World War 2 was a global conflict like no other. The vast distances required to transport war materials required newer state of the art ships. The Victory Ship would be America’s answer to the war effort’s shipping problem. Victory Ships replaced the aging fleet of Liberty Ships. Up until the introduction of the Victory Ship, the Liberty Ship reigned as America’s premier cargo vessel. There were over 2700 Liberty Ships built during the war but the Victory Ships would have a longer range, faster speed, and simpler design which allowed for faster construction.
The increased speed of the Victory Ships not only allowed the vessels to reach their destinations faster, this also helped the ships evade German submarines. A faster ship makes a much more difficult target for German U-Boats. Throughout World War 2, it was imperative that as many vessels crossed the Atlantic as possible. Each Victory Ship that crossed the Atlantic had the capability of carrying over 10,000 tons of war material. Some of these ships were also converted to troop carriers, an even more important cargo which required safe passage across the Atlantic Ocean. These ships usually consisted of a 62 person crew made up of both Merchant Marines and U.S. Coast Guardsmen.
Before the war ended, over 500 ships were built for the war effort. Some of these vessels are still around. There are 3 victory ship museums; The SS American Victory in Tampa Florida; the SS Lane Victory in Los Angeles California; and the SS Red Oak in Richmond California. The SS American Victory in Tampa is amazingly still fully operational. A few times a year, visitors to the ship can cruise around Tampa Bay and experience World War 2 maritime life. The fact these ships are still afloat is a testament to their amazing design and construction.