SS Pratt Victory

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Typical Victory Ship.
United States
Name: SS Pratt Victory
Namesake: Pratt Institute
Owner: War Shipping Administration
Operator: Waterman SS Company
Builder: California Shipbuilding (Calship)
Yard number: 272
Laid down: February 22, 1945
Launched: April 14, 1945
Acquired: May 9, 1945
In service: 1945
Fate: sold 1961
United States
Name: SS Portland Victory 1961
Namesake: Portland
Owner: West Coast Steamship Company
Operator: West Coast Steamship Company
Fate: sold 1965
United States
Name: SS Columbia Victory 1965
Namesake: Portland
Owner: Saxis Steamship Company
Operator: Saxis Steamship Company
Fate: sold 1968
United States
Name: SS Columbia Trader 1968
Owner: Columbia SS Company
Operator: Columbia SS Company
Fate: 1971 damaged, scrapped 1972 in Taiwan
General characteristics
Class and type: VC2-S-AP2 Victory Ship
Tonnage: 10,750 long tons deadweight (DWT)
Length: 455 ft (139 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draft: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
Speed: 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph)
Range: 23,500 mi (20,400 nmi; 37,800 km)
Capacity: 500,000 cu ft (14,000 m3) (approximate)
Complement: 62 United States Merchant Marine and United States Navy Armed Guard

SS Pratt Victory was a Victory ship which serviced in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the last few months of World War II in the Pacific War. The ship’s United States Maritime Commission designation was VC2- S- AP3, hull number 782 (V-782). SS Pratt Victory served in the Pacific Ocean during WW2, it was named after Pratt Institute in New York City, the ship was built at the California Shipbuilding Yard (Calship) in Los Angeles, California and was delivered on May 9, 1945. SS Pratt Victory was 782th of the new 10,500-ton class ship to be known as Victory ships. SS Pratt Victory was built in just 76 days under the Emergency Shipbuilding program. Victory ships were designed to replace the earlier Liberty Ships. Liberty ships were designed to be used just for World War II. Victory ships were designed to last longer and serve the US Navy after the war, the Victory ship differed from a Liberty ship in that it was faster, longer, wider, taller, and had a thinner stack set farther toward the superstructure and had a long raised forecastle.[1][2][3]

World War II[edit]

SS Pratt Victory delivered supplies to troops and ships in the island-hopping campaigns towards the Empire of Japan, she served as a United States Merchant Marine ship operated by the Waterman SS Company. As a Merchant Marine ship, she had two crews a civilian crew to man the ship and United States Navy Armed Guards to man the deck guns.

The Pratt Victory was torpedoed on her starboard side into the number 2 cargo hold on 27 July 1945. Pratt Victory was south of Ie Shima island near Ryukyu Islands, near Okinawa Island when the aerial torpedo hit her.[4][5] The torpedo sank the tank landing craft LCT-1050 that was being supplied by the Pratt Victory. LCT-1050 was later raised and salvaged.[6] The torpedo did not kill any of the Pratt Victory crew, the Pratt Victory was able deliver the remaining cargo in the remaining good holds.[7] At the time of the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945, the damage to the Pratt Victory was not completely repaired. One of her cargo holds remained flooded due to the torpedo hole. A metal patch was placed on the torpedo hole, but only above the water line, with one hold flooded Pratt Victory could not make her normal top speed of 17.5 knots, but she was still as fast as a liberty ship at 11 knots. She was transferred from the United States Merchant Marine to the US Navy for a special assignment.

After the surrender of Japan the SS Pratt Victory served has what was called the Guinea Pig Squadron, the Guinea Pig Ships steamed the sea where mines were laid to make certain that the explosives laid there were no longer a menace to American and other ships. Pratt Victory streamed the Pacific looking for pressure naval mines that had been laid by the US Navy. Pressure mines, unlike magnetically- or acoustically-activated mines, were designed to detonate by a large change in the water pressure, like that of large (8,000 to 10,000 tons) ship passing by, they were thus difficult to sweep. Preparing for the US invasion of Japan, the US Navy laid pressure mines in bays and sea ways of Japan. Pressure mines were designed to stop working over time, as US ships planned to be near Japan later for the invasion of Japan, called Operation Downfall. Many of the pressure mines were laid from the air by Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

SS Joseph Holt, a liberty ship, and the SS Marathon, a former troop transport, also served in the Guinea Pig Squadron. The three ships streamed about 150 yards apart in the sea ways near Japan. Pratt Victory streamed with her cargo holds empty so she would float high in the water. The crew was small, about 22 men, as there was no need to load and unload her. Due to the small crew size she was also called a ghost ship, despite not being a true ghost ship, the crew were all volunteers as this was a very dangerous assignment. The Pratt Victory has been modified with remote controls for the engines and boilers so no one had to be below the deck, a flooding risk.

The SS Marathon also had torpedo damage from attack at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, the Joseph Holt had minor damage from a grounding at Buckner Bay due to a typhoon. All three ships completed the hunt for mines without detonate a mine, the decks and operation rooms of the ship had been lined with mattresses to offer some help if a mine detonated. But, the US Navy minesweepers had cleared the sea way completely and many of the mines had stopped working as planned.[8][9]

The volunteer crew were awarded several medals: The Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Bronze Star. Semon Leroy Teague, who served on the Pratt Victory, received the Bronze Star, with a citation that states:
Volunteering for the hazardous assignment of steaming through suspected pressure mined waters, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Teague courageously made check sweep runs over entrance channels and anchorages known to have been mined by our forces and contributed materially to the safe entry of United States occupational forces to the Empire of Japan.[10]

Post war[edit]

She was laid up in the James River in 1945, as part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, she was repaired and put back in service as a new war started in the far east.

Korean War[edit]

SS Pratt Victory served as merchant marine naval supplying goods for the Korean War, she helped to move the 140th Medium Tank Battalion. About 75 percent of the personnel taken to Korea for the Korean War were delivered by merchant marine ships. SS Pratt Victory transported goods, mail, food and other supplies. About 90 percent of the cargo was moved by merchant marine ships to the war zone. SS Pratt Victory made trips between 18 November 1950 and 23 December 1952 helping American forces who were engaged against Communist aggression in South Korea.[11][12]

Private use[edit]

In 1961 she was sold to the West Coast Steamship Company in Portland, Oregon and renamed Portland Victory; in 1965 she was sold to Saxis Steamship Company of Wilmington, Delaware and renamed Columbia Victory . In 1968 she was sold to Columbia SS Company and renamed Columbia Trader, on 24 Nov. 1971 she was damaged by an underwater explosion at Chalna Port (now called Port of Mongla) in Bangladesh. She was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1972.[13]

Ship awards[edit]

  • Victory Medal
  • Pacific War Zone Bar
  • Secretary of the Navy awarded Navy Occupation Service Medal and China Service Medal to the Armed Guard Crew for service from 13 Oct. 1945 to 12 March 1946.[14]

See also[edit]



  • Sawyer, L.A. and W.H. Mitchell. Victory ships and tankers: The history of the ‘Victory’ type cargo ships and of the tankers built in the United States of America during World War II, Cornell Maritime Press, 1974, 0-87033-182-5.
  • United States Maritime Commission: [1]
  • Victory Cargo Ships [2]