The Liberty Ships

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Angus Mac Kinnon
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The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:03 pm


The Delta Shipbuilding Company of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, which was to consist of six slipways (later increased to eight) was one of nine new shipyards for which building approval was given by the United States Maritime Commission (USMC) early in 1941 under the emergency shipbuilding programme. Under this emergency programme, a total of 2,700 ships were built. The new Yard was operated by the management and key personnel of the American Shipbuilding Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, a leading shipbuilder on the Great Lakes. Under the control of the new management from ASB, the subsidiary Company, Delta Shipbuilding, was formed. Supplemented by local employment, the Yard workforce grew to more than 13,000 employees by June 1942. Delta specialised in 100% welded construction and, as launchings were into a relatively narrow channel, the ships from this Yard were launched by the sideways method – see photograph of S.S. SAMUEL DEXTER being launched by this method in March 1943.

Built as Yard No. 42, the S.S. Samuel Dexter was one of 132 Liberty Cargo Ships built at Delta Shipbuilding Company. Delta were also later involved in the design of the Liberty oil tanker, then the Liberty collier, and was subsequently to build a total of 32 Liberty Tankers and 24 Liberty Colliers, before the yard was shut down in 1945. Although not renowned as one of the fastest of the Amercian shipbuilders, nevertheless the facts are impressive, if not astonishing. During the three years of its existence, the output of ships from the New Orleans Yard of Delta averaged slightly more than five per month, or a ship every six days of its existence.

The S.S. Samuel Dexter, Call Sign KKMB, was owned by the United States War Shipping Administration and managed by the Waterman Steamship Company of Mobile, Alabama. She was named after Samuel Dexter, an American jurist and politician (born 1761 – died 1816) who went on to serve as the United States Secretary of War in 1800, and Secretary of the Treasury in 1801.

Her keel was laid down at the Delta yard on 16th February 1943. Launching took place on 29th March 1943, and final delivery on 15th April 1943. Build time to delivery stage : 58 days.

Only nine months after entering service, the S.S. Samuel Dexter came to grief during bad weather in the Atlantic.

On the night of 21st of January 1944, whilst on a passage lightship from Cardiff to New York, and in a position reported as 54’ 48” North, 22’ 45” West, the S.S. Samuel Dexter, Official No. 243200, was experiencing heavy weather in high seas, with Force 8 WSW gale conditions.

At 21:00 hours, the deck stated to crack open opposite No. 3 hatch. With this discovery, the ship was turned to put her stern to the sea and she was hove to with 47 RPM on the engine. At 21:16 hours, the deck started to crack at the No. 4 hatch. In the daylight of the 22nd January 1944, a thorough examination was carried out and showed the following structural defects :

Two cracks from the forward corners of the No. 3 hatch had propogated across the deck and down her side to a point below the second deck, on both the port and starboard sides.

The crack at the port/aft corner of No. 3 hatch was in fact three separate cracks and it could not be determined where these cracks originated.

The crack across the deck from the starboard/forward corner of No. 4 hatch ran down her side to a point below the waterline.

During the period 22nd to 24th January 1944, the weather moderated and a watch was kept on the cracks, which were seen to be gradually increasing, opening and closing about one inch in the seaway.

With a forecast of further bad weather on 24th January 1944, the decision was taken to abandon ship and this operation took place between 15:30 – 16:30 hours on the afternoon of 24th January 1944.

On board the stricken vessel, under the command of Captain Delaware L. Hurston, there was a total complement of 70 men, comprising a crew of 42 officers and ratings, and 28 armed guards/gunners.

The armed trawler, HMS Sapper, picked up the entire complement and proceeded to Liverpool where they were landed, and later repatriated to the USA.

The drifting S.S. Samuel Dexter meantime, despite the serious fractures that had opened up and adverse weather conditions, remained afloat and intact, eventually coming ashore near Scurrival Point on the West side of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in late January 1944.

In 1945, work began on breaking up the S.S. Samuel Dexter where she lay. This work was undertaken by a salvage company from mainland Scotland, who brought salvage vessels and equipment to Barra for the operations. The salvage operation took more than six months to complete.

The cut-up steel was transported from the West side of the Island to the East side, at Eoligarry, to be loaded on board shallow-draught vessels for onward transportation to the breaker’s yard. The principal vessel involved in this work was the Myles K. Burton, and it is believed the small vessels Usk and Cushag were also engaged in the work.

Design particulars of the Liberty Dry Cargo Type EC2-S-C1 Ship

Construction Basis : Full scantling type with raked stem, cruiser stern and single screwshaft
Cargo Holds : Five holds with seven watertight bulkheads extended to upper deck
Machinery & Boilers : Located in a single midships compartment
Tanks : Fore and aft peak tanks and three deep tanks
Fuel and Ballast : Inner bottom tanks, six on each side, with settling tanks at side of Boilers
No. 1 Hold : 60’ 9” x 19’ 10” 84,181 cu. ft. (grain) 75,405 cu. ft. (bale)
No. 2 Hold : 70’ 6” x 19’ 10” 145,604 cu. ft. (grain) 134,638 cu. ft. (bale)
No. 3 Hold : 50’ 0” x 19’ 10” 96,429 cu. ft. (grain) 83,697 cu. ft. (bale)
No. 4 Hold : 45’ 0” x 19’ 10” 94,118 cu. ft. (grain) 82,263 cu. ft. (bale)
No. 5 Hold : 70’ 0” x 19’ 10” 93,190 cu. ft. (grain) 82,435 cu. ft. (bale)
Hatches : Wooden hatches supported on portable hatch support beams
Accommodation : Three-Deck high midship Superstructure plus single aft deckhouse
Gun Platforms : Forward, Aft and Bridge Wings
Measurements : Length overall 441’ 6”
Length between perpendiculars 417’ 9”
Length registered 422’ 8”
Length on waterline 427’ 0”
Breadth moulded 56’ 11”
Breadth extreme 57’ 0”
Depth – moulded to upper deck 37’ 4”
Depth – moulded to second deck 28’ 7”
Draft original 26’ 10”
Draft as classed 27’ 9”
Freeboard 9’ 9”
Tonnages : Registered 7,176 (gross) 4,380 (nett)
US Measurement 7,191 (gross) 4,309 (nett)
Deadweight – as planned 10,414
Deadweight – as classed 10,865
Displacement 14,245
Anchors : Two, each weighing 8,400 lbs (3.75 tons) with 2 inch chain diameter
Propeller : One, 4-bladed, with a diameter of 18’ 6” and mean pitch of 16’ 0”
Masts : 3 : Height above bottom of keel plate : 82 ft. Telescopic masts : 102 ft.
Booms : 5 ton SWL x 55 ft. length at fore and aft masts, port & starboard sides
5 ton SWL x 47 ft. length at No. 3 hatch
15 ton, 30 ton and 50 ton SWL x 51 ft. length on centreline
Winches : Steam-operated
Lifeboats : 4 x 24 ft. steel construction, located amidships on Boatdeck

Main Engine : Direct-Acting, Condensing, 3-Cylinder Triple-Expansion Reciprocating
Engine Manufacturer :Filer & Stowell Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Cylinders & Stroke : 24.5” x 37” x 70” with a piston stroke of 48”
Indicated Horsepower :2,500 @ 76 RPM
Fuel Consumption : 30 tons per day (Bunker ‘C’ Oil burning)
Vessel Speed : 11 knots
Boilers : 2 x cross-drum sectional sinuous header straight-tube superheated design
Boiler Capacity : 220 lbs per square inch pressure x 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Total Heating Surface:10,234 square feet (both Boiler units)
Generators : 3 x 25 Kw units, 400 RPM, generating DC power : 167 amperes / 120 volts
Evaporator : 1 x 25 tons/day, vertical submerged-coil type
Distiller : 1 x 6,000 gallons/day capacity
Refrigeration : 1 x Compressor

Typical Layout and Configuration of the Liberty Cargo Ship

Bridge Deck :
Wheelhouse, Chartroom, Radio Room, Captain’s Room, Battery Room, Toilet, Captain’s Office, Deck Cadet’s Room, Radio Operator’s Room, Spare Room, Generator Room, Stores Room.

Boat Deck :
Chief Engineer’s Room, Chief Engineer’s Office, 1st Engineer’s Room, Chief Officer’s Room, 2nd Engineer’s Room, 3rd Engineer’s Room, 2nd Officer’s Room, 3rd Officer’s Room, Chief Steward’s Room, Engineering Cadet’s Room, Shower & Toilets, Gunnery Officer’s Room, Locker.

Upper Deck :
Lamp Room and Deck Lockers, Officer’s Mess Room, Room for six Gunners (Port Side), Room for Cooks and Stewards, Showers & Toilets, Room for Oilers, Room for Seamen, Room for Bosun and Clerk/Typist, Room for Messmen, Ship’s Office, Galley, P.O.’s Showers & Toilets, Room for six Gunners (Starboard Side), Room for Steward, P.O.’s Mess Room, Scullery Room, Crews Mess Room, Deck Engineers and Oilers Room, Room for Firemen, Paint Room and Lockers.

Aft Deckhouse :
Rooms for two Gunners, Showers & Toilets, Hospital Room, Medical Stores Room

Delta-built Liberty vessels lost due to WWII enemy action


006 Benjamin Contee 08-1942 Aircraft torpedo attack on 16-08-1943
014 Thomas Scott 10-1942 Aircraft bombing attack on 17-02-1945
016 Thomas Sinnickson 11-1942 Torpedoed by U-185 on 07-07-1943
017 Jonathan Sturges 11-1942 Torpedoed by U-707 on 23-02-1943
022 Samuel Jordan Kirkwood 12-1942 Torpedoed by U-195 on 07-05-1943
024 Pat Harrison 01-1943 Italian limpet mine attack on 08-05-1943
028 Wade Hampton 12-1942 Torpedoed by U-405 on 28-02-1943
034 Black Hawk 02-1943 Torpedoed by U-772 on 29-12-1944
036 Walter Q. Gresham 02-1943 Torpedoed by U-221 on 18-03-1943
037 Richard Olney 02-1943 Mined on 22-09-1943
038 Robert Bacon 03-1943 Torpedoed by U-178 on 14-07-1943
091 Leif Ericson 12-1943 Sunk by kamikaze aircraft on 30-12-1944
157 James Eagan Layne 12-1944 Torpedoed by U-1195 on 21-03-1945

Delta-built Liberty vessels lost due to other causes


042 Samuel Dexter 03-1943 24-01-1944 – abandoned due to breaking up
054 Charles Henderson 05-1943 09-04-1945 – exploded and sank at Bari
069 Tobias E. Stansbury 09-1943 17-02-1967 – aground at Topar Isalnd
072 William E. Pendleton 10-1943 04-04-1969 – aground at Toshima
085 Horace H. Harvey 12-1943 31-12-1959 – aground near Berlangkap
100 Rufus E. Foster 03-1944 20-02-1960 – aground on Vlieland Island
101 R. S. Wilson 03-1944 21-12-1945 – aground at Boston Harbour
103 George A. Marr 03-1944 07-02-1965 – abandoned due to leaks and sank
114 Edwin A. Stevens 06-1944 11-07-1949 – ashore in fog at Point Arguello
117 Frank Adair Monroe 07-1944 04-06-1960 – aground on the Serrana Bank
132 Ancil F. Haines 10-1944 28-04-1961 – abandoned after listing
134 Am-Mer-Mar 09-1944 27-12-1946 – ashore near Lindesnaes
143 Ales Hrdlicka 11-1944 25-01-1964 – stranded at Gaidhouronisi Island
150 Sewanee Seam 04-1945 25-12-1969 – aground / broke up - Shark River
152 Helena Modjeska 12-1944 12-09-1946 – Aground on the Goodwin Sands
154 William H. Kendrick 12-1944 21-01-1965 – Abandoned due to breaking up
155 Andreas Honcharenko 12-1944 07-12-1966 – On fire near Kobe, japan
163 John C. Preston 01-1945 26-10-1962 – Aground on Banc les Quencos

The fate of other Delta-built vessels

001 William C. C. Claiborne 05-1942 1961 – Scrapped at Seattle
002 T. J. Jackson 06-1942 1960 – Scrapped at Boston
003 Thomas B. Robertson 07-1942 1970 – Scrapped at New Orleans
004 Abraham Baldwin 07-1942 Placed in Naval Reserve Fleet
005 Theodoric Bland 07-1942 1963 – Scrapped at New Orleans
007 George Gale 08-1942 1970 – Scrapped at Portland
008 William B. Giles 08-1942 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
009 Jonathan Grout 09-1942 1970 – Scrapped at New Orleans
010 Daniel Huger 09-1942 Placed in Naval Reserve Fleet
011 George Leonard 09-1942 1964 – Scrapped at New Orleans
012 Andrew Moore 10-1942 1963 – Scrapped at Philadelphia
013 Josiah Parker 10-1942 1964 – Scrapped at Aioi
015 Joshua Seney 10-1942 1962 – Scrapped at New Orleans
018 Jonathan Trumbull 11-1942 1970 – Scrapped at Panama City
019 John Viking 11-1942 1960 – Scrapped at Baltimore
020 Alexander White 12-1942 1964 – Scrapped at Portland
021 Henry Wynkoop 12-1942 1958 – Scrapped at Baltimore
023 Abraham Lincoln 12-1942 1967 – Scrapped at Mobile
025 Leonidas Polk 01-1943 1965 – Scrapped at New Orleans
026 Charles Brantley Aycock 09-1942 1962 – Scrapped at Tacoma
027 William Blount 09-1942 1970 – Scrapped at Brownsville
029 Richmond Mumford Pearson 11-1942 1963 – Scrapped at Tacoma
030 David G. Farragut 01-1943 1971 – Scrapped at Bilbao
031 Mayo Brothers 12-1942 1965 – Scrapped at Panama City
032 William Harper 02-1943 1972 – Scrapped at New York
033 Pierre Soule 02-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Mobile
035 Robert M. La Foulette 02-1943 1972 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
039 Philander C. Knox 03-1943 1961 – Scrapped at Hamburg
040 Lucius Q. C. Lamar 03-1943 1967 – Scrapped at Tacoma
041 James McHenry 03-1943 1970 – Scrapped at Tacoma
043 Roger Griswold 03-1943 1972 – Scrapped at New York
044 Timothy Bloodworth 04-1943 1963 – Scrapped at Portland
045 Elias Boudinot 03-1943 1962 – Scrapped at Baltimore
046 Aedanus Burke 04-1943 1964 – Scrapped at New Orleans
047 Thomas Fitzsimons 04-1943 1964 – Scrapped at Portland
048 Henry Groves Connor 04-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Hong Kong
049 William M. Evarts 05-1943 1961 – Scrapped at Baltimore
050 F. T. Frelinghuysen 05-1943 1960 – Scrapped at Baltimore
051 Tarleton Brown 04-1943 1967 – Converted to crane barge in USA
052 Henry S. Foote 05-1943 1960 – Scrapped at Nagasaki
053 James E. Howard 05-1943 1971 – Scrapped at Bordentown
055 Robert Lowry 05-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Portland
056 George Poindexter 05-1943 1967 – Scrapped at Tacoma
057 John A. Quitman 06-1943 1973 – Scrapped at Cleveland
058 John Sharp Williams 06-1943 1961 – Scrapped at Panama City
059 Julien Poydras 05-1943 1971 – Scrapped at Bilbao
060 Richard M. Johnson 06-1943 Placed in Naval Reserve Fleet
061 Joseph N. Nicollet 06-1943 1959 – Scrapped at Baltimore
062 Edward Sparrow 06-1943 1973 – Scrapped at Bilbao
063 John McDonogh 07-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
064 George W. Kendall 09-1943 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
065 Mary Ashley Townsend 09-1943 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
066 Andrew Marschalk 10-1943 1968 – still trading as ‘Kriti’
067 John Stagg 09-1943 1968 – Scrapped at Hirao
068 Jacob Thompson 10-1943 1968 – Scrapped at Minatitlan
070 Lafcadio Hearn 09-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
071 David Holmes 10-1943 1967 – Scrapped at Mukaijima
073 Irwin Russell 10-1943 1962 – Scrapped at Hirao
074 Henry L. Ellsworth 11-1943 1968 – Scrapped at Minatitlan
075 Reginald A. Fessenden 10-1943 1964 – Scrapped at Vado following collision
076 William Crompton 11-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Spezia
077 Andrew A. Humphreys 11-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Onomichi
078 Joseph Goldenberger 10-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
079 Oscar S. Straus 11-1943 1970 – Scrapped at Pusan
080 Thomas F. Cunningham 12-1943 1965 – Scrapped at Hirao
081 Jean Baptiste Le Moyne 12-1943 1962 – Scrapped at Sakai
082 Albert G. Brown 11-1943 1960 – Scrapped at Hirao
083 Eliza Jane Nicholson 11-1943 1967 – Scrapped at Terminal Island
084 Paul Tulane 12-1943 1969 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
086 Charles A. Wickliffe 12-1943 1971 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
087 William B. Bankhead 12-1943 1965 – Scrapped at Porto Alegre
088 Judah Touro 12-1943 1967 – Scrapped at Salaide
089 Mason L. Weems 01-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Hong Kong
090 Opie Read 12-1943 1968 – Scrapped at Hirao
092 J. C. W. Beckham 01-1944 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
093 Norman O. Pedrick 02-1944 1970 – Scrapped at Burriana
094 Eugene W. Hilgard 01-1944 1971 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
095 Leon Godchaux 02-1944 1968 – Scrapped at Portland
096 Jean Louis 02-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Portland
097 Linn Boyd 03-1944 1967 – Scrapped at Mobile
098 Warren Stone 02-1944 1971 – Scrapped at Burriana
099 James B. Aswell 03-1944 1971 – Scrapped at Hsinkang
102 Harry Toulmim 04-1944 1967 – Scrapped at Shanghai
104 Andres Almonaster 03-1944 1968 – Scrapped at Shanghai
105 John M. Parker 04-1944 1958 – Scrapped at Oakland
106 Cecil N. Bean 04-1944 1967 – Scrapped at Utsumi
107 Mollie Moore Davis 04-1944 1970 – Scrapped at Portland
108 Kochab 04-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Richmond
109 Jacques Phillipe Villere 04-1944 1972 – Scrapped at Portland
110 Charles W. Wooster 05-1944 1969 – Scrapped at Brownsville
111 W. C. Latta 05-1944 1961 – Scrapped at Wilmington
112 Andew Stevenson 05-1944 1972 – Scrapped at Cleveland
113 William Wheelwright 06-1944 Placed in Naval Reserve Fleet
115 Alexander W. Doniphan 07-1944 1964 – Scrapped at Philadelphia
116 Amasa Delano 07-1944 1968 – Scrapped at Onomichi
118 Cyrus Adler 07-1944 1960 – Scrapped at Baltimore
119 George W. Alther 07-1944 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
120 Robert W. Bingham 07-1944 1959 – Scrapped at New Orleans
121 Collin McKinney 08-1944 1967 – Scrapped at Portland
122 Walker D. Hines 07-1944 1970 – Scuttled in Atlantic with ammunition cargo
123 Alcee Fortier 08-1944 1964 – Scrapped at New Orleans
124 Milton B. Medary 08-1944 1966 – Scrapped at Philadelphia
125 Ferdinand R. Hassler 08-1944 1972 – Scrapped at Panama City
126 O. L. Bodenhamer 08-1944 Placed in Naval Reserve Fleet
127 Frederick Von Steuben 08-1944 1961 – Scrapped at Hamburg
128 Floyd W. Spencer 09-1944 1960 – Scrapped in Japan
129 Milton H. Smith 09-1944 1972 – Scrapped at Castellon
130 E. G. Hall 09-1944 1960 – Scrapped at Baltimore
131 Robert F. Broussard 09-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Philadelphia
133 George Pomutz 09-1944 1970 – Scrapped at Barcelona
135 Sieur De La Salle 10-1944 1966 – Scrapped at Panama City
136 Isaac Delgado 09-1944 1969 – Scrapped at Panama City
137 Christian Bergh 10-1944 1967 – Scrapped at Aioi
138 Alfred J. Evans 10-1944 1971 – Scrapped at Brownsville
139 Katharine B. Sherwood 10-1944 1966 – Scrapped at Terminal Island
140 J. Rufino Barrios 11-1944 1967 – Scrapped at Portland
141 Thomas P. Leathers 10-1944 1968 – Scrapped at Kearny
142 Jagger Seam 04-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
144 Benjamin Silliman 10-1944 1971 – Scrapped at Bilbao
145 King Hathaway 11-1944 1971 – Scrapped at Gandia
146 William Hackett 11-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Portland
147 George W. Cable 11-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Portland
148 Joseph Weydemeyer 11-1944 1961 – Scrapped at New Orleans
149 John W. Draper 11-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Richmond
151 Sam Dale 12-1944 Placed in Naval Reserve Fleet
153 Martin Behrman 12-1944 1965 – Scrapped at Portland
156 Nachman Syrkin 01-1945 1967 – Scrapped at Hong Kong
158 Herrin Seam 06-1945 1967 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
159 Carl Zachary Webb 01-1945 1963 – Scrapped at Panama City
160 Benjamin A. Fisher 12-1944 1966 – Scrapped at Portland
161 William W. McKee 01-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
162 La Salle Seam 03-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Santander
164 Darel M. Ritter 02-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Keelung
165 Frank E. Spencer 01-1945 1967 – Scrapped at Hirao
166 Streator Seam 08-1945 1969 – Scrapped at Bilbao
167 Roy K. Johnson 02-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
168 Linton Seam 04-1945 1964 – Scrapped at Bilbao
169 Donald S. Wright 03-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Hirao
170 Redstone Seam 05-1945 1965 – Scrapped at Castellon
171 Laurence J. Gallagher 05-1945 1966 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
172 Jewel Seam 05-1945 1967 – Scrapped at Sakaide
173 Merrimac Seam 05-1945 1970 – Scrapped at New Orleans
174 Jellicoe Seam 10-1945 1967 – Scrapped at Hamburg
175 Bon Air Seam 05-1945 1965 – Scrapped at Hirao
176 Glamorgan Seam 06-1945 1968 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
177 Sewell Seam 06-1945 1964 – converted to Barge ‘Eastern 4’
178 Beckley Seam 07-1945 1971 – still trading in US as Barge ‘Eastern 3’
179 Pocahontas Seam 06-1945 1972 – Scrapped at Split
180 Eagle Seam 07-1945 1980 – Scrapped at Kaohsiung
181 Powellton Seam 07-1945 1963 – Scrapped at Hirao
182 Chliton Seam 08-1945 1963 – Scrapped at Hirao
183 Banner Seam 07-1945 1962 – Scrapped at Kearny
184 Roda Seam 10-1945 1972 – Scrapped at Split
185 Imboden Seam 08-1945 1972 – Scrapped at Santander
186 Freeport Seam 09-1945 1963 – Scrapped at Hirao
187 Mingo Seam 09-1945 1967 – Scrapped at Split
188 Pittsburg Seam 09-1945 1962 – converted to Barge ‘Arlington’

Note :

The above placements reflect the known position as of the early 1970’s. The ultimate disposition of those vessels returned to the USMC after WWII and placed in the ‘Mothball Fleet’ of naval reserves is not known sufficiently well at this point.

Delta-built Liberty Ships converted to Animal Transports :

110 Charles W. Wooster 1944
123 Alcee Forthier 1944

Delta-built Liberty Ships converted to Troopships

003 Thomas B. Robertson 1942
005 Theodoric Bland 1942
006 BenjaminContee 1942
008 William B. Giles 1942
009 Jonathan Grout 1942
010 Daniel Huger 1942
011 George Leonard 1942
012 Andrew Moore 1942
015 Joshua Seney 1942
018 Jonathan Trumbull 1942
023 Abraham Lincoln 1942
026 Charles Brantley Aycock 1942
027 William Blount 1942
030 David G. Farragut 1943
031 Mayo Brothers 1942
033 Pierre Soule 1943
037 Richard Olney 1943
048 Henry Groves Connor 1943
049 William M. Evarts 1943
051 Tarleton Brown 1943

The other builders of Liberty Ships in alphabetical order :

Alabama Dry Dock Company, Mobile, Alabama
Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Incorporated Baltimore, Maryland
California Shipbuilding Corporation, Los Angeles, California
J. A. Jones Construction Company, Brunswick, Georgia
J. A. Jones Construction Company, Panama City, Florida
Kaiser Company, Vancouver, Washington
Marinship Corporation, Sausalito, California
New England Shipbuilding Corporation, East Yard, South Portland, Maine
New England Shipbuilding Corporation, West Yard, South Portland, Maine
North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina
Oregon Ship Building Corporation, Portland, Oregon
Permanente Metals Corporation (Shipbuilding Division) No. 1 Yard, Richmond, California
Permanente Metals Corporation (Shipbuilding Division) No. 2 Yard, Richmond, California
St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company, Jacksonville, Florida
Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation, Savannah, Georgia
Todd Houston Shipbuilding Corporation, Houston, Texas
Walsh-Kaiser Company, Providence, Rhode Island

Liberty Ships Built by each of the Yards with Average Construction Costs

Alabama Dry Dock Company : 20 : Not Known
Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard : 385 : Not Known
California Shipbuilding Corporation : 336 : $ 1,858,000
Delta Shipbuilding Company : 188 : Not Known
J.A. Jones Construction – Brunswick Yard : 85 : $ 1,992,000
J.A. Jones Construction – Panama City Yard : 102 : £ 2,020,000
Kaiser Company : 10 : Not Known
Marinship Corporation : 15 : Not Known
New England Shipbuilding Corporation : 236 : $ 1,892,000
North Carolina Shipbuilding Company : 126 : $ 1,543,600
Oregon Ship Building Corporation : 322 : $ 1,643,000
Permanente Metals Corporation – Yard No. 1 : 138 : $ 1,875,300
Permanente Metals Corporation – Yard No. 2 : 351 : $ 1,667,500
St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company : 82 : $ 2,100,000
Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation : 88 : $ 2,000,000
Todd Houston Shipbuilding Corporation : 208 : $ 1,833,400
Walsh-Kaiser Company : 11 : Not Known

The Engine Manufacturers involved in supplying Machinery for the Liberty Ships

Alabama Marine Engineering Company : Birmingham, Alabama
American Shipbuilding Company : Cleveland, Ohio
Canadian Allis-Chalmers Limited : Montreal, Canada
Clark Brothers Company : Cleveland, Ohio
Dominion Engineering Works Limited : Montreal, Canada
Ellicott Machine Corporation : Baltimore, Maryland
Filer & Stowell Company : Milwaukee, Wisconsin
General Machinery Corporation : Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton Engineering Works : Brunswick, Georgia
Harrisburg Machinery Corporation : Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Iron Fireman Manufacturing Company : Portland, Oregon
Joshua Hendy Ironworks : Sunnyvale, California
John Inglis Company Limited : Ontario, Canada
National Transit Company : Oil City, Pennsylvania
Oregon War Industries Incorporated : Portland, Oregon
Springfield Machine & Foundry Company : Springfield, Massachusetts
Toledo Shipbuilding Company Incorporated : Toledo, Ohio
Vulcan Iron Works : Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Wilamette Iron & Steel Corporation : Portland, Oregon
Worthington Pump & Machinery Corporation : Harrison, New Jersey

Indicative total tonnage constructed under the emergency ‘Liberty’ programme : 20 million tons
Indicative total costs for construction of Liberty ships : 5 billion USD
Average output rate of Liberty Ships 1941 through 1945 : 56 ships/month

The Fastest Liberty Ship ever built

The S.S. Robert E. Peary, launched by Permanente Metals Corporation Yard No. 2, on the 12th of November 1942, as their Yard Number 440. This vessel was launched in only four days and fifteen and a half hours after her keel was laid at Yard No. 2 and this remains a world-wide record to this day.
Angus Mac Kinnon

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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by E28 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:57 pm

Hello Angus and this remarkable piece you have posted here for our benefit.
I mean, how do you build a Liberty ship in 4 days 15 1/2 hours. That is less time than the average mortal takes to awaken dans le morn.
Could you tell me after whom these ships were named. Not individually of course, but a general synopsis.
Do they have a common connection.
Will be fascinated to know.
Thanks. E28
Raid - Trade - Aid
Thats all folks. Sean. E28

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Angus Mac Kinnon
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:35 pm

E28 :

You have to hand it to the Americans when it comes to innovation. Even before the exigencies of wartime the USA had experiemented in and developed the concept of prefabrication. How ahead of their time were they? Well, it was only quite some time after WWII that British shipyards started to toy with the idea of breaking away from plate-small construction, riveting, and our many other outdated shipbuilding techniques. Once Britain formally requested American aid with the outbreak of war, the full power and might of the American way of doing things kicked in. The leading lights got their heads together and decided that first they had to build much more shipyards, wherever they could be laid out, on the shoresides, in rivers, anywhere they could launch and float off new shipping be it conventional or side-launching. They had full Government support and the necessary trades and skillsets were shipped to the numerous sites PDQ lest any time be lost as it was obvious to all concerned that the greatest threat the UK faced was the systematic destruction of its shipping on which it relied heavily for sustenance, materials, grain, rubber, and of course the implements of warfare.

The next objective, in which the USA excelled itself, was planning how to build ships in a matter of weeks, i.e from laying down of keels to 'full away'. This they did by gearing up for it properly. Large fabrication shops that could work around the clock knocking out standard sections perhaps weighing as much as 100 tons at a time. They then blasted and painted these, fitted them out and by neat logistics and equipment loved the 'pieces' into their final position on the building berths where armies of steelworkers, shipwrights, joiners, welders, electricians awaiting the deliveries. Separately, tradesmen were being trained up all the time, so that skillsets were never but in plentiful supply. Many of these Liberty vessels were welded up by large squads female welders, so of these mere girls, who worked long hours and were most dilligent.

It was a bit like a large Lego toy with many parts and devices. Prefabricate all the component parts ahead of the game, then, when required, just bring them all together and assemble. The Japanese, Koreans, Fins, Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch and anyone who wanted to remain viable, never mind successful in the shipbuilding game, learned much from this historical success story. Today prefabrication of shipping and offshore modules is the only way to go and is commonplace - no big deal. In 1939 / 1940 it was innovative and a bit scary. Incredibly in the short few years they were building Liberty Emergency Type vessels, America launched more than 2,700 of them.

For Liberty read 'no frills'. There was no time, material nor cost wasted on fancy wood panelling and finishes, they were fairly spartan in finish. However those who worked them were eventually very fond of them and considered them to be reliable. The well-known shipping companies (Blue Funnel, Harrison, BP, Esso, etc) who acquired some of them immediatelt following the cessation of hostilities were more than pleased to get them and they were well served. They were only designed to last a few years to see the war out. In fact, many had a working life of 30 years or more.

Almost every Liberty was named after a famous American. These were men who had been achievers, inventors, great military men, captains of industry, political heavyweights, whatever. You will note that in all cases they are male too !

Hope that explains to some small degree. For a really good authoratitive read on the subject, I recommend 'The Liberty Ships' by L.A. Sawyer and W.H. Mitchell.
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by E28 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:56 pm

Thankyou Angus, most informative and interesting.
Did we in the UK at the time have an equivalent to these Liberty ships.
I know we did in the Great war. Or at least the principle was the same, maybe that was where the idea originated, or did Henry Ford have shares and an interest.
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:42 pm

The U.K. shipyards continued, at maximum possible output, producing merchant and naval vessels, and in comparison to past production rates some of these shipyards, bearing in mind the restricted building berths, the constant bombing, the logistics in getting the necessary materials to the Yards to support a meaningful construction programme, did an exceptional job. It was recognised early on that a major replacement building programme would have to happen if the country was to survive the Battle of the Atlantic and essential foodstuffs and other commodities imported from neutral countries. Thus the concept of the no-frills emergency 'liberty' was born, and to succeed new methods, skillsets and suitable premises would have to be found. This is where the USA came in. Discussions and proposals had been mooted between the two powers, but at this stage, 1940, Britain was alone fighting the Axis threat, and unless the USA could lend support the future was simply a matter of time.

Something on a far greater scale than British shipyards could produce was required and, in the autumn of 1940, a British delegation headed by senior representation of the Sunderland Yard of J. L. Thompson travelled to the USA with the objective of ordering merchant ships to replace the huge losses to date. The USA being a neutral at that stage, and having no restrictions in terms of logistics, materials, space, manpower, etc, it was proposed to convince the American powers that be to implement a fast building programme based on the Thompson designed and built 'Dorington Court', built in 1939. In this regard, the delegation carried with them the complete set of plans and details, albeit a slightly less complicated standard cargo vessel of around 10,000 tons and a useful speed of 11 knots with a 2,500 IHP power plant. This then was the start of what was to become one amazing fast-track development if shipbuilding and marine engineering, where prefabrication and module construction was adopted before the desciptions became fashionable, including the wiring out and plumbing of whole accommodatio 'packages', and of course the real 'winner' - electric welding in lieu of traditional welding.

Oh, yes, the USA made a lot of money out of the venture too ! The Lease and Lend system - another innovative development borne of necessity for a small maritime nation fighting for its life.
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by yorkieman » Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:54 am

I think the answer E28 seeks is that the UK did produce its own 'Liberty ships', although not called such there was a series of standard designs developed of course from the same 'parentage' as the British-designed Liberties .... and all completed under EMPIRE names. But shipowners who already had their own acceptable design could get a special licence to allow it to take up the valuable shipyard resources, in addition to the EMPIRE output.
By the way, I was also reading that as many as 25% of the US-built Liberties had welding defects and this led to several early losses especially in the cold Arctic waters .... not to deny the great work done over there but perhaps a consequence of the learning curve of shipyards and their employees coupled with the demand for speedy results.

I have recently put a set of Liberty ship photos/histories on the SeaTheShips site as 'humberman'
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The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:57 am

Thanks for that.

NB : In my original of this thread I see I referred to a photograph of the liberty-ship S.S. Samuel Dexter being side-launched, however I see no sign of the photograph - oops - I will look this out and add it to the thread. :(

The original thread also refers to a welding/cracking experience on the relatively new Samuel Dexter, the nature of which led to her ultimate (and arguably premature) abandonment by the crew. Whilst this was a problem on a number of these Liberty builds, I am somewhat surprised at the figure of 25% - that hardly seems credible bearing in mind a lot of these ships went on to provide 25-30 years additional service after the war.

The reference to operations in low seawater temps is one that has been argued backwards and forwards by the experts for many years and, as an interested party in matters metallurgical / welding technologies, I have always awaited some form of satisfactory conclusion if not even a 'Eurika!' moment, but unfortunately that has not happened yet. I find myself in agreement with the 'fors' and the 'againsts' in equal measure as they each raise equally valid and convincing points of view.
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:40 pm

Following on from my earlier message, I have not unfortunately come across the photograph I referred to, if it turns up in due course I will, of course, post it with this thread.

Meantime, I have done a quick check across all builds by the Delta S. B. Company shipyard and the only vessel that 'broke up' (attributable to the issues of platework cracking and welding) was the 'Samuel Dexter. Two other ex-Delta ships, their Yard No. 103 'George A. Marr' and Yard No. 154 'William H. Kendrick, as 'Grammatiki' and 'San Nicola' respectively broke up, both in 1965, the first one sprang a leak in heavy weather in the Pacific, the other was abandoned after being damaged, but details unknown.

So, one defective ship out of 171 does not seem too bad considering these vessels were 100% welded construction.
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by yorkieman » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:04 pm

Angus, not wishing to labour the point re weld defects, I was working from (poor) memory when I quoted the 25% figure, on page 19 of the book you refer to it's given as 12.5% and of course these did all not translate into casualties, though there were some notable ones, including a troopship version splitting open while moored ... also several incidents of propeller loss due to the method of fitting.
As I said, the huge problem of resurrecting shipbuilding on this scale in the USA could hardly be trouble-free and any problems do not detract from the enormous benefit of this programme, which helped to plug the gap left by the ealy successes of the U-boats especially in the Atlantic.
Post-war, many of the major British shipping lines relied on Liberties to fill gaps in their fleets through to the late 1950's, lines included Cunard, Ellerman, Clan and even the mighty Blue Funnel!
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:08 pm

Yes - I have a listing of them somewhere ( probably beside the elusive photograph I couldn't find earlier :( )
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Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:59 pm

Back in late January, per posting No. 7, I mentioned that I would try and look out a photograph of the Liberty ship S.S. SAMUEL DEXTER being side-launched on 29th March 1943 from her building berth at the Delta Shipbuilding Yard. At last, I have found the photograph in question, together with another of her taken by the U.S. Coastguard.
Launching of Samuel Dexter.jpg
The sideways launching of S.S. Samuel Dexter on 29-03-1943
Samuel Dexter.jpg
S.S. Samuel Dexter under way
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The Liberty S.S. John Randolph

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:14 pm

Seen here in this image, on the stocks, in late 1941, the 7,176 tons Liberty oil-tanker JOHN RANDOLPH, O.N. 241394.

She was built by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard of Baltimore, their Yard Number 2006. Her machinery was from the famous company of Worthington Pump & Machinery Corporation of Harrison, N.J. She was launched on 30-12-1941 and completed in February of 1942.

Whilst on a passage from Northern Russia to Reykjavik, and in an area off the Eastern entrance to the Denmark Strait, on 05-07-1942, she was one of five vessels that were mined and sunk when they ran onto an Allied minefield. JOHN RANDOLPH broke in two pieces, of which the stern section sank. The fore section remained afloat and was towed into Reykjavik.

On 01-09-1952, whilst being towed by the Dutch tug OCEANIS from Reykjavik to the shipbreaking facility at Bo'ness for scrapping, the hulk of JOHN RANDOLPH, in heavy weather some 150 miles North-West of the Hebrides, broke adrift in position 52' 20" North, 07' 33" West.

On 05-09-1952, the abandoned hulk came ashore on Sanex beach, in Torrisdale Bay, Sutherland where it remained.
S.S. John Randolph.jpg
S.S. John Randolph of 1942
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Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:07 pm

The 7,201 tons Liberty ship FREDERICK BARTHOLDI of 1943 built by J. A. Jones Construction Company at their Brunswick Shipyard in Brunswick, Georgia, as Yard Number 119 and O.N. 244490.

Launched on 09-11-1943 and completed later that same month. Her machinery was manufactured by the General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton, Ohio, USA.

On Christmas Day 1943, FREDERICK BARTHOLDI ran ashore on the Fladda Chuain rocks lying off the North coast of the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides, in position 57' 44" North 06' 26" West, and was subsequently declared a total loss.

The vessel had been on a passage from Jacksonville to London with general cargo.

On 22-06-1944 she was refloated and beached. She was later towed to the River Clyde and in September 1944 was scrapped on the beach at Kames Bay
Frederick Bartholdi.jpg
S.S. Frederick Bartholdi
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Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:51 pm

Launched 16-12-1943 and completed later that same month. Yard No. 2296 and O.N. 244913.

Builder : Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard of Baltimore

Engines : General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton, Ohio

On 16-03-1946, whilst on a passage from Copenhagen to USA, in ballast, BYRON DARNTON ran ashore on rocks off Sanda Island, in heavy weather, and broke in two, in position 55' 17" North, 05' 35" West.

All 54 passengers and ship's crew got away safely in the boats before the vessel broke up.

The bulk of the passengers were war brides leaving Europe to take up residence in the USA with their new husbands.

The vessel was duly broken up in situ, although some bits of her may still be seen at low tides.

A pub opened on Sanda Isle by the new Owner was named the Byron Darnton.
S. S. Byron Darnton of 1943.jpg
SS Byron Darnton of 1943
Liberty - ashore on Sanda.jpg
SS Byron Darnton - broken in two on rocks
Sanda Isle - Liberty shipwreck.jpg
SS Byron Darnton - wrecked on Sanda Island
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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by rcarl616 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:22 am

Further to the question by E28 concerning naming of Liberty ships, from Jan 22, 2011. (I know, I'm late to the party.)

Most Liberty ships were named after deceased persons (including about 100 ships named after women, please note) who were significant to the history or culture of the United States in particular, or of North America in general. Some Liberty ships were built specifically for transfer to the British Merchant Navy and these, although sometimes given an initial name based on the above, were given official names beginning "SAM..." See for names of some of the "SAM" ships. Supposedly SAM meant "superstructure aft of midships" describing the general layout of Liberty ships. A competing theory is that SAM refers to a certain Uncle Sam, but I'm sure we Yanks would never stoop to direct such a subtle taunt as that at the Brits.

As one can imagine, in having to name some 2,700+ ships, one soon runs out of familiar names. As a consequence many Liberty ships carried names that few Americans of the day, much less today, would recognize. In some cases organizations that could raise sufficient funds to support the construction of a Liberty ship gained naming rights for the ship. (The construction cost of Liberty ships was typically in the range of USD 1.5 million to 1.75 million, in 1940s value. I don't know to what that would equate in pounds.) While in this case the name would still have to be that of a deceased individual, their significance to U.S. or North American history was little or none, while their connection to the organization that paid for the ship was considerable. Companies might name ships after the company's founder, labor unions after a former official, etc. The point being that many Liberty ships were named after very obscure persons.

Late in the war some 120 Liberty ships were named after crewmen who had been lost aboard Liberty ships lost earlier in the war, particularly crewmen who had performed bravely at the time of the loss. In one case a Liberty ship was inadvertently named after a living individual. That Liberty ship, SS FRANCIS J. O'GARA, built April-June 1945, was named for the purser aboard SS JEAN NICOLET, which was sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1944. O'Gara was thought to have perished but in fact spent the balance of the war in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Reportedly he eventually visited the ship named for him.

The U.S. government received many suggestions from citizens, offering their own names or names of relatives or ancestors worthy of being the namesake of a Liberty ship. Presumably these suggestions were politely ignored. In other cases individuals contacted the government to complain of a Liberty ship being named after them and finding that fact to be uncomfortable, in that the letter writer was most certainly not deceased (and likely not significant to U.S. history either, although that probably wasn't mentioned). Such letters were answered by pointing out that the Liberty ship in question was named after someone else in history, both deceased and more significant.

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Re: The Liberty Ships

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:20 am


Excellent additional information and details towards this thread from an expert - many thanks! :clap:

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