The SS Red Oak Victory in 1998 was rescued from an inevitable fate as industrial scrap and today is proudly on display at the Port of Richmond as the last example of the unprecedented industrial output of the Kaiser shipyards and its thousands of workers during World War II.
The cargo ship's unlikely path from workhorse during three wars, to an outdated relic, to the substantial restoration work done on its aging hull and fixtures, is told in a new exhibit opening this weekend at the Richmond Museum of History.
"SS Red Oak Victory: History, Conveyance and Restoration" opens with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 31 at the museum, 400 Nevin Ave. Admission is free. The display in the museum's refurbished Seaver Gallery, part of the buildup to the outing on the Red Oak set for Veterans Day on Nov. 11, promises to offer new insights on the shipyards, the Red Oak and its history, as well as plans for the future.
"There are a lot of cool items on display, everything is from our collection and many have never before been displayed," said museum director Melinda McCrary.
There will be vintage photos as well as modern day photos of the ship as it looked when it was in the Mothball Fleet and photos during and after its extensive exterior restoration.
Printed material and artifacts will give a look at the Richmond shipyards where the Red Oak was built and launched, and a map will show the duties the ship had after World War II, including its time in Korea and Vietnam and its service in the merchant marine.
The exhibit will be in place through Dec. 1. Regular museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
For those who want to go out on the Bay aboard the historic ship, spaces for the Nov. 11 tug-powered "sail" are still available as well.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: If you are looking to avoid traffic during the Bay Bridge closure by attending an event close to home, Actors Ensemble of Berkeley is holding free productions of "Fortinbras" at 4 p.m. Aug. 31, and Sept. 1 and 2 at John Hinkel Park, 41 Somerset Ave. in North Berkeley.
Michael R. Cohen directs the play by Lee Blessing that "begins where 'Hamlet' ends -- with the Norwegian prince Fortinbras appearing just as Hamlet expires in Horatio's arms."
Seating begins at 3 p.m. each day and seat reservations can be made by calling 510-649-5999.
The event at Mira Vista Country Club is the major fundraiser for the David Hunter Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Open House Senior Center. For updates call 510-559-7000.