Image of SS Dominator shipwreck off Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1961

The SS Dominator started its seafaring life as a Liberty Ship in 1944, built by the Walsh-Kaiser Company shipyard in Providence, Rhode Island.

That seafaring life ended in 1961 on the rocks of the Palos Verdes Peninsula in California.

It was determined that a navigational error in the fog led to the ship’s loss. And its remains are still visible today, accessible to hikers and kayakers.

The ship that was to be SS Dominator went through several names. It was first the Melville Jacoby, a journalist who was killed in an airplane crash in 1942. In 1947, the ship was sold and renamed SS Victoria, serving as a cargo ship. In 1950, it became SS North Queen. Finally, in 1953, the ship became SS Dominator.

It was March 13, 1961 when the ship had just left the Port of Los Angeles steaming to Vancouver, BC, Canada with a load of wheat and beef that it went aground on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The crew stayed on board two days while the Coast Guard and tugboats tried to refloat the vessel. But the effort was futile because of heavy seas and the crew abandoned ship.

It remains were auctioned, including its hull and cargo—separately. That led to conflicts between the salvors.

Eventually the remains broke up under the heavy seas and large portions of the ship were scattered along the shoreline.

What remains of the wreck is accessible from a Shipwreck Hiking Trail that begins at Paseo del Mar and Cloyden Road in Palos Verdes Estates at 33.781849, -118.421059. Click here for a map showing the location of the remains.

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