floating museum and a tribute to the men and women who built and sailed these vital vessels.

Visitors to the SS Red Oak Victory can explore the ship's decks, engine room, and living quarters, gaining a firsthand understanding of the conditions faced by the sailors during wartime. The museum offers guided tours, educational programs, and special events that highlight the ship's history and the broader context of the American home front during World War II. The SS Red Oak Victory stands as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices and achievements of the Greatest Generation and continues to educate and inspire future generations about the importance of preserving our maritime heritage.

Significance in Maritime History

The SS Red Oak Victory is not just a ship; it is a symbol of resilience, ingenuity, and patriotism. It represents the combined efforts of the American people during a time of global conflict and showcases the vital role that the United States Merchant Marine played in securing victory during World War II. The ship's preservation ensures that the legacy of those who built, maintained, and sailed these ships will not be forgotten. As a floating museum, the SS Red Oak Victory provides an invaluable educational resource, offering a tangible connection to the past and a source of inspiration for the future.

The SS Red Oak Victory is a cherished historical artifact, embodying the spirit and determination of the American home front during World War II. Its continued preservation and operation as a museum ship allow it to serve as a living classroom, educating visitors about the significant contributions of the United States Merchant Marine and the broader war effort. The SS Red Oak Victory remains a proud symbol of American maritime heritage and a testament to the enduring legacy of the Victory ships.

Last updated: July 8, 2024

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