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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys!

(sorry, I was absent for quite a while!)

I am currently building a 96th scale model of the wartime Liberty ship FORT ORANGE.

Having been in love with these ugly ducklings since decades, with books and plans flying about all around me, and the nowadays typical internet research, I have run into some queries, with so far could not even be solved by the Crews of the JOHN W. BROWN, JEREMIAH O'BRIEN or HELLAS LIBERTY (Ex. ARTHUR M. HUDDELL).

It concerns the layout of the masts on various types of the EC-2 Liberties and the installation of additional derricks / booms for the deployment of anti torpedo nets...with possibly removing the bullwark partially and moving the rafts, installing additional frame structures on deck for the net and the layout of the entire set up.

Maybe someone can help and guide me on this!

Cheers!
 

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Fort ships and Liberty ships were entirely different. Forts were coal burners built in Canada. Liberties were oil burners built in the USA.
 

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Number 505 Launched as TOBIAS LEAR

1944 renamed FORT ORANGE

1946 renamed ERASMUS (reportedly)

1946 renamed FORT ORANGE

1947 renamed BLIJDENDIJK (Holland America Line. Search as BLIJENDYK)

1957 renamed TRANSILVANIA Italian flag.

1965 renamed MOUNT ATHOS Liberian flag.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Indeed!

The FORT ORANGE was a Liberty allright! Thanks Roger for confirming!

New England Shipbuilding Hull Yard Number 241, just 11 hulls (same yard) after JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, the survivor!
I think the renaming happened latest upon delivery in September / October 1943. The Dutch Government bought the ship outright!

Only Liberty under Dutch Flag during WWII, if I am not mistaken, veteran of the Normandy Invasion (after D-Day!) and under the Command of a Captain of the Dutch managers N.A.S.M., who happened to be German, born in Essen! Hans Lohr! US built ship, under Dutch Flag, German Master, delivering Supplies to US troops off Omaha Beach! (Applause)

Torpedo Net Set up is the query!
 

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The ship was completed by the United States Govt for Lend Lease to the Netherlands Govt, London (in exile) on Bare-Boat Charter from the US War Shipping Administration.


When completed the ship was MANAGED by NASM and Dutch flagged and named as FORT ORANGE, She was not bought by the Dutch Govt until 1946 but was then Bare-Boat Chartered to NASM and in 1947 she was renamed as BLIJDENDYK.



Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Dear Stephen,

You may be correct. Some Dutch sources said the vessel was sold ex yard, but I have no evidence seen in that respect. So the LL and BB version might be right.

Thanks FOCA, I was already aware of the ABS publication, unfortunately no info on the anti torpedo nets in there.

However, here
https://www.maritime.dot.gov/sites/marad.dot.gov/files/docs/about-us/history/vessels-maritime-administration/861/arthurmhuddellhaerreport.pdf
one can find some info.

On page 37, section FR. 131 looking aft, you can see the Catch Net Frames. On page 38, Elevation Starboard, it states "Bulwark omitted in way of net" and below "Modifications to boom handling arr'gt at hatch No.4 & 5 for ships fitted with Torpedo Net Defence only"

The trouble is, the plans in this publication were re-drawn and the publication did not intend to comment or give details of the net gear.

It is also evident, that the plans are incorrect in some respect. While the ARTHUR M. HUDDEL did have the net gear, and evidently that bulwark gap as well as estended crosstrees on the fore and aft masts, same is not shown in the drawings on pages 27 and 37, but compare with pictures on pages 15, 16 and 20/21. The bullwark gap is again shown on page 28 and 35, whereas the plan on page 30 shows the raft rack in the standard position, were it would not be with the net gear installed...

I am on the search for a rigging plan of the net gear, plans of the catch net frames and booms as well as the actual construction of the net itself.

A veteran commented as follows:
QUOTE
As you had determined, the pair of long booms mounted forward and aft are to handle and support the torpedo nets. A wire pendant ran from the head of the forward boom to the head of the after boom. The torpedo net was deployed by pulling one end of the net along this pendant, similar to pulling a shower curtain. The booms were then lowered to an almost horizontal position to deploy the nets away from the hull and place the nets deep enough in the water to protect the hull from a torpedo. I have not found in my reading any account of a net "saving" a ship by snagging a torpedo before it reached the ship's hull. On the other hand, I have read several accounts of problems encountered rigging and recovering the nets and the fact that the deployed nets significantly slowed the ship's speed making it difficult to maneuver and keep station in a convoy.
UNQUOTE

As for the usefullness and / or issues regarding the speed, you can find on Wikipedia the following:

QUOTE
Torpedo nets were revived in the Second World War. In January 1940 the UK Admiralty had the ocean liner Arandora Star fitted out with steel booms at Avonmouth and then ordered her to Portsmouth where she spent three months testing nets of various mesh sizes in the English Channel. The net successfully caught all the torpedoes fired at them and reduced the ship's speed by only 1 knot (1.9 km/h), but in March 1940 the nets were removed. In July the unprotected Arandora Star was sunk by a torpedo, killing 805 people.

Booms and nets were fitted to a few ships in August 1941, and by the end of the Second World War they had been fitted to 700 ships. The nets did not protect the whole of a ship, but protected from 60 to 75 percent of each side. 21 ships so equipped were subject to torpedo attacks while the nets were deployed. 15 ships survived as the nets succeeded in protecting them. The other six were sunk because a torpedo either penetrated a net or hit an unprotected part of a ship.
UNQUOTE

I have not checked the records of ALL ships, but in Swayer / Mitchell book the there is at least mentioned that the "RICHARD HOVEY... was streaming her anti-torpedo nets when hit, the torpedoes either going through the net, or under it" and further "JOHN A. POOR Damaged by mines in N. Atlantic, the concussion from three explosions causing considerable damage in the engine room, but no hull damage...at the time of the explosions the JAP was streaming her anti-torpedo nets and these prevented the mines from actually hitting the ship."

While the Wikipedia entry deals with the British trials, I found the following on the US trials (1941/42) in a 1996 interview of Capt. Bill Searle, former supervisor of salvage for the U.S. Navy:
QUOTE
I was placed on a committee to study and try to save ships from being sunk. And we designed and had built a net which we suspended on the side of the ship 60 feet out into the water...For small vessels, the LISP-2 was designed, providing protection for ships up to 450 feet in length. It would weighed 34 tons...we did all our experiemental work in the bay south of Providence, Rhode Island. We would take a loaded ship and use a submarine and fire a dead torpedo at the ship. The net was designed to catch the torpedo by the tail. A torpedo is maybe 20 feet long. And the tail end is the propeller. And we would catch the torpedo by the propeller. And it would be hanging in the net"
UNQUOTE

The last bit makes me somehow believe, that the nets could have been made of a lighter material or construction compared to the steel wire ring nets used for harbour defences, but I am not sure!

QUOTE
And believe me, when a ship got into port, and they lifted up the net and had a live torpedo, it didn't take long to unload that ship full of men. They got out quick"
UNQUOTE

The infamous wreck of the RICHARD MONTGOMMERY in the Thames estuary off the Isle of Sheppey had the nets installed. In early pictures of the wreck, the long booms (derricks) can be seen, with some special fittings on them. Remnants of the net also.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As stated, there is the question on how the booms / derricks were constructed and what the story is on the cross trees, long vs. short.

I have compared 37 pictures of mainly post war liberty pictures so far.
There seems to be a pattern emerging, but I am not sure yet. Out of these 37 pictures, there were ten pairs of railing and long cross trees (net equipped?) vs. 19 of closed bulwark and short, stubby cross trees.
8 were inconclusive, i.e. a combination of masts (fore / aft) or long cross trees, but bulwark.

At this low number, it is hardly representative.

As it is known, many Liberties were converted, in some cases even salvaged fore and aft ships from different ships matched. So, the 8 odd ones could have several reasons. Strange though, the JEREMIAH O'BRIEN has the railing, but short cross trees. I have not been able to varify yet, if she might have been re-masted?

I have also not been able (yet) to establish, if it could have been a yard / timing issue regarding this. While most ships were delivered ex yard with closed bulwarks (but later got converted!), some later launches show the change already during the building.

It seems also unclear, if the broad cross tree was a general evolution unrelated to the net gear. Here also interesting to compare merchant liberties to those used by the Navy. But the longer cross tree had brackets for the booms on the side. It would be awkward to cradle a derrick there wich is installed on the fore / aft side of the deck house, unless the bracket would ba at an unusual angle.

I attach a picture of the Navy Transport BOOTES AK91 at a yard pier during conversion for the Navy. Although THIS vessel seems not to have been fitted the net gear, it features the long cross trees (3) and the bracket for the booms installed on the sides (2) as well as the gooseneck for potentially the boom installation (1). The gap in the bulwark is more neatly cut as on merchant Liberties. I am not sure about the boom installed there, which could have soemthing to do with a torpedo net, but possibly also with boarding landing craft etc. I have only seen this on Navy Liberties, not civilian ones.

I also attch a picture of the RICHARD MONTGOMMERY still sailing, with the topped net booms and nets hanging.
 

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Here is a photo of the FORT ORANGE.

Have you seen this one before? Seems to answer of your questions.

Also a couple of BLIJDENDK photos.

My painting of BLIJDENDYK. The original painting hangs on board the EURODAM... so 'FORT ORANGE' still sails!


Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Dear Stephen,

yes, indeed the pictures are known to me. That is a beautiful painting of yours!
Great to know she is still "sailing" with HAL. My RC model, although not finished yet, has been on the water already, sailing in 1:96!

The one WWII picture is dated11-22-43 and is quite interesting. Can you see that strange "bulb" aft on the hull, just below the raft?

I wonder what that might be!? Or is it an illusion? But I sense a shadow there!

It was indeed this picture which got me on to the net story. I could not figure out what the two large triangular frames were next to the aft mast. I thought it had something to do with the raft and life saving appliances, when I found the designation "catch net frames" for them. But that really did not make sense at all!

One explanation for these frames might be to prevent the net hanging from the top of the boom in the stored position to get entangled in the winches or other obstructions on deck, or the weights moving and damaging installations. I would also gather from the Vet that there was a stay cable between the forward net boom and the aft one, with the net being permanently fixed. The Navy Vet said it was drawn like a shower curtain, prior to the booms being lowered with the net nearly in horizontal position. That indeed sounds plausible. The procedure COULD have been:

a. permanent stay cable between fore and aft booms, net on shakles or similar attached to it
b. topped aft boom with net attached, net stored hanging and lying on deck between the "Catch Net Frames", possibly with some weights
c. in deploying, railing is collapsd / removed. It would have no bars, but wires and / or chains
d. both, or only aft boom, unlasched from cross tree, slightly lowered. Net with weights pusched over the side aft, where railing removed, now hanging outside.
e. both booms lowered further, wire attached to net hanging on aft boom, put on a forward winch (anchor windlass?) and pull the net on the stay cable forward. There would be no obstruction, since the net hangs overboard. Question: how to run the wire?????
f. After net has reached it's end position forward, lower both booms horizontally. The net is now 30ft away from the hull and hangs vertical into the sea, possibly weight down by some weight on it.
g. secure booms in that position and tie net tight to a forward and aft bollard, to minimize it giving way upon impact. Since it is only covering abt 70% of the hull length and hangs on the boom ends some 30ft out, it might only marginally be drawn closer to the hull fore and aft. The interesting question here would be, how deep was it?

Retrieve: reverse the process and use the aft boom to heave it in.

Hmm, maybe the net would not need to be winched. Would it just slide if you have the stay cable at an angle by lower one boom and hoist the other???? But 34ts is a hell of a weight!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Nice looking model by Brian Smith.

When I am finished with the FORT ORANGE, I plan a civilian post war Liberty as well. East German ERNST MORITZ ARNDT.

But first, this net gear issue needs sorting...

I notice that on the BLIJDENDYK the bulwark was re-built again. That makes it difficult to get a match between broad cross trees and reeling on pictures of post war Liberties. However, If I was the Owner, I would have done it as well!
 

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Nice picture...I added some remarks...
Hey Guys,

There was a war on which lent some urgency to the situation. Might it not be that different batches of Libertys had different ' long splices', so to speak? I can easily imagine the different yards adopting their own solution to the efficient use of nets. Uniformity with engines and the hulls etc, yes, but no time for pedantic matching of fittings.

Just a thought!
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Hi Alan,

yes, I hear what you say, indeed, there was a war on!

However, the U.S. was not as battered as Britain or Germany under constant bombardment and cut of from supplies.

The ships were constructed on an enormous industrial scale, and to have deviated from standards, would have resultet in chaos, with major components being produced far away from the shore and the shipyards, with production output somewhere in the midwest, not knowing if parts were sent to the east or west coast or Gulf area, before they left the maker's premises. This, plus "untrained" workers in the yards, would mean, that any kind of "make shift" would have caused chaos!

And knowing our American friends, nothing happens without a plan or a manual! And the ship's Crews were also no old seasalts! Was not LORAN introduced to facilitate navigation by mathematicians dressed in Mate's uniforms on board? (slight punch here!)

Yes, there was a war on! But looking at it from the view point of a streamlined industrial massproduction of ships to be assembled by untrained personell, it seems highly unlikely that "they could do what they deemed fit", the more so because they were not really bound by shortages.

It is evident that ships got converted to fit the net (ARTHUR M. MONTGOMMERY being the prime example). It is however logical that at one point the ship construction made the neccessary changes during the initial building before launch and delivery to allow for the fitting of the installation. This may have even continued after the project was stopped in 1944?

On a side note, as far as I know, not a single Jeep was delivered ex factory on a weekend or holiday! There was a war on, you know! Who would have thought!
 

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Libertys

Hi Lars,

Interesting to read your in-depth take on the Liberty Ship and the amazing achievement that played a huge part in winning the Atlantic war.

On the question of uniformity, there were variances, and it's not surprising, given the 2700 plus Libertys that were produced.

Visiting Beaumont, Texas, after the war, there was the sight of huge rows of the reserve fleet - Victories and Libertys, all head and tail like rows of toy soldiers. I think I am right in saying that it was possible to detect differences. The gun bays on the bridge front were not always present, for instance. The one I sailed on had them.

Over the production period 43/35? it would also be surprising if modifications were not introduced, but I bow to your superior knowledge as someone who has studied the subject.

Personally, I was never one to get interested in whether the derrick crutch at number 3 hatch went this way or that! It's the Maritime History aspect that fascinates me - lights my fire!
very best wishes/Al
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Dear Alan,

I would not describe myself as an expert on the subject at all. And yes, there would probably be slight variations. The Ships operated by the Navy for sure had "specialities". But looking at the ships in the reserve fleet in lay up might be misleading, since many got converted and substantially rebuilt for a special purpose job, or simply repaired, even during the war.

Having said that, it may not be excluded that different yards handled items slightly different and for sure there was some evolution over time also. Flaws in design would be ironed out and possibly simplyfyed construction along the way.

But I would expect that the way they were made, the basisc remained uniform and generally conversions were made after delivery from the yard so that the production is not held up.

My interest regarding the detail stems from the model building. If you spent so much time and effort (and money) into such a project, you want it to be correct and true.

In the over all picture and history, it probably would be irrelevant what size of shoes the Chief Mate was wearing!(*))
 

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Liberty ship models

Lars, Interesting about model building. Tons of patience, I guess? but rewarding.

Somewhere, maybe online, there might be a set of detailed specifications, do you think?

Looking back, the beauty of the project was the simple design. People including the President called them 'ugly ducklings' at the time, but this disguises the genius of the whole project. I have written about the time on the Libertys enthusiastically in books and articles. (https://banklineonline.com ) and described the engine as " A big 'TONKA toy'". So simple and reliable. All of the fittings were solid and clunky, and the central heating in the accommodation was powerful. Most people who sailed on them loved them, and when they were purchased after the war, conditions on board were better than more expensive purpose built ships.

Cheers/Al
 
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