The Liberty ships and the italian renaissance

(by our Member, Cesare Sorio)

One of the (maybe) less known contribution that the Liberty ships have represented for many maritime nations, left orphan of their merchant marine by the events of World War II. In fact, a large number of the survived vessels at the end of the conflict, were given, almost for free, to European nations, such as Greece and Italy , and sailed for many years, certainly beyond what it was expected to be their useful life when originally built.

The following is some very interesting material covering the 128 Liberty ships that sailed under Italian flag after the end of W.W.II. One of my friends, Capt. Prolovich, asked me to mention the fact that he sailed as Chief Officer on two of them, the STROMBOLI (ex Morgan Robertson) and the VESUVIO (ex William P. Duvall). Also, he, and I, would like to acknowledge the help received during his research, by his old Company, ITALIA di NAVIGAZIONE, and the Maritime Historical Museum in Camogli, Genova.

Some general information and statistics :

According to the records available in Italy , a total of 2,490 Liberty ships were built during the period December 1941 / June 1945, at an average cost of US$ 1,782,192 and average production of 2 ships per day. The unit built in the least time, from keel laying to launching, was the Robert E. Peary that took 4 days, 15 hours, and 30 minutes, during the period 8 - 12 November 1942, at the Permanente Metal Works Yard 2, in Richmond , California . The average time of construction was about 17 days per ship....!

A Liberty ship

The first vessel to be launched was the Patrick Henry (December 1941, in Baltimore). The Stephen Hopckins, using her guns, allegedly sunk the German cruiser STIER (already damaged). The Charles. H. Cugle became, well after the end of the hostilities, the first floating nuclear electric generating plant, under the name of STURGIS and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. 128 ships were delivered in total.

Some additional interesting statistics concerning Liberty ships registered in Italy (see table in excel):

First Liberty ship registered under Italian flag: the MONTELLO (ex Harriet Monroe), in 1946, for the company Alta Italia of Genova.

Average life of the 128 ships registered in Italy : 24 years.

There were 9 ships that were re-engined with diesel engines

There were 3 ships converted to storage vessels

Four vessels were cut in two, re-welded to another section and eventually resulting in 2 re-built ships (four halves were scrapped).

Four ships, all belonging to Italia di Navigazione, sailed for 27 years under Italian flag (30 and 31 years from commissioning).

Out of the total 128 ships, 5 were lost at sea under the original owner and Italian flag, 1 under Italian flag but different owner, 6 under different owner and flag.

Of the 128, 104 ships are known to have been scrapped, 5 ships we do not know their final ending, 3 were converted to storage, 4 were cut in half and became 2, 12 were lost at sea.

One ship. the TITO CAMPANELLA, under the original US flag and name (SAMSYLARNA) was sunk by German torpedoes in 1944, in the east Mediterranean . Re-floated and acquired by the company Campanella in 1952, was later sold to Poland in 1961 and named HUTA AOSNOWIEC. Eventually she was scrapped in Bilbao , Spain in 1971.