At the north end of the San Francisco Bay is the City of Richmond. In World War II, massive shipyards run by the Kaiser company filled the shoreline of Richmond and some other ares in the bay. Here Kaiser built the Liberty Ships and Victory ships that the country needed to move material and men around the world. The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park celebrates this history.
The Red Oak Victory Ship is one of only 3 victory ships that still exist. 534 Victory Ships and 2,710 Liberty ships were built in Word War II. For the Liberty ships, the first ships required as many as 244 days to build, but the average eventually dropped to 42 days per ship. At one point the Kaiser shipyards were launching a ship a day.
The Red Oak was one of a series of Victory ships that were named after small U.S. towns (Battleships were named for states and Cruisers for large cities). The Red Oak was named afterÂ Red Oak, Iowa whichÂ suffered more losses per capita than any other American community in the war.
The Red Oak continued to server the U.S. Navy through Korea and Vietnam. The mess porthole covers were added during Vietnam to prevent the Viet Cong from tossing a grenade into the ship.
Most Liberty Ships and Victory ships carried general cargo or occasionally troops. The Red Oak was specifically commissioned to carry ammunition.
South Korea has made numerous attempts to buy the Red Oak or one of the few other existing Victory ships because of the history of the sister ship theÂ S.S. Meredith Victory. Â During the early days of the Korean Conflict the Meredith, which was made to hold a crew of 12, evacuating 14,000 refugees from the oncoming North Korean army. A monument to theÂ Â S.S. Meredith Victory has been built in South Korea.
Some of the docents at the Red Oak Victory served on the ship. The ship only had one mission in World War II as it sailed to the island ofÂ Ulithi in theÂ Caroline Islands. The chart roomÂ has a chart of the massive fleet that waited atÂ Ulithi for the orders to invade the home islands of Japan.
The ship also had instructions of what to do in case of an atomic attack. Oddly enough they were not “Panic!”.
When you visit the Red Oak plan time also to visit the visitor center of theÂ The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park as well as theÂ Rosie the Riveter memorial.
see more photos of the Red Oak Victory Ship