USS Boulder Victory (AK-227)

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Career (USA) Union Navy Jack 100x35px
Name: Boulder Victory
Namesake: A city in north, central Colorado located about 25 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado. It is the seat of government for Boulder County, Colorado.
Ordered: as type (VC2-S-AP2) hull, MCV hull 536
Builder: Permanente Metals Corporation, Richmond, California
Yard number: Yard No.1
Laid down: 18 June 1944
Launched: 31 August 1944
Sponsored by: Miss Elsa Maxwell
Commissioned: 12 October 1944 as USS Boulder Victory (AK-227)
Decommissioned: 4 January 1946, at San Francisco, California
Struck: 21 January 1946
Honours and
American Campaign Medal
Fate: scrapped in the mid-1980s
General characteristics
Type: Boulder Victory-class cargo ship
Displacement: 15,589 tons
Length: 455'
Beam: 62'
Draft: 29' 2"
Propulsion: steam turbine, single propeller, 8,500shp
Speed: 15.5 knots
Complement: 99 officers and enlisted
Armament: one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount

USS Boulder Victory (AK-227) was a Boulder Victory-class cargo ship acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. She carried ammunition into the Pacific Ocean war zone and, on December 20, 1944 at Manus, New Guinea, she struck a naval mine and suffered a very large hole in her side.

Fortunately, her ammunition did not explode due to the sudden inrush of seawater; however, her operations were somewhat limited after that unfortunate event and post-war she returned to the United States for disposal by the Navy and a continued maritime career.

Victory built in Richmond, California

Boulder Victory (AK-227) was laid down on 18 June 1944 at Richmond, California, by Permanente Metals Corporation under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 536); launched on 31 August; sponsored by Miss Elsa Maxwell; transferred to the Navy on 12 October; and commissioned the same day, Lt. Comdr. Francis E. Church in command.

World War II service

On 17 October, the newly commissioned cargo ship sailed to San Francisco, California, to begin duty as an ammunition supply vessel. Her holds were filled by 2 November, and Boulder Victory got underway for the western Pacific.

In order to support the Allied advances to the west and north, forward ammunition replenishment stations were established at Ulithi Atoll in the Western Caroline Islands and Kossol Passage in the Palau Islands. Boulder Victory received orders to transfer ammunition between these bases as needed. She made port at Eniwetok on 17 November to refuel, entered the lagoon at Ulithi on the 30th, and reached Kossol Passage on 8 December.

Kossol Passage ultimately proved to be unsuitable for ammunition handling owing to chronic heavy swells, the lack of storage facilities ashore, and the shortage of personnel to unload the supplies, as well as its proximity to Japanese-held Babelthuap Island. Floating mines from that island were a constant danger.

Striking a mine

On 20 December, as Boulder Victory set out for Manus, she struck one of those mines on her port side. The explosion tore a hole in her No. 3 hold that measured 18 feet by 32 feet. The hold contained 5-inch projectiles, but the fires started by the explosion were extinguished by the rapid rush of seawater into the space. As a consequence, only two shells exploded, leaving two 16-inch holes in the skin of the ship. Boulder Victory remained afloat, although low in the water; and, after emergency repairs to the engines, managed to get into Palau again on her own power. Her crew suffered no casualties, but the damage to the ship was so severe that her wartime operations ended.

The cargo ship remained anchored at Kossol Passage unloading ammunition and cleaning debris from the hold until 8 February 1945. She then slowly steamed to Manus to unload the remainder of her cargo and to enter a floating drydock for further repairs. Finally, on 13 June, Boulder Victory's temporary repairs made her seaworthy again, and she set course via Pearl Harbor for San Francisco. On 30 June, the ship began a major overhaul by United Engineering Co. at Alameda, California, to complete the repairs.

End-of-war operations

Boulder Victory was still in overhaul when the Japanese capitulated in August; but, on 1 September, the cargo ship began shakedown and training exercises off San Diego, California. She got underway on 10 October to carry supplies to the occupation troops in Japan. After a refueling stop at Eniwetok, Boulder Victory continued on to Okinawa where she arrived on 30 October.

She unloaded her cargo and embarked returning veterans. On 10 November, she set sail for the United States.

Post-war decommissioning

After discharging her passengers, the ship sailed for San Francisco, where she commenced demilitarization on 5 December and was returned to the War Shipping Administration on 4 January 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 21 January 1946.

During 1946 and 1947, Boulder Victory was operated by Parry Navigation Co., Inc. She was then inactivated and laid up at Wilmington, North Carolina, until 1951, when she began operations for the Isbrantsen Co., Inc., and then for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company. The ship was once again deactivated in 1953 and placed in storage at Suisun Bay, California, where she remained until disposed of sometime in the mid-1980s.

Honors and awards

Qualified Boulder Victory personnel were eligible for the following: