The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Liberty Ships
The United States and its Allies' merchant fleet needed to handle massive moving of wartime materials. This was accomplished through the assembly-line production of standardized Liverty Ships, which could be mass-produced cheaply and quickly. The first Liberty Ship, the SS Patrick Henry, launched on September 27, 1941.

The Liberty shipbuilding program resulted in various technological advances. A newly-developed steel cold-rolling process helped minimize the amount of steel usen in the making of cargo ships. Welding techniques advanced advanced and the first all-welded ships were produced.

These new techniques helped minimize the amount of time needed to build each ship. The first Liberty Ships took more than  200 days to build, but by 1944, the average time to build a ship was just 42 days. More than 2,700 were constructed.

These photos portray the general process of building a Liberty Ship at the Bethlehem Fairfiled shipyards near Baltimore, MD.

  • Type: Emergency Cargo Ship 
  • Tonnage: 14,245 tons
  • Length: 441 ft
  • Displacement: 47,264 tons
  • Beam: 57 ft