Educator Pre Visit Information

The following is suggested information to talk about with your students before visiting theAmerican Victory. You can turn the information into a worksheet for students or prepare a lesson on the background of merchant ships.

Background Information on the SS American Victory:

Name: SS American Victory (SS stands for Steam Ship).  The American Victory was named after American University in Washington, DC.

Type of ship: Merchant Marine cargo ship.  The Victory Ship (replaced the Liberty Ships). Learn about the difference between Liberty and Victory Ships.

Vessel Type: VC2-S-AP2  (Victory Class, Cargo, 2nd Length, Steam, Auxiliary, Personnel, 2ndShip in Series)

Ship Launching: May 24, 1945

Delivered to War Shipping Authority: June 20, 1945 from California Shipyards

Total Number: 534 Victory Ships Launched.

Total Number Victory Ships Sunk During World War II: 5

Speed of Victory Ship:

American Victory’s Dimensions: 455 feet long, 62 feet wide and 109 feet high

American Victory Sailings:

Trace the History of the American Victory

1945: American Victory Involvement in World War II

Crew: 62 Merchant Mariners and Naval Armed Guard

The American Victory began to sail near the end of World War II.  She carried cargo from Los Angeles and other West Coast cities to the Philippines.  From July 25, 1945 to September 1, 1945 she delivered cargo to different ports in the Philippines. She arrived in Yokohama, Japan, two days after the Japanese surrendered aboard the USS Missouri.


After the war, the American Victory provided humanitarian aid under the Marshall Plan to India, Egypt, Russia, Italy, Turkey, Trieste, Greece, and Bulgaria.

1947-1951: Hudson River Reserve Fleet

American Victory and other ships were placed in reserve fleets after the war.  The ships could be reactivated and put into use in case a war broke out. 

The Reserve Fleets were a critical part of our nations defense.  If a war were to break out the ships could be ready to deliver cargo in thirty days.  See Maritime Administration Website for more information on the National Defense Reserve Fleet.

1951-1954: American Victory in the Korean War

Crew: 47 Merchant Mariners

The American Victory was reactivated in New York City, New York, in 1951, one of one hundred and thirty Victory ships reactivated for the Korean War.  Shipyard re-activation work was done from February 18 to April 25, 1951.  She was given a shipyard charter on March 19, 1951. She went on nine voyages during the Korean War where she transported cargo between the United States, Korea, Japan and Germany.

Merchant Marine in the Korean War:

1954-1966: Sabine River Reserve Fleet

1966-1969: American Victory Involvement in the Vietnam War

Crew: as small as 25 members

The American Victory was reactivated for the Vietnam War on July 19, 1966, when her charter was awarded to Hudson Waterways Corporation.  She was towed to New Orleans, Louisiana on July 30th She departed on her first Vietnam War voyage on September 9, 1966.  She transported everything from trunks and soda to household goods, pipes, refrigerators, air conditioners, mail bags, paint, and insecticide.

The ship currently has the radio logs from the Vietnam War.  The radio logs are primary source documents showing the messages received and sent from onboard the American Victory The radio logs note many different events onboard from necessary ship repairs to weather alerts.  One radio log notes that “receive message that ports is under grey conditions—enemy action anticipated—vessel must be able to depart port on 2 hour notice—24 hour radio watch is required.” (February 22, 1968, in NhaTrang, Vietnam).  This reiterates the grave danger that the Merchant Mariners faced.

Merchant Marine in the Vietnam War:

1969-1985 James River Reserve Fleet

1985: American Victory Reactivated as a part of MARAD (Maritime Administration) Activation Program

American Victory was one of two Victory Ships reactivated to test the readiness and usefulness of fifty year old Victory Ships. As a result Victory Ships were retained in the reserve fleet for another decade while modern replacements were being designed.

1985-1999 James River Reserve Fleet

1999-present: Docked in Tampa as a Mariners Memorial and Museum Ship

For more information read the St. Petersburg Times online article “Cargo ship to be museum” by Steve Huettel  from September 13, 1999 located on the internet at:

Before Your Visit: Teachers Resource

Concepts to review with your students before coming onboard:

1.     Onboard layout of the American Victory.

2.     What is the difference between the liberty and victory ship?

3.     Who are the Merchant Marines?

4.     Who were the Naval Armed Guard?

5.     What is the role of a cargo ship? What did it carry?

Suggested pre-visit activities:

1.     What is a primary source?

Introduce students to a primary source document.  The Library of Congress website provides an online lesson for you to use.

2.     Compare and contrast a picture of the American Victory today vs. a picture of the American Victory when it was first launched.

3.     Have your students participate in a free write.  Have them describe what they feel the ship will look like.  What was it like to  be at sea during the war?

4.     Have students learn nautical terminology.  Use the new words in the free write,  a short story, or  sentence.

Before you come aboard review basic nautical terminology with your students.  Some basic ships words are listed below.

Nautical Terminology