ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Inside the hull of the American Victory, you can find the ship’s Chaplain Gary Brooks. On most days, he’s giving a tour or relaying the stories he has about this iconic ship that once sailed during World War II. 

What You Need To Know

Brooks witnessed the day the ship arrived and docked in Tampa Bay in September 1999. He offered his expertise as a docent and he’s been here sharing the story of the ship ever since. 

“Prior to this, I was actually a docent on a Russian submarine here in St. Petersburg, so I came into this job with a bit of experience,” Brooks said. 

Twenty-three years later and Brooks is still walking the halls and telling stories of the American Victory. The ship served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the last months of World War II, and in both the Korean War and Vietnam War. 

It’s now a museum where guests can explore inside the ship and learn about its impressive history.

“It’s a unique experience for me because when I was a kid I wanted to be a merchant marine and I didn’t do it, not until I was here. So when we reactivated the ship and took it into the Gulf of Mexico, I joined the merchant marine and I passed the physical when I was 58 years old. And now here I am now,” Brooks said. 

The American Victory is open seven days a week. For more information, head to their website