SS Dominator

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The wreck of SS Dominator in 1965
The wreck of SS Dominator in 1965
United States
Name: SS Melville Jacoby
Builder: Walsh-Kaiser Company, Providence, Rhode Island
Yard number: 3119
Way number: 3
Laid down: 27 October 1943
Launched: 18 January 1944
Completed: 31 March 1944
Fate: Sold into commercial service, 1947
  • Victoria (1947–1950)
  • North Queen (1950–1953)
  • Dominator (1953–1961)
Fate: Wrecked, 13 March 1961
General characteristics
Class and type: Type EC2-S-C1 Liberty ship
Displacement: 14,245 long tons (14,474 t)[1]
  • 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m) o/a
  • 417 ft 9 in (127.33 m) p/p
  • 427 ft (130 m) w/l[1]
Beam: 57 ft (17 m)[1]
Draft: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)[1]
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)[1]
Range: 20,000 nmi (37,000 km; 23,000 mi)
Capacity: 10,856 t (10,685 long tons) deadweight (DWT)[1]
Crew: 81[1]
Armament: Stern-mounted 4 in (100 mm) deck gun for use against surfaced submarines, variety of anti-aircraft guns

SS Dominator, a freighter, ran ashore on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the South Bay area of California in 1961 due to a navigational error while lost in fog. Its remains can still be seen today, and serves as a point of interest for hikers and kayakers.

Ship history[edit]

The ship was originally the American Liberty ship Melville Jacoby, built during World War II at the Walsh-Kaiser Company shipyard in Providence, Rhode Island, and launched on 31 March 1944.[2] It was named after the journalist Melville Jacoby, who after reporting on the war in China, and narrowly escaping capture at Corregidor, was killed in an air crash in 1942.[3]

During the war the ship was operated by the Wilmore Steamship Company of Boston, on behalf of the War Shipping Administration. In 1947 she was sold into commercial service, and flying the Panamanian flag, was renamed SS Victoria. She changed hands in 1950, and was renamed SS North Queen, then again in 1953 and became SS Dominator.[4]

The wreck[edit]

The remains of Dominator, circa 2006
Dominator in late 2009

On March 13, 1961, Dominator was en route to Los Angeles from Vancouver with a cargo of wheat and beef, when she ran aground off Palos Verdes, California.[5] For two days, the Coast Guard and tugboats attempted to refloat her, but heavy seas and high winds only forced her higher onto the rocks. After two days the crew abandoned ship. The stranded ship was then auctioned, and hull and cargo were sold separately, which led to some conflict between the salvors, as they attempted to gain what they could. Eventually, the ship slowly broke up under the pounding of the waves, and large pieces of wreckage are still scattered over the shore.[6]

Accessing the wreck[edit]

The nearest access point is the park along the cove to the south. A different trailhead down to the beach leading to the site begins about 2 miles north along the coast on Paseo Del Mar between Via Horcada and Via Almar in Palos Verdes Estates, California.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Davies, James (2012). "Liberty Cargo Ships" (PDF). p. 23. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Walsh-Kaiser Shipbuilding". 2011. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Press, Harry (March–April 2000). "Getting to the Front". Stanford Magazine: Book Review. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Liberty Ships (M)". 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Dominator". 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Dominator Shipwreck". 2005. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°46′26″N 118°25′42″W / 33.77389°N 118.42833°W / 33.77389; -118.42833