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WWII History Cargo Ship in Los Angeles Harbor

SS Lane Victory Berth 46She now stands guard at the exit of the San Pedro harbor channel at Berth 46, with her home port dock location moved from near the Vincent Thomas Bridge to make room for the Battleship Iowa. Built in 1945, the SS Lane Victory is one of the few remaining “Victory Class” cargo ships constructed in the latter days of World War II to carry the goods of wartime across the globe. The Victory ship was an update of the earlier Liberty Ship, with a more powerful engine and a somewhat sleeker shape to gain more speed against the nemesis submarine attack.

Deck Gun Lane Victory ShipThe S.S. Lane Victory served with distinction during three wars, The Second World War, The Korean Conflict, and Vietnam, as well as in the peace time merchant fleet. A nationally recognized historic landmark, the S.S. Lane Victory is now a living museum and memorial to the service and sacrifices of all Merchant Marine sailors and Navy Armed Guardsmen. She was named after Lane College, a liberal arts institution in Tennessee, founded in 1882 as a high school for black youth by a Methodist Episcopal Bishop, Isaac Lane.

Gun Turret Lane VictoryExploring the marine gray decks of the SS Lane Victory is a journey back into the dangerous days of cargo duty in World War II, with her defensive guns manned by the Navy Armed Guard, who also worked as signalmen and radiomen. She only served in the Pacific during her war days sailing to Guam and Saipan. After the end of the war, she carried goods to Europe in support of the Marshall Plan. In Korea she saw battle duty in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir evacuating U.S. troops and vehicles from Hungnam. In Vietnam, she carried cargo and ammunition. Between the wars and after, she was mothballed in Suisun Bay, until in 1988, President Regan signed a resolution that she be turned over to the United States Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II, to be restored as a museum ship. After three years, the SS Lane Victory was once again made sea worthy and re-launched in 1994.

Engine from Sand Pebbles MovieAs one of the few remaining operational ships of her day, the Lane Victory has appeared in a number of movies, including “Flags of Our Fathers, “Pearl Harbor” and “U-571” and below decks in the small museum of military artifacts in one of her former cargo holds can be found a particularly unique piece of movie history, the ersatz steam engine which played a major featured role in the 1966 Steve McQueen starring film “The Sand Pebbles” about China Sea sailors on the fictional USS San Pablo. In the movie, the engine was steam “dead stim, water, all same dead stim, sabby”, but the movie prop was actually run by an electric motor for better control.

Radio Room SS Lane VictoryThe S.S. Lane Victory makes regular “Victory at Sea” cruises several times a year in the summer months for younger generations, and old sea dogs to experience or reminisce about sea borne adventures of heady war days gone by, featuring 40s theme music and entertainments. On the day long cruises, voyagers can take in the views of Catalina Island, dance on the deck to the tunes of the Yellow Hound Dawg Band, experience the gunners fending off an aerial attack of the German Luftwaffe and join in helping the crew hunt down a German spy hidden aboard ship.

Visiting the S.S. Lane Victory

The ship and its museum are regularly open Fridays to Wednesdays from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. The theme Victory cruises are $165 for adults and , $90 for children, with special group rates. A visit to the Lane Victory can easily be combined with USS Iowa Battleship, just continue down Harbor Blvd to Berth 46. © Bargain Travel West

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SS Lane Victory

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