American shipyards built 531 Victory class
vessels toward the end of WW II. 414 were cargo ships and 117 were
constructed as attack transports for the US Navy. Victories were considerably stronger
and faster than the Liberty ships constructed earlier during the
war. Geared steam turbines were used for propulsion instead of
While strictly functional, Victory ships had a certain style, with a raised bow and rounded "cruiser stern" plus a forward superstructure curved on both port and starboard sides, sort of a small attempt at graceful streamlining. Most Victory ships were named for American cities, others for colleges and universities.
Survey ships Bowditch, Dutton and Michelson were VC2-S-AP3 class vessels originally named SS South Bend Victory, SS Tuskegee Victory and SS Joliet Victory respectively.
Both Bowditch and Dutton had long careers, Bowditch steaming until 1988 and Dutton in service until 1989. Michelson was found unseawothy by the US Coast Guard and was taken out of service in 1975. It was replaced by USNS H. H. Hess (TAGS-38), a C4-S-1sa Mariner class hull (ex. SS Canada Mail) in 1978. Hess suffered a boiler meltdown and in 1992 it too went out of service.