SS Park Victory

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United States
Name: Park Victory
Namesake: Park College
Builder: Permanente Metals, Richmond, California
Yard number: Richmond Shipyards #2
Laid down: 11 March 1945
Launched: 21 April 1945
Acquired: 16 May 1945
Fate: sank after accidental grounding in the Gulf of Finland on December 25, 1947
General characteristics
Length: 455'
Speed: 15.5 knots
Park Victory commemorative candle holder in Utö Chapel

The SS Park Victory was a Victory-class cargo ship built during World War II. The ship's military service is uncertain as it was launched on April 21, 1945, very near the end of the war.

The ship was named in honor of Park College (now Park University), one of 150 educational institutions that had Victory ships named after them. Park College was selected as a training center for the V-12 Navy College Training Program from 1943 to 1945. This partnership between the Navy and Park College may have led to the naming of a ship in the college's honor. In reciprocation, Park College donated $300 to buy 120 books for the library aboard the SS Park Victory. The launching ceremony on April 21, 1945 was attended by several Park alumni.[1]

SS Park Victory sank in the Gulf of Finland near Utö on Christmas Night, about 02.15 AM local time (UTC+2), December 25, 1947 after accidentally running aground on rocks in a storm. The Master of the ship, Allen Zepp, initially lost his license when a Coast Guard examiner said that Zepp failed to maintain an adequate anchor watch. The decision was overturned on appeal.[2]

38 crew members of total of 48 outlived the ordeal. Those 38 along with 2 bodies left Utö island on December 26 headed back to the United States. After the crew returned home, the helpful islanders were sent coffee and sugar to thank the people who brought them to the shore and took them to shelter in their homes. The villagers sold the gift sugar and coffee, which was scarce just after the war, and with the money, they went on to order a special commemorative silver candle holder that holds 10 candles. On the candle holder are engraved the names of crew members who perished in the accident. Every Christmas Eve, the candles are lit in the Utö church chapel in memory of the accident and the lives that were lost in it.[3]