Victory Ship Name Honored Coaldale and Coal Miners

Victory Ship Name Honored Coaldale and Coal Miners

(by Jack Yalch, Valley Gazette, March 1996)

A great American honor was bestowed upon the borough of Coaldale and the anthracite industry by the United States Government when in February of 1945 the SS Coaldale, a victory ship, was launched at the Bethlehem Steel-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore, MD.

Complete details of the launching are difficult to find. However, on Feb. 16, 1945, James “Casey” Gildea wrote in his weekly newspaper the Coaldale Observer, that on Feb. 21 Regina Miller, the daughter of a Coaldale miner, would smash a bottle of champagne across the bow of the vessel as part of a traditional ship-christening ceremony.

According to Gildea, the SS Coaldale was built in recognition of the outstanding production achievements by the anthracite miners during World War II. Anthracite was vital to the war effort and national defense.

Gildea stated that no better justification of a historic statement made by United Mine Workers Union President John L. Lewis—“Anthracite miners will never take a backward step”—was needed.

The SS Coaldale was 455 feet long, weighed 7,612 tons and would carry 1,600 passengers. It had a top speed of 17 knots. A history of Coaldale Borough was entered in its first log.

From 1943 to 1945, a total of 531 victory ships were built. They were designed to carry war cargo but the SS Coaldale was converted to a troop transport. Initially, it made runs to the European Theater of War bringing U.S. military personnel home.

Late in 1945, the SS Coaldale began operating in the Pacific Theater of War and continued that service until 1948 when it was sold and renamed the Nanking Victory. The ship was resold three more times, its last name being the Hong Kong Mariner in 1962.

Finally, in August of 1972, it was taken to Taiwan and cut up for scrap—a sad ending for a ship that had served our nation with dignity

1945 COALDALE VICTORY, U.S. War Shipping Admin., Baltimore.(American Export Line) troop transport.

1946 Laid up James River.(Following name changes and owners.)

1948 NANKING VICTORY, China Union Lines Ltd, Shanghai / Keelung.

1951 HASSAN, Fidelity Steamship Co, Panama.

1952 APPINGEDIJK, Holland America Line, Rotterdam.

1954 APPINGEDYK, same owners.

1962 HONGKONG MARINER, Overseas Maritime Co, Monrovia.

1972 Scrapped Taiwan

Daily Newspaper on SS Coaldale Troop Ship – March 25, 1945 – Atlantic Ocean

Leaving Camp Kilmer by train, we traveled to a port somewhere on the Hudson River and boarded the “USS Coaldale”

troop-ship on March 21. Going up the gang plank, hovering over the space between the dock and the ship, I was tottering

along with my duffle-bag plus the trombone that I had purchased in Spartanburg. We crossed the Atlantic and sailed to Le

Havre, France, arriving on March 30, 1946, a distance of 3273 miles, traveling at an average speed of 17.30 knots. The “USS

Coaldale” was one of numerous troop-ships built hurriedly during World War II. The keel was laid on December 28, 1944,

launched two months later on February 23, 1945 and delivered on March 23, 1945. It would be interesting to know just

how many crossings of the Atlantic it had before we boarded it just a year later.

On board “USS Coaldale” – A Pick-up Band with accordion, clarinet, guitar, trombone.

While on board, I was assigned to the Special Services Unit which made public address system announcements and

published the daily newssheet “The Coaldale Tale.” nIt was a very easy assignment for me. Each day I reported to the office

where the newssheet was typed and mimeographed. The one copy of the newssheet which I saved was of the ninth day at

sea with 398 miles yet to go. Being that we had a lot of time on our hands, I decided that I would begin to read through the

Bible. Having committed my life to Christ during the summer of 1944, I believed that I was being called to the ministry of

Jesus Christ. Possibly it would be a preaching ministry. But now I felt that my future was being put on hold and I was

somewhat troubled. Here I was with a lot of foul-mouth soldiers when I could be living among Christians and serving the

Lord. When I got to Genesis 37 and read of Joseph being sold by his brothers, I identified with him. What good could come

out of that? But as I read further, I saw what God was able to do through him even while away from family and home. I

soon saw the same thing in my own life - a story that is told in the part of my memoirs in the booklet, “Frankfurt Youth For


(Editor and writer of the newsletter was William Zulker.)