This past Saturday I went for a hike along a beach in Palos Verdes. Surprisingly, I was not there for a sun tan or even for the waves. I was there to see the S.S. Dominator.
Back in 1961, a ship by the name of the S.S. Dominator was transporting a cargo of meat and grains to Los Angeles. Due to an error in navigation, it crashed against the rocky shores of Palos Verdes. As the Coast Guards was unable to move the ship back into the water, it was left to decay, and what remains to today is the last of the ship.
The ship itself is an interesting representation of trade from Southern California to other parts of the world. Originally, it was built in Rhode Island to be used as a ship during WWII, but was then later sold by the U.S. to Panama. This is an interesting deal to think about, considering that during the 1960’s, Panama was rioting to retain their sovereignty from the United States, something that had been promised by JFK but was assassinated before it could be fully carried out. The United States had a strong military presence in Panama at the time of this wreckage, therefore it is interesting that they were unable to save the ship, but salvages were still able to auction off larger parts of the ship. The trade relationship between Panama and the U.S. mainly consisted of basic products, there wasn’t even a free trade agreement between the two countries until the early 2000s.
Although the ship itself has rusted to the point of barely forming a ship, it is certainly a testament to the history of foreign conflicts, trade, and another interesting footnote in Los Angeles’ history.