Permanente Silverbow

The Permanente Steamship Corp. was organized in 1940 by businessman Henry Kaiser to provide the millions of barrels of cement needed by his company to build scores of U.S. military facilities in the Pacific.

After the war, the company acquired Silverbow Victory, a VC-2 Victory-type freighter built in 1944, and converted it into a self-unloading bulk carrier at the Kaiser & Co. shipyard in Portland, Or., to carry bulk cement and gypsum for Kaiser’s ambitious construction projects sited all along the U.S. West Coast. 

Renamed Permanente Silverbow, the ship featured specially-engineered pneumatic equipment that ‘blew’ cement into and out of its holds, while elevators and boom conveyors were fitted for unloading raw gypsum and crushed rock. 

The equipment gave the 445-foot ship the capability of unloading 2,000 barrels of bulk cement or 500 tons of crushed rock per hour with the ship hailed in the industry press as having “the most modern loading and unloading machinery of any bulk carrier in the Pacific.”

Permanente Silverbow, along with two other ships – Permanente Cement and Diamond Cement – loaded their gypsum cargoes at a quarry on San Marcos Island in the Gulf of California, while cement in bulk was taken aboard at a Kaiser storage facility in Oakland for transport to numerous Kaiser construction projects from Alaska to California. 

Acquired by Panamanian interests in 1972, the ship was renamed Florida Silverbow and sailed as a cement carrier until 1985 when it was sold for scrapping in Brownsville, Tx. 

Interestingly, the first ship in the pre-war Permanente Steamship fleet was the steamer Ancon, which was originally operated by the Panama Railroad Steamship Line.

The ship made history in 1914 as the first ocean-going ship to officially transit the newly-opened Panama Canal. 

Ancon was acquired by Permanente Steamship in 1939 and renamed Permanente. 

The ship changed hands, and names, several times after the end of World War II and went to the breaker’s yard in Savona, Italy, in 1950.