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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
South Portland in Cumberland County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
 

The Ugly Ducklings

 
 
The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
1. The Ugly Ducklings Marker
Inscription.
When Rear Admiral Land, U.S. Maritime Commission Chairman showed President Roosevelt the Liberty ship plans, he remarked, "She'll carry a good load. She isn't much to look at though? A real ugly duckling." However, these simple but seaworthy ships were not designed for aesthetics. They were designed as ships of war, to carry huge amounts of cargo to the Allied forces around the world.

The standardized design (EC2-S1-C1) was selected for its simplicity and adaptability to mass production. To save time on the design, the U.S. decided to use the plans for the British Ocean class ship, drawings for which were already underway with the naval architects Gibbs & Cox of New York City. These Ocean plans were modified to facilitate welding, to replace the split deckhouse with a single midship house, and to use a boiler that burned oil instead of coal.

The U.S. would build over 2,700 Libertys, more than any other single design type in the history of shipbuilding.

The design is the best that can be devised for an emergency product to be quickly, cheaply, and simply built. ...Whether they have any utility afterwards will have to be determined then.
House Committee Report, January 1941

Liberty Ship Specifications
Length Overall: 441 feet 6 inches
Beam: 56 feet 10 3/4 inches
Depth to
The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
2. The Ugly Ducklings Marker
upper deck: 37 feet 4 inches
Gross Tonnage: 7,191
Deadweight Tonnage: 10,900
Loaded Draft: 27 feet 6 7/8 inches
Horsepower: 2,500
Speed: 11 knots
Average cost to build: 1.8 million dollars
Typical Liberty Crew: 44 Merchant marines, 12 Naval Gun Crew
Typical Armament: (varied by mission)
3" gun in forward gun tub
5" gun in aft gun tub
2-8 20mm anti-aircraft guns
More Statistics:
Steel: 3,200 tons
Paint: 25 tons
Welds: 52 miles
Rivets: 28,000

Launching the Libertys
Over 2,700 Liberty Ships with over 2,700 names representing famous war heroes, dignitaries, entertainers, literary figures, politicians, and artists, as well as the not-so-famous yard workers, who were honored for their performance or attendance. At the launching, the sponsor would christen the vessel by breaking the customary champagne bottle over the bow. Sometimes the sponsor was a relative of the person for whom the ship was named. Sometimes she too was a famous figure. But in all cases, the sponsor was a woman. The launchings were especially exciting. On August 14, 1942, Maine's Governor, Sumner Sewall declared Maine Shipbuilding Day in recognition of eight ships being launched on one day: five Ocean ships at the East Yard, one Liberty at the West Yard, and two Destroyers at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

[Photo
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1940s
3. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #1 for info
captions follow]

1. Machinists working in the East Yard's machine shop used the overhead cranes to assemble the ship's largest components such as stern frames, propeller shafts, and pumps.
Courtesy of Hobbs Funeral Home
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2. A single, 4 blade, 18 1/2 foot bronze propeller drives the 10,000-ton Liberty ship at 11 knots.
Courtesy of Blethen Maine Newspapers
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3. Down in the basins, welders and shipfitters stand on the inner bottom of Eugene Hale. The partially assembled section shows the lightening holes that allowed welders access to the hull and lightened the weight of the ship.
Courtesy of Portland Harbor Museum
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The mass production of Liberty ships was made possible by pre-fabrication of entire sections of the ship prior to installation. This drawing from the NESC's [New England Shipbuilding Corp.] construction procedures illustrates the Liberty ship's simple, straight design. Side shell plates and frames were prefabricated, assembled in sections, and marked to indicate specific location and sequence on the ship.
Courtesy of Portland Harbor Museum
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4. Pictured on December 26, 1943, Samteviot was under construction
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1940s
4. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #2 for info
in the basins. The U.S. sold some of the Liberty ships directly to the British; all of these ships had the prefix Sam.
Courtesy of Maine Maritime Museum
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5. The Thomas Hooker slid down the ways at the West Yard on July 13, 1942. This ship would ultimately crack and sink, giving support to those who contended that welding was inferior to riveting, resulting in poor quality ships. However, of the 266 ships built in South Portland, it was the only one that cracked.
Courtesy of the Shipyard Society
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6. One of the West Yard's gantry cranes lifts a pre-assembled section for the lower bow. Plates are pre-fabricated and assembled in sections on the flats and then lifted into position on the keel already under construction on the ways.
Courtesy of Maine Maritime Museum
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7. Both the William Pitt Fessenden and Winslow Homer launched from the East Yard on November 11, 1942. They were the first two Libertys to be built in the East Yard after the 30 Oceans were completed for the British.
Courtesy of Maine Maritime Museum
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8. Nancy Moran, great-grandaughter [sic] of this ship's namesake christens the Michael Moran,
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1940s
5. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #3 for info
on August 16, 1944. The ship was named for the founder of the Moran Towing Company, which runs towboats in Portland Harbor today.
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Peter J. Moran
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9. The Liberty ships ran on a reciprocating steam engine, an old-fashioned but proven engine type that was simple to use and easy to obtain. The massive three-story tall engines were transported to the yard in four railroad cars.

A view of this engine can be seen in the movie Titanic. Engine room scenes were shot on board the Jeremiah O'Brien in San Francisco.

 
Location. 43° 39.207′ N, 70° 14.016′ W. Marker is in South Portland, Maine, in Cumberland County. Touch for map. Marker is at the Liberty Ship Memorial in Bug Light Park, on Cushings Point, off Madison Street. Marker is in this post office area: South Portland ME 04106, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. South Portland and Its Liberty Ships (here, next to this marker); The Yard (here, next to this marker); WWII: On the Home Front (here, next to this marker); The Ultimate Sacrifice (here, next to this marker); Voyages for Victory
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, December 26, 1943
6. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #4 for info
(here, next to this marker); The Work Force (here, next to this marker); Liberty Ship Memorial (here, next to this marker); South Portland's Ships for Liberty (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in South Portland.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Liberty Ship, by Peggy Pelt. (Submitted on December 14, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. South Portland's Wartime Shipbuilding. (Submitted on December 14, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien National Liberty Ship Memorial. (Submitted on December 14, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommercePatriots & PatriotismWar, World IIWaterways & Vessels
 
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, July 13, 1942
7. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #5 for info
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1940s
8. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #6 for info
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, November 11, 1942
9. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #7 for info
Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1940s
10. Photo on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #8 for info
Diagram on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, undated
11. Diagram on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
See Photo Caption #9 for info
Diagram on The Ugly Ducklings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, undated
12. Diagram on The Ugly Ducklings Marker
"From Dry Dock to Sea: How a Basin Works"
Liberty Ship Memorial image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
13. Liberty Ship Memorial
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 14, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 822 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on December 14, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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