The Arsenal of Democracy: Liberty Ships--Victory Ships (1943-45)

Figure 1.--Here we see a ceremony obviously associated with the American Wirkd War II Liberty Ship program. We think these ships may be the larger Victory ships. We are not sure what the ceremony was. The ships seem to be already launched and they are still working on the superstructure so it is not a commissioning ceremony. I think it may be handing the ships over to an allied goverment. We are also not sure about the children. There are six girls about 10-years old and a younger boy. The girls are all about the same age so they can't be a family group. They are dressed in matching outfits like a school uniform, but school uniforms were not common in America. Unfortunately there is no caption to provie details. It is dated May 14, 1943. Beginning with ONS-5, that was the very month that the tide turned in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Germans called it Black May. Not only had the Niberty Ships replaced all theshops sunk by the U-boats, but the Allies were now beginning to sink substantial numbers of U-boats.

Most of the Liberty yards in 1943 began producing Victory ships, a larger and faster freighter that was to be capable of commercial use after the War. Liberty ships were a rush response to an emergency situation in 1940. There were not only engineering problems wih these ships, but they were also slow making them vulnerable to U-boat attacks. As the war progressed there was time to improve the basic design and to install more powerful steam turbine engines plnts to increase speed. Workers and the new yards became increasingly skilled. The result was the Victory Ships. They were slightly larger and were capable of joining the high speed convoys that were much safer. THey had better trim and stability, stronger hulls, and more efficient, electrically driven winches and windlasses sppeding loading and unlodung. Ultimately some 531 Victory ships built. [Jaffee, p. 14.] This was only a fraction of the numbr of Liberty Ships built. A factor here is that the Liberty Ship construction not only replaced the number of ships sunk by the U-boats, but significantly added to merchant fleet capacity. And by the time that Victory Ships began to be delivered, the Allies had turned the tide of war in the North Atlntic. The U-boat Fleet experienced Black May. The month opened with the battle for ONS-5, the hardest fought battle of the entire campign. There wee heavy losses, 13 Allied hips and six U-boats. The tactical improvements of the escorts finally was taking the battle to the U-boats. And after ONS-5 Allied losses steadily decreased and U-boat losses invreased. Adm Dönitz was forced to withdraw the U-boats from the North Atlantic sea lanes. After May massive Wolf Pack operations were over. Small scale operations were ontinued to force the Allies to devote major resources to the campign.


Jaffee, Capt. Walter W. The Lane Victory: The Last Victory Ship in War and in Peace (Glencannon Press: Palo Alto, 1997).


Navigate the CIH World War II Section:
[Return to Main Liberty ship page]
[Return to Main Arsenal of democracy page]
[Return to Main shipbuilding capacity page]
[Return to Main World War II naval campaign page]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[About Us]
[Aftermath] [Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[POWs] [Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology] [Totalitarian powers]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]
[Return to CIH Home page]

Created: 12:37 AM 7/30/2017
Last updated: 12:37 AM 7/30/2017