The Story of the S.S. Hobbs Victory
During World War II, the United States shipyards produced over 500 cargo ships, dubbed "Victory Ships" to replace the many cargo ships that were destroyed by German submarines.  There were 218 of these ships named after American cities, and one was named the S.S. Hobbs Victory, after the city of Hobbs, New Mexico.  Because the Atlantic battle had been largely won by the time the Victory Ships were built, few of them were sunk.  However, the S.S. Hobbs Victory was one lost to a kamakazi attack, just two months after its delivery date.

On April 6, 1945, while anchored off Kerama Rhetto, between Hikaji Shima and Koba Shima off Okinawa, because "Logan Victory" had been attacked and hit an hour earlier in the same anchorage, the "Hobbs Victory" was ordered to a new anchorage. She was underway at 15 knots when a plane crashed into her at 6:50 p.m. It hit on the port side just forward of the No. 4 lifeboat on the boat deck. There was an immediate and huge explosion which tore off the port side of the midship house and boat deck. The port boiler blew up rendering the engine useless. The ship was entirely aflame when she was abandoned on the captains orders. Those who had not already jumped overboard lowered the starboard lifeboats to the rail and put the injured on board. The remaining men then entered the lifeboats and, when the ship had slowed to a safe speed, launched successfully. Meanwhile, a Navy fireboat fought the inferno for four hours until the fire went out of control. Early the following morning the ship exploded and sank. Eleven crew and one Navy man were lost in this incident.

Thanks to Bud Shortridge, U S Naval Fighting Ship History Hobbiest for this account of the attack and sinking of the Hobbs Victory.

Built by Permanente Metals Corporation in
Richmond, California across the bay from San Francisco.
Maritime Commission Hull Number: 599
Ship Type: VC2-S-AP2
Engine: General Electric Co.
Operator: Sudden & Christenson
Type: AP2 Freighter
Keel laid November 10, 1944
Launched January 9, 1945
Delivered February 5, 1945
Total days to build: 87

Voyage: San Francisco to Okinawa via Ulithi Atoll
Cargo: Army ammunition
Complement: fifty-six crew, twenty-seven Armed Guard
Master: Kenneth Izant

Dedication and Launch of the
S.S. Hobbs Victory
January 9, 1945

When Victory Ships were launched during World War II it was traditional to invite a guest of honor to act as "sponsor" for the ship launching.  Often the sponsors chosen were women, and many times with a special connection to the city the ship was named for, or to men who served in armed forces.  In the case of the S.S. Hobbs Victory, the sponsor was Mrs. L.B. Pribble, whose sons were both serving overseas.  Foy E. Pribble had been reported missing in action in 1942 and was being held in a Japanese prison camp at the time of the launching. 

From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, February 4, 1945:

Sgt Foy E. Pribble, former student at Texas Technological college, reported missing in action after the fall of the Philippines in 1942, has written his parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. B. Pribble of Hobbs, N. M., from a Japanese prison camp, at Osaka, Japan, that he is well and very much alive. A cousin, E. T. Pribble, lives at 1901 Twenty-sixth. Sgt. Pribble wrote that he had received last May a package mailed to him in August of 1943. He requested certain foods, peanut butter, honey, powdered milk, canned meats, dried fruits and candy. He also asked for sulfa drugs and other medicines. A brother of the prisoner, Pfc. Iris Pribble, is stationed in the Aleutians. Iris also is a former Tech student. The brothers own a floral shop in Hobbs, now managed by their mother. Mr. Pribble carried a rural mail route out of Hamlin but spends much of his time in Hobbs.

Foy Pribble and his brother Iris Pribble both survived the war and returned to Hobbs to resume work in their flower business, which Mrs. Pribble managed while the brothers were serving overseas.

Mrs. Pribble traveled to Richmond, California for the launching ceremony and was given a commemorative book of photographs recording the event.  A special thanks to Debbie (Pribble) Lawson and Leslie (Pribble) Gerhardt Cryer, granddaughters of Mrs. Pribble for scanning each of the photographs shown below and allowing us to display them to tell the story of the launching of this historic ship.

(Click any picture below to enlarge)

The Harmonettes provided entertainment at the event.

Mr. & Mrs. L.B. Pribble

The Harmonettes serenade the ship as it is launched

The waterline of a Victory ship.

A line of Victory Ships during the height of production.

Mr. & Mrs. L.B. Pribble

The Pribble Brothers in the family flower shop

Mrs. L.B. Pribble

Mrs. Pribble's grandchildren at play in the flower shop.

Foy and Iris Pribble on the grounds of Lea General Hospital at 1701 N. Turner.

To learn more about Victory Ships and Navy history, please visit
  Bud Shortridge's Navy Aricles Blog
Bud Shortridge's Merchant Ship History Site

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