Red Oak Victory Ship – Home Front National Historical Park, California

categories: USA Travel

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.

Red Oak Victory Ship

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.

Red Oak Victory Ship Red Oak Victory Ship


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 after Red Oak, Iowa which suffered more losses per capita than any other American community in the war.

Red Oak Victory ShipsRed Oak Victory Ship



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.

Red Oak Victory Ship


Red Oak Victory Ship Infirmary

Most Liberty Ships and Victory ships carried general cargo or occasionally troops. The Red Oak was specifically commissioned to carry ammunition.

Red Oak Victory Ship

Red Oak Victory Ship

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 the S.S. Meredith Victory.  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 the  S.S. Meredith Victory has been built in South Korea.

Red Oak Victory

Red Oak Victory Ship

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 of Ulithi in the Caroline Islands. The chart room has a chart of the massive fleet that waited at Ulithi for the orders to invade the home islands of Japan.

Red Oak Victory Ship Chart Room Atomic Attack Instructions

The ship also had instructions of what to do in case of an atomic attack. Oddly enough they were not “Panic!”.

Red Oak Victory Ship Bridge Red Oak Victory Ship Hatch

When you visit the Red Oak plan time also to visit the visitor center of the The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park as well as the Rosie the Riveter memorial.

see more photos of the Red Oak Victory Ship


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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

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