Liberty Ships built by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II â€œLiberty shipâ€ was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for â€œEmergencyâ€ construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. Liberty ships were nicknamed â€œugly ducklingsâ€ by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The first of the 2,711 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry, launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass produced design. (2,710 ships were completed, as one burned at the dock.) 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 that were named for outstanding African-Americans. Any group which raised $2 million dollars in War Bonds could suggest a name for a Liberty ship, thus, one is named for the founder of the 4-H movement in Kansas, the first Ukrainian immigrant to America, an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Union, and the woman who suggested the poppy as a symbol of American soldiers who died in World War I. The Francis J. Oâ€™Gara was named after a mariner who was presumed dead, but who in fact, was a Prisoner of War. He was the only person to visit a Liberty ship named in his honor.