Liberty ship

US cargo ship class of Second World War, constructed from 1941 to 1945.
History, development, service, specifications, pictures and model.

3d model Liberty ship
3d model of Liberty ship.

Liberty ship (2,710 ships)
US cargo ship for mass-production, built 1941-1945.


Liberty ship
One of the 188 Liberty ships, build by Delta Shipyards in New Orleans during World War II.

The design perfected by Henry J. Kaiser shipyards in the United States, the Liberty ship type helped to win the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ for the Allies.
This 10,000-ton freighter were constructed of prefabricated sections that were welded together and could be assembled in less than 5 days. 2,710 units were built by 18 American shipyards. The design is simple yet and goes back to the British Ocean-type dated from 1879. The rapid mass production of Liberty ships formed the compensation for the losses of Allied merchant ship in the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’.

Original ordered by Britain from US shipyards, the costs for the first 60 Liberty ships amounted to a total of 96 million US Dollars. Later, the construction costs fell even further. The ships had large cargo space for about 440 light tanks or 2,840 Jeeps.

The first Liberty ship was Patrick Henry, who was launched in Baltimore on September 27, 1941. The construction of this first ship required 244 days, and she commissioned on December 31, 1941.
Later, with individual, prefabricated sections, the construction required an average of 42 days. The fastest build ship was the Robert E. Peary, which required from keel-laying to launching only 4 days and 15 1 / 2 hours. Three days later the ship was ready for a test drive.

Museum ship Hellas Liberty
Hellas Liberty (ex-U.S. Arthur M. Huddle) as a museum ship in Piraeus.
However, the quality of production of these simple vessels was very poorly suited and only useful for critical times of war. Although many were still used many years after WW2, more than 100 ships sank in the first ten years by hull and deck cracks due to brittle fracture. The reason for this was, that before the 1950s, the welding techniques that were used the first time for the mass-production of these ships, were not yet mature. Usually, ships at this time were still riveted.

Users: Allies.

Specifications for Liberty ship


Liberty shipspecification
Typecargo ship
Displacement 14,245 tons
Transport capacity 10,685 tons (or 440 light_tanks or 2,840 Jeeps)
Length 441 ft 6 in
Beam 56 ft 10.75 in
Draught 27 ft 9.25 in
Boiler2 x oil-fired boilers
Propulsion triple-expansion steam engine, single screw
Power 2,500 hp
Bunkerage ? (US ships with oil, British ships fired with coal)
Speed 11-11.5 kts
Range 20,000 nm
Complement c. 41


Liberty shipspecification
Main Armamentstern-mounted 4-in deck gun
Secondary Armament-
Anti-Aircraft guns c. 3 x 20-mm (0.79-in) Oerlikon AA guns
Torpedo tubes-
Anti-submarine weapons-

Armour Protection:

Liberty shipmm
Side (belt)-
Main deck-
Armoured deck-
Main turrets-
Secondary turrets-

Service Statistics:

Liberty shipfigures
Completed 2.710 ships: first launch on September 27, 1941, first service entry on December 31, 1941. First US ship launched September 23, 1942; 10 days after keel had been laid. In 1943, three ships were completed daily. Last ship (SS Albert M. Boe) delivered on October 30, 1945. Average construction time 42 days.
Price per ship $ 1,600,000 (for the first 60 ships ordered by Britain, later cheaper)
Remaining 196 sunk in WW2. 835 in postwar cargo fleets (Greece 562, Italy 98). Some in use until the 1970s

References and literature

Flotten des 2. Weltkrieges (Antony Preston)
Seemacht – eine Seekriegsgeschichte von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Elmar B. Potter, Admiral Chester W.Nimitz)
Kriegsschiffe 1939-45 (Heyne-Bildpaperback)
Die Schlacht im Atlantik (Andrew Kershaw)

Oval@3x 2

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