Over the centuries, many ships have been commissioned and built for successful use, each improving on the ones that came before. But what happens to the previous generation of vessels still in use when the new ones come along? When the U.S. Navy or Merchant Marines no longer need a ship, but wish to reserve it for future emergencies, they tow it to a storage harbor. There, the boat is emptied of all fuel and cargo, its windows and doors are sealed. The ship is protected from salt-water corrosion and the interior spaces are dehumidified. This technique is called “mothballing,” much like preserving a wool sweater when putting it away for the summer.
That was the fate of many of the Victory ships used during and after World War II — as well as the WWII Victory boat clocks the U.S. Maritime Commission had requested as part of the program. The Victory ships had been produced to replace the slower Liberty vessels and served their purpose as faster emergency ships during World War II. However, like other ships, they eventually were no longer necessary.
One hundred seventy of the ships were sold. Twenty were loaned to the U.S. Army. The rest sat quietly dormant, “mothballed” for future use. Some were reactivated during times of national crisis, including the Korean War, the Suez Canal closure of 1956 and the Vietnam War. Others were retained as logistic support ships for the Military Sealift Command.
Preserving the Legacy
However, the years soon passed, and many of the ships in the reserve fleet were sold for scrap with their metal recycled. Of the thousands of Liberty and Victory ships that once graced the sea, only a small number remain intact today. Those that do still exist are preserved as museum ships. Among them are the Lane Victory in San Pedro, California; the American Victory in Tampa, Florida; and the Red Oak Victory in Richmond, Virginia.
Chelsea Clock: A Proud History of Service
During the 1940s and beyond, Chelsea Clock supplied thousands of mechanical clocks to the U.S. Military for use aboard both Victory and Liberty ships, as well as on submarines, destroyers, cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers. In fact, in 1943, Chelsea was one of the few companies presented with the prestigious “E” award by the U.S. Government in recognition of manufacturing excellence for its production of military clocks.
Today, Chelsea Clock continues to produce a vast number of mechanical and quartz timepieces for installation aboard U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine ships, as well as on numerous military and peacekeeping vessels. Chelsea Clock also offers the Patriot Deck Clock and Radio Room Clock, authentic quartz reproductions of original military timepieces used by the U.S. Government.
The Vintage Victory Collection
Collectors and military aficionados can share in the Victory story by adding an authentic Victory ship clock to their boat, home or office. Chelsea Clock has reclaimed more than 80 marine mechanical clocks previously installed on Victory ships built by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. You can tell which ship these Chelsea U.S. Navy clocks came from by the serial number from the original commission.
These authentic military timepieces, produced for the U.S. Government in the 1940s, are being returned to optimum working condition by Chelsea’s certified Repair & Restoration technicians. As each piece in the Vintage Victory Collection is restored, it will be made available for purchase on this site complete with historical information about the vessel it graced. Find them in our Vintage and Antique Clock Collection!