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Liberty Ships

August 8, 2011
SS John W. Brown on the Great Lakes in 2000. J...

Copyright: Project Liberty Ship                                 Image via Wikimedia Commons

It has been a while since I posted something maritime related. (I still have to go get my Merchant Marine Forever Stamps…)

If you want an amazing day and a bit of living history I recommend taking a day cruise on one of the two remaining Liberty Ships: the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and the SS John W. Brown. Their websites offer current cruise information.

DH surprised me shortly after we were married with a day cruise on the SS John W. Brown. The day was beautiful and the sailing smooth. The re-enactors for FDR and Eleanor were great. The fly-by of the vintage planes was loud and thrilling. I got to purchase a t-shirt that has Walt Disney’s USMM illustration on the back. And one of DH’s professors from USMMA was volunteering down in the engine room so we got a personal tour.

What are Liberty Ships? (for more information besides the quoted text below, see www.usmm.org/libertyships.html)

“Liberty ship” was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for “Emergency” construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. Liberty ships were nicknamed “ugly ducklings” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The first of the 2,751 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry, launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass-produced design. The 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty ship, the SS Robert E. Peary was built in four and a half days. A Liberty cost under $2,000,000.

The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Her 5 holds could carry over 9,000 tons of cargo, plus airplanes, tanks, and locomotives lashed to its deck. A Liberty could carry 2,840 jeeps, 440 tanks, or 230 million rounds of rifle ammunition.

Liberty ships were named after prominent (deceased) Americans, starting with Patrick Henry and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 18 were named for outstanding African-Americans.

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