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Council To Decide Ship's Fate
August 4, 1998



Tuesday, August 4, 1998
Section: news
Page: A04
Shawn Masten
Caption: Photo. Capt. James Nolan, who wants to restore the Red Oak Victory, photographed it in 1997 after raising the flag on the 455-foot cargo ship. (Mark DuFrene/Times file).

RICHMOND The City Council is likely to decide today whether to bring the Red Oak Victory ship home.

City staff members had canceled plans to temporarily dock the 53-year-old vessel at the Port of Richmond until a permanent berth can be found, but at least two council members say bring it on.

 "Instead of being enthusiastic and saying let's make this thing work, (city staff members) are sitting back not providing any answers," Councilman Nat Bates said.

"I don't know what the agenda is here, but I think this is a part of what we should be doing to market the city's shoreline and its history," Councilman Tom Butt said.

The Richmond Museum Association has been trying to bring the Red Oak to Richmond for two years. Used in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, it is the only vessel still afloat of the 741 ships built in Richmond during World War II.

In 1996, the federal Maritime Administration gave the 455-foot gray cargo ship to the museum with a September 1998 deadline to move it from its current berth in Suisun Bay. It has been mothballed there since it was taken out of service in the 1960s.

The association had planned to temporarily dock the ship at Terminal One at the Port of Richmond beginning Aug. 30, but city officials put a halt to that plan, saying they hadn't given the group permission to dock there.

The association has been looking at Point Molate as a possible permanent home and Terminal One as a temporary one, but city staff members haven't given the OK for either location.

Questions about the feasibility of the association's restoration plan and the city's liability for the ship remain.

But supporters say those questions are surmountable.

"Those are minor problems," Bates said. "If you don't want something to happen, then you can come up with all kinds of reasons why it shouldn't."

Both sites are the focus of major plans to develop the city's 32-mile shoreline.

Richmond just started negotiating with Shea Homes for the purchase, cleanup and development of Terminal One.

The city hopes to turn the 14-acre former tank farm into a upscale housing development.

Shea Homes has offered $6.5 million for it and agreed to pay up to $1 million for environmental testing and cleanup.

The city is anxiously awaiting approval by the federal government of its reuse plans for Point Molate.

A combination of housing, parks and businesses are planned for the 412-acre site, a former Navy depot.