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Bedford Victory (AK-231)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.

(AK-231: displacement 15,580 (limiting); length 455'0"; beam 62'0"; draft 29'2" (limiting); speed 15.5 knots; complement 99; armament 1 5-inch, 1 3-inch, 8 20 millimeter; class Boulder Victory; type VC2-S-AP2)

Bedford Victory was laid down on 20 July 1944 at Richmond, Calif., by the Permanente Metals Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C.V. Hull 540); launched on 30 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Raymond A. Kremp; acquired by the Navy on Armistice Day 1944; and, having been designated as a cargo vessel and classified as AK-231, delivered to the Navy at Richmond, Calif., at 1:00 p.m., commissioned that same day [11 November 1944], Lt. Cmdr. Dudley A. Durrant, D-M, USNR, in command.

The Navy acquired Bedford Victory and several of her sisters in response to an urgent need for additional ammunition carriers to keep the greatly expanded Pacific Fleet supplied during the final surge against Japan. Necessity, therefore, obviated major conversion efforts and kept her fitting out and shakedown training periods unavoidably brief. She completed her shakedown cruise on 27 November 1944.

She began taking on a cargo of ammunition at Port Chicago, Calif., the facility that had suffered heavy damage in accidental explosions on 17 July 1944. The ship stood out of San Francisco Bay on 15 December and, after stops at Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok Atoll, and Saipan, arrived at Ulithi on 16 January 1945. There, Bedford Victory became a unit of Service Squadron (ServRon) 10. Over the next four weeks, her crew worked feverishly rearming fleet units as they pulled into the anchorage for provisions, fuel, and ammunition. In February, the ship began visiting other ports of call, rearming warships at Leyte Gulf, Guam, and Saipan in addition to Ulithi.

Late in April, Bedford Victory joined a convoy of oilers bound for the Ryukyus where the last campaign of World War II had already begun. On the 27th, she and her consorts became elements of Task Group (TG) 50.8, the mobile replenishment group supporting the Fifth Fleet. For almost a month, she steamed in a holding area a day’s voyage to the east of Okinawa rearming various units of the Fifth Fleet. At the end of the third week in May, she and the ammunition ship Akutan (AE-13) parted company with TG 50.8 and set course for Kerama Retto, the small group of islands just west of the southern end of Okinawa. The two ships entered the fleet anchorage on 21 May and began two weeks of ammunition distribution there. Enemy air attacks frequently punctuated her activities, but Bedford Victory emerged undamaged from Kerama Retto on 6 June. She steamed in convoy via Saipan and Ulithi to Leyte Gulf. She remained there through the end of the war and for about two months thereafter.

Early in November 1945, the ship embarked upon the long voyage home, and she arrived in Seattle, Wash., on the 17th. Bedford Victory remained at Seattle until the end of the first week in February 1946. At that time, she moved south to San Francisco, Calif., where she was decommissioned on 29 March 1946. She was returned to the Maritime Commission at 1:00 p.m. that same day. Her name was stricken from the Naval Register on 28 August 1946.

Bedford Victory, retaining her name, was allocated under general agency agreement to the Shepard Steamship Co., being delivered to that entity at San Francisco, California. She then operated under the house flag of the Isthmian Steamship Co., that firm taking delivery of the ship at Baltimore, Md., at 12:01 a.m. on 8 February 1947. She entered the Reserve Fleet at 1:00 p.m. on 20 October 1947, being placed in Area 3-N of the James River group, off Lee Hall, Virginia, where she remained into the summer of 1950.

Allocated to the American-Hawaiian Steamship Co. under a general agency agreement, the ship was delivered to her new operators at 4:00 p.m. on 12 August 1950. Bareboat chartered to the Alaska Steamship Co. less than a fortnight later at Baltimore at midnight on 25 August 1950, Bedford Victory operated under the auspices of the Military Sea Transportation Service under the Alaska Steamship colors until midnight on 24 January 1952 at Seattle, Washington, then was allocated to that firm under a general agency agreement that lasted until 1:00 p.m. on 5 May 1952 at Olympia, Washington, when she was placed in the Olympia group of the Reserve Fleet, where she remained for almost two decades.

Ultimately, Bedford Victory was sold on 28 March 1972 for non-transportation use to Bruce H. Blakey. The vessel was delivered to her purchaser at 10:24 a.m. on 26 April 1972 at Olympia.

Bedford Victory earned one battle star for her World War II service, for her supporting the Fifth and Third Fleet raids in support of the Okinawa Gunto operation (25 April—7 June 1945).

Raymond A. Mann and Robert J. Cressman

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

31 August 2022

Published: Wed Aug 31 16:01:13 EDT 2022