Class: VC2-AP2 Victory Ship
Launched: May 31, 1945
At: California Shipbuilding Corp., Los Angeles, California
Length: 455 feet
Beam: 62 feet
Draft: 28 feet
Displacement: 10,750 tons
Armament: One 5-inch/38 caliber gun; one 3-inch/50 caliber gun, and eight 20 mm guns
She was born on the LA Waterfront and today she’s a great part of its history, the SS Lane Victory, a Victory class ship that was built in 1945 in San Pedro. The ship served in World War II, Korean, and Vietnam and as a national merchant carrier during the interwar periods.
S.S. Lane Victory began her first wartime journey on June 27, 1945, in the closing stages of World War II. United States Merchant Mariners operated the ship. The United States Navy Armed Guard, who manned the ship’s guns, worked as signalmen and radiomen. She made two Pacific cruises, beginning July 10, 1945 to Manus Island, and the second starting August 30, 1945 to Guam, Saipan and Hawaii. The trip to Guam was to bring food to the island. On the way, Lane Victory sailed through a typhoon and was tossed around for 14 days and managed to survive. With the end of World War II, she started shipping aid and began delivering goods to Europe under the Marshall Plan. With the end of the aid plan, on May 11, 1948 Lane Victory was laid up at Suisun Bay, California.
In 1950 Lane Victory was taken out of storage and was back in service. She was then deployed to evacuate Korean civilians and United Nations personnel at Wonsan, North Korea. During December 1950 she evacuated over 3,800 U.S. troops and 1,100 vehicles from Hungnam while under attack during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Lane Victory offloaded troops, vehicles and cargo as the cruiser USS Saint Paul and destroyers laid down a covering fire. After unloading she evacuated 7,009 men, women and children, taking them south to safety. When the ship arrived 7,010 passengers disembarked, as a baby had been born during the voyage. On October 10, 1953 she was again laid up in Suisun Bay, California storage. An annual Korean War tribute day is held aboard SS Lane Victory in honor of those saved.
In 1966 the ship was restored to duty again for the Vietnam War. She also saw duty during the conflict moving ammunition and supplies to and from the war zone in Vietnam. On April 29, 1970 Lane Victory was laid up again at Suisun Bay for storage in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
Volunteers of the United States Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II have now spent countless hours of restoration to return her to her original condition. She became a fixture on San Pedro’s waterfront in 1990. But the ongoing work to restore it hasn’t been cheap or easy. The ship currently is undergoing a boiler tube replacement project that cost $747,000. And it is required to be put in dry dock every five years, an expense of about $1.5 million
The Lane Victory used to take three cruises a year to Catalina, providing a 1940s experience complete with vintage planes overhead, but the needed boiler room repairs have sidelined it. She hopes to hit the open waters again one day when the repairs are complete.
A nationally recognized historic landmark, the S.S. Lane Victory now serves as a living museum and memorial to the service and sacrifices of all Merchant Marine sailors and Navy Armed Guardsmen.
She has also been used as a set for many motion pictures and television productions many of which you can find listed here.