Last Liberty ship may be bound for Greece
The last Liberty ship in the U.S. Maritime Administration’s fleet may be sold to Greece and turned into a museum.
Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton has signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue an agreement to transfer the Liberty ship Arthur M. Huddell to the Greek government for use as a museum. Donation of the ship to Greece has been under discussion for several years.
|Arthur M. Huddell|
The World War II-era Huddell is moored in the James River Reserve Fleet site at Fort Eustis, Va. It is named after a former president of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
“It is great to be able to save a bit of history from both our nations,” Connaughton said. “This ship is a symbol of the friendship as well as mutual maritime interests linking Greece and the United States.”
American shipyards built 2,751 Liberty ships during World War II, in the largest shipbuilding effort in history. Liberty ships crewed by merchant mariners carried troops and military cargo all over the world. The building and sailing of the Liberty ships, and their successors, the Victory Ships, were overseen by the U.S. Maritime Commission and the War Shipping Agency, both predecessor agencies of today’s MarAd.
After World War II, Greek ship owners purchased many Liberty ships to build up their fleet.
Two other Liberty ships formerly in the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet, the John W. Brown and the Jeremiah O’Brien, are operating as museum ships. While other redesigned and repurposed Liberty ships remain in service, none remain in service in the form they had in World War II.
MarAd notes that their use was once so common that the term “Liberty-size cargo,” meaning 10,000 tons, may still be heard in the shipping business.
The American Bureau of Shipping said it would donate $250,000 to the Institute of History of the Greek Merchant Marine for the restoration of the ship.