Liberty ships were the the "workhorses of the deep". They are 440 feet long and have 5 holds and 5 hatches. The average load of a Liberty ship was 10,500 meas. tons or 7,800 weight tons. These are very general numbers. Once Liberty Ships were on the scene many were modified for special uses. So how can we get a handle on what these numbers mean?
A Liberty ship could carry 2,840 jeeps. If the jeeps were boxed and loaded 9 to a 40' flat car, the train would be 2 1/3 miles long.
A Liberty ship could carry 525 Armored M8 cars or 3/4 Ton Ambulances. If they were boxed and loaded 2 to a flat car, that train would be just over 2 miles long.
A Liberty ship could carry 440 Light Tanks or 260 Medium Tanks. If the Light Tanks were parked next to each other they would cover more than an acre. The Medium Tanks would cover more than an acre.
A Liberty ship could carry 390 Personnel Carriers. If they were lined up bumper to bumper they would form a line 1 1/2 miles long.
A Liberty ship could carry 156,000 boxes of 30 caliber ammunition. This would be 234,000,000 rounds. If those 156,000 boxes were 50 caliber ammunition it would be 41,340,000 rounds. A train of box cars 1 1/4 miles long would be needed to get the boxes to the ship.
A Liberty ship could carry 217,000 crates of 75mm gun shells. This is 651,000 rounds. If they were stacked on pallets they would fill one hundred 20 x 20 warehouse bays. It could carry 150,000 boxes of 105mm Howitzer shells. If they were stacked on pallets they would fill 120 warehouse bays.
A Liberty ship could carry 430,000 cases of 'C' rations. There would be rations for 3,440,000 men for one day. If this were 343,000 cases of 'D' rations it would feed 16,464,000 men for one day. That's a lot of meals.
Of course Liberty ships carried all sorts of things, not just one, with each voyage. And their cargo changed from port to port. They would fill with supplies for the war effort in the US and load up with grain or other cargo for their next port of call. They may have carried prisoners of war back to the US too. Some, like the BROWN, were converted to troop carriers. It still carried cargo but not as much.
We would love to share your stories and pictures. Please email email@example.com to share your own or a family members memories.
Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.