S.S. Dickinson Victory

S.S. Dickinson Victory, 1945

The S.S. Dickinson Victory was a "Victory" ship built by the California Ship Building Corporation for the United States Maritime Commission on Terminal Island, California, near Los Angeles. The keel was laid on December 15, 1944, and the ship was launched on February 9, 1945.

The "Victory" ship program was begun in 1944 as an improved extension of the "Liberty" ship program. Vessels in this new class were designed to be faster, safer, and convertible to civilian use following the war. The Dickinson Victory was a "VC2-S-AP2 Type" of close to 11,000 tons, 455' 3" long and with a beam of 62'. It was powered by 8,500 horsepower turbine engines generating a top speed of 17 knots and a cruising radius of 25,000 miles. The first of the type was completed in February, 1944 and called the United Victory. A total of 534 Victory ships were built between 1944 and 1946; the first 35 ships, including the United Victory, honored the Allied nations. The next 218 were named after cities, followed by 150 ships named for educational institutions; Dickinson Victory was the second in this latter series, following the Rutgers Victory. The remaining 131 Victory ships were given assorted names.

The honor of launching the vessel went to Mrs. Charles W. Angle (see launch program). Dickinson College was represented by Lieutenant (jg) Benjamin D. James, USN, class of 1934, and a psychology professor and administrator at the College before and after his service. Seven other alumni from the Los Angeles area were also present. The College subsequently raised $350 to provide a ship's library for the Merchant Marine manned vessel.

Following war service, the ship was leased to several shipping companies, including the American Hawaiian Steamship Company, before returning in May 1948 to the Reserve Fleet in Mobile, Louisiana. In March 1951, it was sold to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Company and renamed the Mayo Lykes. It was finally deactivated from reserve fleet status in 1961. According to the records of the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Mayo Lykes was sold for scrap on July 2, 1999. The oft-mentioned tale that the Dickinson Victory met its end as part of the atomic bomb testing off the island of Eniwetok is apparently just another College legend. The reality of the old ship's last service is interesting, however, since it was the subject vessel in a 1995 Sandia Corporation study for the Department of Energy, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, testing the effects of fire on the shipment of nuclear material at Little Sand Island in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

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Dickinson College Archives
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