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Not Built to Last

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  #1  
Old 9th February 2009, 19:09
graysonlad graysonlad is offline  
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Not Built to Last

After the war, and as a lad, I worked on many ships that were built just for one trip and not expected to last the war out. As far as I recall they were all welded ship and as the old hands kept saying, because they were not riveted, "there not living ships, there's no movement in em'". The ones I worked on had plenty of movement, as there where crack all over the place that need many hours of plating and welding.
Again as I recall, there was :
The American Liberty Boats.
With accommodation that by our standards was luxurious, with their fans and water coolers. But the engine rooms; too hot to put your hands on the handrails I remember. Most of the liberty boats I worked on all seemed to have been acquired by Greek companies.


Then there was a class of Boats called (I think) the Fort Boats. Seemed to be built more on the lines of the British ships.

T2 Tankers. With their main engine a giant ac induction motor. I seem to recall there was more ac motors on board than I had ever seen in my young life. Nobody had ships with turbine driven alternators; but the T2's did. Shell had a few of these fantastic ships.
I recall Eagle Oil had at least one T2 style of tanker built. Its motors and control gear, supplied by GEC . But it was not a patch on the American T2.

Now to the purpose of the above:
1: How many types of ships were there built with short term gains in mind. i.e. just one trip.
2. Are there any pictures about showing the various types.
3: What about the technical specification of them, especially the T2's.
4: Tell us some tales about life on board if you can.
Any body recall "The Flying Enterprise" and Capt Carlson as he and a salvage guy fought to get her in tow and to Falmouth.
What a ship and what an adventure story.

Looking forward to hearing from somebody. Lets get the lantern swinging.
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  #2  
Old 9th February 2009, 19:31
Bruce Carson Bruce Carson is offline
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I think someone, perhaps FDR, said that if a Liberty made one successful voyage, the recources expended to built her were worth the effort, or words to that effect..
That is not the same as saying that they were expendable and good only for one voyage.
I think that saying has become a maritime myth, the original meaning modified for effect, written in stone and expounded in books and websites ad nauseum.
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  #3  
Old 9th February 2009, 21:11
gordy gordy is offline  
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After seeing a picture on here today of the Texaco Wellington I googled her. (I used to sail with Texaco)

She was a T2 and was nearly 40 years old when scrapped. (Much modified!)
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  #4  
Old 9th February 2009, 21:33
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Alistair Macnab Alistair Macnab is offline  
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The Bank Line Libertys mostly lasted until their 16-year survey in the fleet and then were sold on to Greeks or Chinese where they had a few good years left. One well-known situation where the Liberty split open across the deck just in front of the bridge (I think it was the "Willowbank" or "Rowanbank"- before my time!) was held together by mooring wires in order to reach port. After that or coincidental to that scare, Weir's Libertys had a steel belt riveted to the mid length of the sheerstrake and a similar belt riveted to the deck plating for about the same length of the ship amidships just inboard of the sheerstrake to give more longitudinal strength which was their main weakness.
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  #5  
Old 9th February 2009, 21:56
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John Rogers John Rogers is offline  
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Graysonlad, to answer your question some of the one way ships you mentioned were the Liberty Ships, Victory Ships and the T-2Tanker.

John.
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  #6  
Old 9th February 2009, 22:45
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Graysonlad,

Given the stirling service done by those Liberties, and the fact that there are still a few preserved versions around today. there is no way they were built for one voyage.

As previously said, this must be a myth that grew up which is quite frankly insulting to the people who designed and built these practical workhorses. Without them the course of the war would have been quite different \nd we would be having this conversation in German rather than English.

You will find a lot of information about Liberties on this site - try using the search tools and see what you will come up with. There are quite a few photos in the Gallery as well.
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  #7  
Old 9th February 2009, 22:58
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John Rogers John Rogers is offline  
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The ships initially had a poor public image because of their looks. In a speech announcing the emergency shipbuilding program, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had referred to the ship as "a dreadful looking object", and Time magazine called it an "Ugly Duckling". To try to assuage public opinion, 27 September 1941 was designated Liberty Fleet Day, and the first 14 "Emergency" vessels were launched that day. The first of these was SS Patrick Henry, launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In remarks at the launch ceremony, FDR cited Patrick Henry's 1775 speech that finished "Give me liberty or give me death". Roosevelt said that this new class of ships would bring liberty to Europe, which gave rise to the name Liberty ship.

Early on, each ship took about 230 days to build (Patrick Henry took 244 days), but the average eventually dropped to 42 days. The record was set by Robert E. Peary, which was launched 4 days and 15 1/2 hours after the keel was laid, although this publicity stunt was not repeated—and in fact much fitting-out and other work remained to be done after the Peary was launched. The ships were made assembly-line style, from prefabricated sections. In 1943, three new Liberty ships were being completed every day. They were mainly named after famous Americans, starting with the signatories of the Declaration of Independence.

Capacity of Liberty Ship - Graphic presentation of capacity prepared by Boston Port of Embarkation, Army Base 1943

Libertys carried a crew of about 44 and 12 to 25 Naval Armed Guard. Some were armed with:

* One 3 inch bow gun
* One 4or 5 inch stern gun
* Two 37 mm bow guns
* Six 20 mm machine guns

About 200 Libertys were lost to torpedoes, mines, explosions, kamikazes, etc. during WWII. Two Liberty ships, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien in San Francisco and the SS John W. Brown in Baltimore, survive as "museum ships" open to the public for tours and occasional cruises. [see Links]
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  #8  
Old 9th February 2009, 23:17
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Funny that they were regarded as ugly. I guess it is what you are used to. They were mass-produced cargo ships not Cunard liners so what were people expecting?

And compared to many of today's ships they look quite elegant - to my eyes anyway.
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  #9  
Old 9th February 2009, 23:52
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John Rogers John Rogers is offline  
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Brian,I love the look of the Liberties and always wanted to sail on them and the T-2,however I always got the Forts and Empire ships. Next time in California I hope to do a short cruise on the O,Brian.

John
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  #10  
Old 10th February 2009, 12:40
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Pat Kennedy Pat Kennedy is offline  
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Victory Ships were just as good. I sailed in one and although the accomodation was a little spartan, it was as good a ship as any when it came down to it.
Launched in 1945 as the Ripon Victory at Permanente Metals Corp in Richmond California, she was taken over by Blue Funnel in 1947 and renamed Myrmidon.
She lasted until 1971, when she was broken up at Kaohsiung. 26 years.
Pretty good going for a one way ship.
Pat
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  #11  
Old 10th February 2009, 14:35
looneylectrics looneylectrics is offline
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On a documentory film I saw recently they said the expected life time was 5 trips. I don't know if that was 5 round trips or just 5 Atlantic crossings.

I sailed on a liberty ship, Lamport & Holts Lassell and was not too impressed. She was built in 1944 as Samariz but had her name changed to John J. McGraw. It seems like L&H took her over on launching and renamed her Lassell in 1947 then sold her in 1962 shortly after I left her. She was finally scrapped in Shanghai in 1968. a fairly long life for a ship that was not expected to last a year.
It would be interesting to hear from someone who was on her last trip for L&H.
For more info on liberty ship go to www.mariners-1.co.uk/libshipsJo.html. this site was working in Nov 06.
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  #12  
Old 10th February 2009, 15:43
KShips KShips is offline  
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Hello,

My grandfather sailed on Shell's Tomocyclus and Tectarius (T2s). On Tectarius he spent 8 months. He said they vibrated because they were welded and they had steel belts on their shipsides for increased strength.

He also worked on other Fort and Empire ships. He worked on RFA Fort Duquesne, ss Loch Ranza, ss Hollypark, ss Graiglwyd (which survived 49 years - built in 1943 and scrapped in 1992).

He never had the chance to work on Liberty ships though.

Regards,
Ken
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  #13  
Old 10th February 2009, 16:34
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ssr481 ssr481 is offline  
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Ss John W Brown

As John Rogers says, the SS JOHN W BROWN is moored at Pier 1, Clinton Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the work days and usually when someone is aboard. Because the BROWN is an "active" steaming ship, she is subject to US Maritime Administration/US Coast Guard security requirements.

The BROWN has a very good website - http://www.liberty-ship.com - full of information on US Naval Armed Guard and Merchant Marine veterans who are involved.. along with their reminisences (hope the spelling is right).

The BROWN does three to four living history cruises per year - this year's schedule is here - http://www.liberty-ship.com/html/cru...roduction.html

All of the cruises depart from Locust Point Marine Terminal, Pier 4 (I think - check the above site) and sail down the Chesapeake Bay to just below the Bay Bridge off Annapolis, then turn around and head back into Baltimore.

I've been aboard the O'BRIEN.. there is an intense rivalry between the two ships.. of the 2,710 Liberty Ships built during WWII..only the BROWN and O'BRIEN are left in steaming condition. In 1994, on its way back from Normandy, the O'BRIEN stopped in Baltimore and I was lucky enough to go aboard.

The BROWN was built in Baltimore, at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard and launched on September 7, 1942..


Living in Annapolis, I try to help out as much as I can.. but being a working stiff with kids..not always possible. If anyone wants more info on the BROWN, send me a private message.
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  #14  
Old 10th February 2009, 20:49
rbarr rbarr is offline  
 
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I sailed on the 'Chemawa' Esso T2 in 1954. Fawley to the Eastern Med.
Great ship, great crew. Spent a few days in Casablanca.
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  #15  
Old 11th February 2009, 02:20
lakercapt lakercapt is offline  
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Served my time on two "Ocean"boats
'FIRBY' ex Ocean Fame
"Ingleby" Ex Ocean Vengeance
Very basic ships with no creature comforts, no showers one toilet for 8 crew including apprentices, third engineer, second cook etc.
Chippy pumped up the the fresh water twice a day.
First, a coal burner and a work up that was, especially after a long stay in port.
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