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Chelsea Clock Unveils Rare Collector Series

Top Quote Over 80 Vintage Mechanical Clocks from WWII U.S. Victory Ships. End Quote
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  • (1888PressRelease) July 25, 2012 - CHELSEA, MA - Chelsea Clock is pleased to announce that it has reclaimed over 80 marine mechanical clocks, formerly installed on U.S. Victory Ships built by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II.

    These authentic military timepieces, produced by Chelsea Clock for the U.S. Government in the 1940s, are in the process of being returned to optimum working condition by Chelsea's certified repair and restoration technicians. As each original piece is restored, it will be made available for purchase on the company's site at www.ChelseaClock.com

    The Restoration Process

    Over the coming months, Chelsea Clock technicians will work to repair and restore each vintage military timepiece. All 80-plus clocks will be disassembled and ultrasonically cleaned. Any worn and broken pieces will be repaired or replaced. And clock cases will be revived, while taking special care to preserve their vintage appearance. Each clock bears its original Chelsea Clock serial number, and will include information about the U.S. Victory Ship upon which it sailed. All clocks will also carry a two-year warranty.

    1940s Mechanical Military Clocks

    While each vintage clock in this U.S. Victory Ship collection is unique - based on its specific history and condition - all share some common features, as they were produced by Chelsea in the early 1940s. All feature black phenolic (high-impact, shatterproof resin) cases and hinged locking bezels. All are key-wind mechanical timepieces and most feature 12E (time-only) movements. A small number feature 16E movements, which include a second hand bit. In addition, each displays 12-hour and 24-hour military time on either a 6" black or white dial. A small number feature 8" dials.

    U.S. Victory Ships: A Brief History

    In 1943, the U.S. Maritime Commission embarked upon a program to develop a new type of emergency ship that would replace those lost to German submarines during the early part of WWII. Dubbed the "Victory" ship, the new vessel was designed to be faster than its predecessor, the Liberty ship.

    The Victories were given the designation of VC2: V for Victory (ship type), C for cargo, and 2 for a medium-sized ship between 400 and 450 feet long.

    The first Victory ship, the S.S. United Victory, was built at Oregon Shipbuilding in Portland and delivered on February 28, 1944. A total of 531 Victories were constructed by North American shipyards, comprising 414 cargo ships and 117 attack transports. Ninety-seven of the Victories were outfitted as troop carriers; the others carried food, fuel, ammunition, material and supplies.

    Built for Speed

    While the lines of the Victory ship were not unlike those of the Liberty, the propulsion was vastly superior. Liberty ships were powered by steam engines, with a maximum speed of 11 knots, which made them easy prey for submarines. Victories were propelled by the more modern steam turbine, generating between 5,500 to 8,500 horsepower and providing cruising speeds of up to 15 to 17 knots (approximately 18.5 miles per hour). The crew typically included 62 civilian merchant sailors and 28 naval personnel (to operate defensive guns and communications equipment).

    The ships' names were inspired by a number of sources:

    Member countries of the United Nations (e.g., SS Brazil Victory, SS U.S.S.R. Victory)
    U.S. cities and towns ( e.g., SS Ames Victory, SS Las Vegas Victory)
    American colleges and universities (e.g., SS Adelphi Victory, SS Yale Victory)

    All of the names ended with the suffix "Victory," with the exception of the 117 Victory Attack Transports, which bore the names of state counties.

    These fast, large-capacity carriers served honorably in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war. When the Navy or Merchant Marines no longer need a ship but wish to reserve it for future emergencies, they tow it to storage harbors, empty it of all fuel and cargo, and seal its windows and doors. 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 put away for the summer.

    That was the fate of many of the Victory ships used during and after World War II. Produced to replace the slower Liberty ships, Victories served their purpose as faster emergency ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission but were eventually 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, their metal recycled. Of the thousands of Liberty and Victory ships that once graced the sea only a small number remain today. Among them are the Lane Victory in San Pedro, CA, the American Victory in Tampa, FL, and the Red Oak Victory in Richmond, VA.

    Chelsea Clock: A Proud History of Military 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. In addition, Chelsea Clock offers the Patriot Deck Clock and Radio Room Clock, authentic quartz reproductions of original military timepieces used by the U.S. Government.

    About Chelsea Clock

    Founded in 1897 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Chelsea Clock is the oldest clock company in America and one of the most renowned and respected makers of fine timepieces. The chimes of the Chelsea Clock Ship's Bell, originally designed and patented in 1898, have long alerted U.S. Navy sailors and worldwide mariners to the time during their "watch," earning the company a distinguished reputation for producing authentic, high-quality nautical timepieces. Today, Chelsea Clock continues to produce a broad range of nautical and heirloom quality clocks, with styles ranging from the company's renowned Ship's Bell to classic reproductions and contemporary timepieces. The company's wide range of fine products is available through marine merchants, specialty shops, jewelers and gift stores, as well as online at www.ChlelseaClock.com. For more information about Chelsea Clock, call 1-866-899-2805 or visit www.ChelseaClock.com.

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