Thursday, March 31, 2016

SS American Victory

This steamship memorial museum is parked in the port of Tampa Bay.  We have not seen a merchant marine ship as yet, and found that touring this one proved quite interesting.  In 1938 Franklin Delano Roosevelt had ordered to be designed and constructed thousands of liberty ships similar to this one.  During World War ll   there were 535 victory ships.  Of course, merchant marine ships had been around long before this, they date back to the Revolutionary War.
The ship pictured above was built and launched in 1945.  Its first mission to the Pacific Ocean was cancelled, however it transported relief supplies for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to help rebuild Europe after the War.  Pictured below is number two of the 5 cargo holds that are in this ship.  There is a "roof" (hatch cover) above this bay whereby the cargo can be unloaded by masts and booms.
The ship was laid up for awhile from 1947 to 1950 in the Hudson River.  Then it was called up to support the Korean War, hauling mostly ordinance into Japan.  On its return trip home it carried a number of servicemen killed during that war. The ship was laid up again in 1954 and then came out during the Vietnam War to haul military cargo.  That was the last war this ship served.  In 1999 it was hauled to Tampa Bay to serve as a museum.  It is still capable of getting underway and makes two trips a year in Tampa Bay.
It was interesting for us to see the radio control room (pictured above) as well as the wheel house.  Our maritime technology has certainly made great strides in the past 70 years!  A veteran of the Merchant Marines, as well as the Navy, gave us a look into the engine room where large steam pipes deliver the power to turn the turbines and propellers of the ship.  He noted that there is no air conditioning on the ship, the crew sometimes had to endure temperatures of 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit  aboard ship.  He also noted that the crew numbered about 40 men and 20 armed guards.  By the way, there is a Merchant Marine Academy in St.Petersburg where 25,000 merchant mariners have trained.  Another interesting fact is that this civilian crew has had a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. military services. 
Our guide also informed us that the large cruise ship parked next to the SS American Victory is from Germany.  He has gotten to know some of its crew, and they gave him a tour of the ship.  Interestingly enough, he had to show his passport before going on board!

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