Red Oak Victory procures long-sought-after WWII Navy deck gun

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Red Oak Victory procures long-sought-after WWII Navy deck gun
A WWII U.S. Navy deck gun was relocated from Treasure Island to its new home aboard the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. (Photo credit: SS Red Oak Victory Photographer Dori Luzbetak)

By Kathy Chouteau

On Wednesday, a new addition embarked on a trek to come aboard Richmond’s Red Oak Victory ship.

A 40,000-pound World War II U.S. Navy deck gun was relocated from the Treasure Island Development Authority’s scrap heap on Treasure Island to its new home aboard the historic floating museum on the city’s waterfront.

Eventually, the deck gun will be mounted in the stern gun tub on the ship, just as a similar gun was mounted during World War II, according to a statement from Red Oak Victory Director of Marketing Fred Klink.

“This gun will be accessible to visitors to the Red Oak Victory and will enhance the already extensive historic and educational exhibits on the ship,” he stated.

Red Oak Victory Deck Department Head Kim Abbott’s crew dismantled the gun on Treasure Island in preparation for the team that eventually moved it.

Maggiora & Ghilotti, Inc. of San Rafael coordinated the deck gun move—a complicated transfer that involved a 300-ton capacity crane from Bragg Cranes, a high-capacity lowboy tractor-trailer and a great investment of time and labor—all of which were donated by company president, Gary Ghilotti.

Red Oak Victory procures long-sought-after WWII Navy deck gun
A WWII U.S. Navy deck gun was relocated from Treasure Island to its new home aboard the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. (Photo credit: SS Red Oak Victory Photographer Dori Luzbetak)

The team encountered some challenges along the way, but after an entire day of coordination and troubleshooting, delivered the deck gun to the dock adjacent to the Red Oak Victory around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Plans are for the ship’s crew to restore and repaint the gun on the dock next to the ship—a process that’s expected to take approximately two-to-three weeks. Once this work is finished, the Maggiora & Ghilotti crew will return to hoist the gun into its permanent location on the stern of the ship, per Klink.

The addition of the deck gun, also known as a cannon outside the military, is the culmination of a longtime search by the ship’s crew. In a fortunate turn of events, new volunteer William Brandt was fruitful in his efforts to help locate the deck gun that the Red Oak Victory needed to fully return to its WWII-era state.

Red Oak Victory procures long-sought-after WWII Navy deck gun
A WWII U.S. Navy deck gun was relocated from Treasure Island to its new home aboard the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. (Photo credit: SS Red Oak Victory Photographer Dori Luzbetak)

The ship isn’t the only thing returning to its former state as part of this maritime endeavor. Prior to finding its new home on the ship, the deck gun was used for training by US Navy personnel on Treasure Island, according to Klink. With the Navy’s departure from the island, it ended up on a scrap heap covered with graffiti and rust.

So what does it mean to the Red Oak Victory’s crew to be adding the new deck gun to the ship? 

“Oh, it’s terrific,” said Klink. “I mean we’re, we’re very excited about it…the fact that we now have a representative of every type of armament that was on the ship. There’s three of them: there’s a five inch gun at the stern, a three inch gun on the bow and then there were 20 millimeter anti-aircraft guns, as well. We have examples of all three of those. So, it really rounds out the exhibit…”

The Red Oak Victory is the last surviving vessel built at the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during World War II and is also one of the war’s last surviving Victory ships. It’s docked at 1337 Canal Blvd. in Richmond. For more info, call 510-237-2933 or click here.

Red Oak Victory procures long-sought-after WWII Navy deck gun
A WWII U.S. Navy deck gun was relocated from Treasure Island to its new home aboard the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. (Photo credit: SS Red Oak Victory Photographer Dori Luzbetak)

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