Liberty ships

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  • Second World War


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Mass-produced, prefabricated merchant vessels with all-welded hulls produced in quantity by American shipyards during the Second World War (1939–45). Their deadweight tonnage was 10,500 and they were fitted with triple expansion steam engines which gave them an overall speed of 11 knots. The original design was produced by the English Sunderland Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, as long ago as 1879. The British ships were given the prefix ‘Sam’, not as an indication of their origin but because it was the initials of their type of construction (Superstructure Aft of Midships). They were adopted by the Americans because they incorporated simplicity of design and operation, rapidity of construction, large cargo-carrying capacity, and were remarkably resistant to war damage. One even managed to sink a German armed merchantman with its 4-in. (10-cm) gun. Altogether 2,710 were built.Elphick, P., Liberty: The Ships that Won the War (2002).Sawyer, L., and Mitchell, W., The Liberty Ships (1970).

Subjects: Maritime History — Second World War.

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