The S.S. American Victory ship is one of those Tampa things that you see and wonder what the heck it is all about, and then probably never get around to doing it. But I’m telling you, it’s a fun little adventure to add to the itinerary next time you are in the Channel District.
The Channel District, better known as Channelside, has a day’s worth of activities that can be strung together—The Florida Aquarium, Channelside Bay Plaza, Tampa Riverwalk, Tampa Bay Times Forum (where the Tampa Bay Lightning play), and the American Victory Ship & Museum. Also, a TECO Streetcar makes for easy access to nearby Ybor City.
The S.S. American Victory ship, located behind The Florida Aquarium, serves as a museum to preserve maritime history and culture and to honor the men and woman who have risked their lives in the American Merchant Fleet.
A little bit of history…
The S.S. American Victory is a Victory Ship, built during WWII to carry military supplies. She served in the Pacific during the war and later served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It took 55 days to build her at the California Shipbuilding Yard in 1945 and was delivered to the U.S. War Shipping Administration for active service.
Over the years, the Victory changed hands a several times, becoming deactivated on a couple occasions, being placed in reserve fleets, and eventually slated for scrap. However, in 1998, the ship was saved for preservation as a museum ship. She was towed from Virginia to her permanent home in Tampa’s Channel District.
The Victory is still operational, only one of three operational Victory ships left in the world.
Visiting the S.S. American Victory
You can either take a guided or self-guided tour of the ship. For guided tours, you have to call ahead. I took a self-guided tour and found it plenty sufficient. It allowed me to explore at a leisurely pace and gave me plenty of time in the museum to read anything of interest. You can expect to do the whole thing in about an hour to an hour and a half.
The best parts are peering into the cavernous cargo hold, seeing the anti-aircraft gun on the bow, views of the bay from the upper decks, and exploring the museum. A visit to the American Victory Ship & Museum is wonderful for the history buff and for the curious. I’d recommend using the museum to supplement a daytrip to The Florida Museum and then grabbing a bite to eat at Ybor City’s Columbian Restaurant.
Location: 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602
Hours: Sunday & Monday, 12:00pm-5:00pm │ Tuesday–Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm
Admission: Adults $10 │ Seniors 65+ $8 │ Students w/ ID $8 │ Veterans $5 │ Children 4-12 $5 │ Children under 3 are free
Website: http://www.americanvictory.org/ Phone: 813-228-8766
Groupon: Admission for 2 for $12
To see a music video by Christian metal band, Onward to Olympas, which was filmed aboard the Victory, click here.