Gear Head Tuesday: Rusty Old Vessel Makes Steam For the First Time In 50 Years

Gear Head

Red Oak Victory (“Rusty Old Vessel”) Makes Steam For the First Time In 50 Years

Hat tip to “Chris-to-Fear” for bringing us up to date on the “Rusty Old Vessel” and for sending the photos of her being towed from her home in Richmond, CA to the California Maritime Academy (CMA) in Vallejo, where for the first time in 50 years she made steam. She was moved to the dock at the CMA because when her boilers were lit off for the first time in so long, there was a danger that oil would be belched out of the smoke stack. All around Red Oak Victory’s home in Richmond are docks full of cars imported from Asia. No one wanted to risk oil getting on the new cars.

Red Oak Victory is one of three surviving Victory ships built in World War II. She was built in Kaiser’s Richmond shipyard near where she is now usually docked and is being restored. “Chris-to-Fear” worked as a volunteer restoring the ship for a number of years and will do so once again next year after retiring from his “day job”.

Red Oak Victory

Home in Richmond

Tugs begin pushing her out at the beginning of her journey to Vallejo:

ROV - tugboat 2

ROV - tugboat

Readers familiar with the Richmond shipyards will recognize in the center background the warehouse that stored provisions for the ships built there. Also visible is the former Ford plant which, when built, assembled Model Ts, but in World War II, built Sherman tanks for the Pacific theater:

ROV leaving Richmond

She passed the docks where oil tankers unload for Chevron’s huge Richmond refinery:


About to pass under the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge:

ROV going under Richmond bridge

From Richmond to Vallejo

Approaching the bridges over the Carquinez Straight at Vallejo:

ROV approaching Carquinez straights

Visible behind the bridges is the C&H Sugar plant in Crockett:

ROV - Carquinez bridges


Docked at the California Maritime Academy:

ROV at CMA - stern-2

The hills in the distance are Marin County. Not visible, but to the left of the ferry boat seen leaving Vallejo on its way to San Francisco is Richmond from where Red Oak Victory was towed:

ROV at CMA - stern

Cal Maritime Vallejo

The “Rusty Old Vessel” viewed from Crockett near the landmark Nantucket Restaurant:

ROV at CMA from 80

She’s making steam! Click to play:

Here’s a 12 minute history of the Victory ships:
Click to play:


ROV at sunrise


Add yours →

  1. Kenneth Bartelt 14/08/2018 — 07:50

    Great story! My dad was on one of the Victory ships in WWII in the south Pacific. Time to look back into the past from where we have come.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SWEET! enjoyed the entry very much. sorta makes one want to go to sea! Great history lesson. These ships were built fast, but they did the job.


    • Yes – these ships were built fast. It was part of Henry Kaiser’s genius that his company figured out how to do this.
      “Chris-to-Fear” has given me a tour of the ship. I’ve been down in the keel, following the propeller shaft all the way to the stern. 🙂


  3. C.S. Marshall 14/08/2018 — 20:50

    Excellent work Paul!
    Heck, please help yourself to the entire pie & carton of ice cream, you deserve it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cindy VsnNieuwburg 22/08/2018 — 13:56

    My dad, Jack Nolan helped restore this ship until his age caught up to him. He was very happy today watching this video!

    Liked by 1 person

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