CLIFFS VICTORY

CLIFFS VICTORY

CLIFFS VICTORY, US.247522, Lake Bulk Freighter. Built in 1945 as a VC2-S-AP3 "Victory" cargo ship for the U.S. Maritime Commission (U.S.M.C. contract number MC c34763) by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corp., Portland, OR as Hull #1229 (U.S.M.C. #175) at a cost of $2,618,000. Her keel was laid on January 26, 1945 and was launched 42 days later on March 9, 1945 as a) NOTRE DAME VICTORY. 455’loa 436’6"lbp x 62’x 38’; 7606 GRT, 4549 NRT, 10,750 dwt at 25'8" draft. Powered by a 9,350 shp double reduction geared, cross--compound steam turbine built by the Joshua Hendy Iron Works, San Francisco, CA and two oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers, with a total heating surface of 16,260 sq.ft. The Victory Ship building program arose from the need to build faster cargo ships during World War II. At the time Liberty-type cargo vessels attained speeds of only 11 to 13 knots (12.7 to 15 mph) and were easy targets for German U-boats. Victory ships were designed to attain speeds in excess of 17 knots (19.6 mph) and were especially seaworthy with their long and high forecastle, cruiser stern and mid-ship located engine. VC2-S--AP3 was the Maritime Commission designation for these vessels. "VC" meant Victory Cargo and the "2" referred to the size range of 400 to 499 feet in length. "S" meant steam power and "AP3" indicated it was equipped with special design features, including an oil-fired steam turbine. It was hoped that 524 VC2's would be built in 1944, their first year of production, however a total of only 531 were completed at war's end. NOTRE DAME VICTORY was delivered to Interocean Steamship Co. on April 6, 1945 under charter from the U.S.M.C. In 1947 this charter was secured by Moore-McCormack Lines under whom the VICTORY sailed on the East coast and as far as the mouth of the Amazon River until finally laying up in 1948 as surplus on the James River near Newport News, VA. Due to the hostilities in Korea in 1950, demand for iron ore exceeded the hauling capacity that existed for Great Lakes fleets. As a result the shipping companys’ orders for new vessels filled the Great Lakes shipyards to capacity. Since tonnage demands exceeded the Great Lakes yards' ability to meet the number of ships needed, innovative and quick planning was required. Upon suggestion from the U.S. Maritime Commission, surplus World War II cargo vessels, many of which had laid up on the James River, were made available for sale under the Great Lakes Vessel Sales Act of 1950 (enacted September 28, 1950) to be converted for Great Lakes use. The Act allowed Great Lakes fleets to purchase up to 10 surplus ships by December 31, 1951 and receive a 90% cost subsidy to convert and refurbish them for Lakes use. The first such conversion occurred when the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. of Cleveland, OH bought the NOTRE DAME VICTORY on December 10, 1950. They had her towed from the James River on December 19th and arriving January 2nd at the Key Highway yard of Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Ship Building Division at Baltimore, Md. There she was cut in two just forward of her mid-ship engine room in order to add a 165'6" new mid-section which had been built nearby at Bethlehem's Sparrows Point yard. In addition the engine was overhauled, side tanks were added, the spar deck, holds and deck houses were built or rebuilt to conform to Great Lakes standards. Her reconstruction was unusual in that she retained a shallow hold and five deck hatches aft of her rear cabin structure. She was unique for having two traveling hatch cranes and a propeller shaft alley through her after hold. She was floated from the drydock on March 21, 1951, three months and two days after she entered the dock, and was rechristened b) CLIFFS VICTORY. New dimensions: 619’loa, 601’lbp x 62’x 38’; 9305 GRT, 6203 NRT, 14,500 dwt. On April 2, 1951 she was towed, bound for New Orleans, LA, with her deck houses, stack, propeller, rudder and above deck fittings stored on or below her spar deck for bridge clearance. She was outfitted with two 120 foot pontoons, which were built at the Baltimore yard, that were attached to her hull at the stern to reduce her draft to eight feet for passage in the shallow sections of the river/canal system. Fortunately the weather was kind for the sixteen day trip to New Orleans. On April 19th she began her much publicized 1,000 mile journey up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers through the Illinois Waterway pushed by a towboat to Lockport, IL where two GLT tugs took up the tow through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal; a series of locks 600 feet by 110 feet connecting to Lake Michigan at Chicago. Here difficulties arose clearing the last lock, since the CLIFFS VICTORY's length was 20 feet longer than the lock. Though this was true of the other locks, the hydrodynamic pressure from Lake Michigan made this task particularly tricky. While in the lock, with the entrance gate still open, the exit gate was also opened allowing the water from Lake Michigan to slowly surge into the lock forcing the VICTORY back. But gradually momentum was regained as the vessel was winched far enough forward to close the rear gate. On May 9, 1951 the CLIFFS VICTORY arrived at the South Chicago yard of the American Ship Building Co. completing her 37 day, 3,000 mile journey from Baltimore. There her deck houses, stack, masts, deck machinery, rudder and propeller were installed and the floatation pontoons removed. After successfully completing her sea trials on June 3, 1951, the CLIFFS VICTORY entered service a little under six months from the time she was purchased from the U.S.M.C. She sailed on her maiden voyage light from South Chicago on June 4, 1951 bound for Marquette, MI where she loaded 13,089 gross tons of iron ore on June 6th. Her downbound delivery trip to Cleveland, OH took only 38 hours, normally a 55 to 60 hour run for other lakers, and averaged over 13.9 knots (16 mph). The speed necessary to outrun enemy submarines during the war was 20 knots (23 mph) which the CLIFFS VICTORY was able to attain in open waters. She was the fastest bulk freighter on the Great Lakes, which helped because of her relatively small cubic capacity, until the GIRDLER Class C-4 conversions arrived on the Lakes. Classic unofficial races reportedly occurred throughout the Lakes between these eventual fleetmates with the CHARLES M. WHITE being declared the fastest in 1953 by the Cleveland papers. The CLIFFS VICTORY did better the WHITE’s time from Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth, MN by two minutes on May 24, 1953 when she logged a time of 17 hours and 50 minutes. The CLIFFS VICTORY remained a boat watchers' favorite because of her unusual appearance. She was soon surpassed in trip capacity by newer and larger vessels. With the cessation of the Korean conflict the demand for ore slackened. The CLIFFS VICTORY was returned to AmShip's South Chicago yard to be lengthened 96 feet over the winter of 1956-57 by adding a fifth cargo hold forward of her engine room. Her new dimensions were: 716’3"loa, 698’5"lbp x 62’x 38’; 11,151 GRT, 7309 NRT, 17,600 dwt. On June 30, 1962 she made her first trip down the Welland Canal with a load of iron ore for Hamilton, Ont. An Amthrust bow-thruster was installed in early 1964 at AmShip's Lorain shipyard. While downbound loaded with iron ore, she ran aground December 9, 1976 near Johnson Point in the ice--laden Munuscong Channel of the St. Marys River. (The downbound West Neebish Channel had been closed the previous day for the season because of its ice filled and restrictive nature.) She was freed December llth, but not before causing the worst traffic jam in fifty years, resulting in seventy ships delayed by the incident. Part of her cargo had to be lightered and with the efforts of three tugs and a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker she was freed. The VICTORY was escorted to Lake Munuscong where she was reloaded and then towed to Detour, MI for inspection, where it was discovered she had lost her rudder. Her fleetmate EDWARD B. GREENE towed her side saddle to Indiana Harbor to unload her cargo. She then proceeded to AmShip's South Chicago yard where extensive bottom plate damage and her rudder were repaired. She re-entered service in May the following year. The CLIFFS VICTORY became the last vessel serviced by AmShip's South Chicago yard in the fall of 1981, when she received her five-year survey. She was laid up for the last time at the conclusion of the 1981 season in the Calumet River at South Chicago a victim of her costly operation and of economic downtimes. Efforts failed to sell her as a marine museum at Toledo in 1984 and, with scrap prices soaring, the CLIFFS VICTORY was sold October 12, 1985 to Hai International Corp. of New York for scrapping in the orient and transferred to Panamanian registry. Her name was changed to c) SAVIC, utilizing the "S" from CLIFFS, the "VIC" from VICTORY and inserting an "A". All the other letters were painted out. With an inexperienced Taiwanese crew, boiler problems and the collapse of Lock 7's west wall in the Welland Canal on October 17th, SAVIC's departure was delayed until December 17, 1985 when she departed Chicago under her own power. She encountered further delays the next day when difficulties with ballasting, a cold pilothouse, low fuel and two anxious U.S. pilots forced her to anchor off Milwaukee, WI. There she was brought into the harbor where she was fueled and the international crew was briefly trained to operate the radar, the ballast and steam heat systems. The SAVIC was downbound past Detroit, MI December 23rd, by-passing a 15,000 ton load of scrap because of the lack of time to clear the Seaway. Delayed at Port Colborne, Ont. for re-documentation, the SAVIC cleared the Welland Canal Christmas night and finally anchored at Pointe aux Trembles near Montreal, Que. December 27th awaiting another load of scrap. The SAVIC remained there the entire winter, because the underwriters ordered that her hull be re-enforced by welding straps to her stress points for her overseas journey. She was sold to Ziff/Union/Corostel of Montreal in July, 1986. On September 9, 1986 she cleared Lanoraie, just below Montreal, for New York where she loaded cargo containers for Korea. Clearing New York on October 10, 1986, the SAVIC passed through the Panama Canal and was sighted in Honolulu, HI on November 14th, eventually arriving at Inchon, South Korea December 8th. After a grueling fourteen month, fourteen thousand mile final trip, the SAVIC finally arrived at Masan, South Korea December 22, 1986 for dismantling there which was completed in 1987. It is a bit ironic that the VICTORY should end her sailing career in the country that was most responsible for giving her a second life on the Great Lakes.



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