Indeed a fascinating question and very enjoyable research! There were
eight bunks tied to two upright poles.
Elton A. Watlington World War II Journeys
"When we were assigned to a ``Liberty Ship'' for returning stateside,
we were all lined up alphabetically and marched in to take our places.
No one complained; no one fussed; for we were coming home. It was only
a few days before Christmas and this ship was headed in the right
direction. The Liberty ships were basically cargo ships but could be
adapted to carry troops by the hundreds by installing compartments
attached to upright poles in the ``Cargo Holes'' of the ship. On our
level there were about two hundred men sleeping in the same room,
bunked together in groups of eight bunks tied to two upright poles,
with about twenty-two inches between the canvas above or below you and
less than that to the one to your side. These were men you had never
seen before or known before. Black men, white men, educated,
uneducated; enlisted soldiers for whom the war was over and we were
going home. We were happy. We didn't know where we were on the Pacific
Ocean, but we knew we were going home."
More about the ships provided at the following links...
Libert Ships - Liberty Ship carries proud heritage
"The Jeremiah O'Brien, an "ugly duckling" launched in South Portland,
was a "luck ship" throughout World War II. By Herbert Adams
"The day she was built, she was expendable. The Navy wanted only one
voyage out of her to call her a success. President Franklin D.
Roosevelt called her and all her kind ''dreadful looking objects.''
The press delighted in calling them all the ''American ugly
They were the Liberty ships. Ask any of the 30,000 Mainers who built
or sailed in them from 1942 to 1945 if they were ugly or awkward or
anything less than Mainers could make them, and the answer is always a
resounding ''No.'' Liberty ships were the workhorses of World War II,
the largest class of civilian-made warships ever built, simple
square-hulled vessels welded and hammered by the hundreds."
"Maine built about 10 percent of all Liberty ships. Their expected
life span was only five years, and so great was the expected casualty
rate that the Navy considered one safe voyage per ship a full quota."
"Today there is only one unaltered, operable Liberty ship left: the
Maine-built Jeremiah O'Brien, which steamed into Portland Harbor
Saturday for an eight-day visit."
What is a Liberty Ship?
"Liberty Ships were a class of cargo ship built during WWII. They were
old fashioned, utilitarian vessels that could be built in a hurry.
They got the name Liberty Ships because the first one was named the SS
PATRICK HENRY. Various claims for the Liberty design have been made by
U.S. citizens - even a gold medal awarded - but they are erroneous and
no award was deserved.
On January 3, 1941, President Roosevelt announced a $350,000,000
shipbuilding program. In September 1941, the nation launched an
emergency ship construction program that would involve building, in
just three years, the equivalent of more than half of the pre-war
merchant shipping of the world, while during the same time period
building the greatest fleet of fighting ships the world had ever seen.
The urgent need for the new cargo ships came at a time when the
facilities for producing modern marine equipment were fully engaged by
the requirements of the naval expansion program.
In the Fall of 1940, Britain had placed an order for sixty tramp
steamers of about 10,000 ton deadweight capacity. The original design
came from Sunderland, England and originated in 1879. This style of
vessel had been produced until the mid-1930s, and the last one was the
The adaptation was from a wartime plan entitled, "The Northeast Coast,
Open Shelter Deck Steamer," and generally known as "The North Sands
9300 Tonner." The scantlings allowed for an 18-inch increase in draft
upon the closure of all tonnage openings and provided a closed shelter
deck vessel of 10,100 deadweight tons.
The vessels were to be designated as OCEAN Class ships.
Sixty British OCEANs were built in this country (30 each at Portland,
Maine, and Richmond, California) were closed shelter deck finish,
whereas most of the Canadian construction followed the open shelter
deck details and were converted during service.
The US Maritime Commission made a number of alterations to the British
"OCEAN" design. Some alterations were made to conform to American
manufacturing and shipbuilding standards, some to accommodate the
scarcity of certain materials, and some to meet the need to build as
rapidly and cheaply as possible.
The result was designated EC2-S-C1, and they were originally referred
to as 'emergency ships'. One of the more common nicknames was 'Ugly
Duckling' which stemmed from their utilitarian appearance, but when
the first of the new ships, the SS PATRICK HENRY, was launched in
1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech refering to
Patrick Henry's speech of March 23, 1775 that ended with the phrase
"Give me Liberty ... or give me death.", he told the country that
these ships would bring liberty to Europe. From then on, they became
known as 'Liberty Ships'."
The Yards That Built Liberties (see list, click on links)
"There were eighteen shipyards located along the Atlantic, Pacific and
Gulf Coasts, and the Great Lakes, the latter region producing vessels
limited in their size by facilities for getting then to sea. Don't
forget, this was in the days before the St.Lawrence Seaway was
Operation Magic Carpet
"Here is a brief description of Operation Magic Carpet, thanks to Bill
Longo. Operation "Magic Carpet" plans started around 1943 when the
U.S. faced the problem of how to return service personnel back to the
states after the war ended. Because of over 7 million service
personnel overseas it was decided to let the "War Shipping
Administration" draw up plans on how to do it.
The Army with its troopship's and the Merchant Marine cargo ship's
converted to troopers, they started to move personnel from Europe in
late June of 45. The Navy because of the Pacific war did not release
it's ship's until Japan quit.
My understanding of "Magic Carpet" is that it started in late June of
45 and finished around September of 46. Over 8 million service
personnel returned stateside. The whole operation included over 700
U.S. merchant ship's, British troopers like the "Queen's", U.S. Army,
Navy and Coast Guard vessels.
The trips I made from England and France will be ones never to be
forgotten, a lot of happy faces leaving Europe, and what a welcome
entering New York harbor, fire boats, pleasure boats, bands and girls
all the way up the Hudson River to the discharge pier.
--- Bill Longo, email@example.com"
How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Learn? (authors name not
This is a graphical, non-technical summary of my paper, "How Much Did
the Liberty Shipbuilders Learn? New Evidence for an Old Case Study."
Journal of Political Economy, 109(1):103-137.
"Productivity Growth in Liberty Ship Production
Over the course of three years, labor productivity rose at an average
annual rate of 40 percent. The speed of production increased even more
rapidly. While it often took as much as 300 days for a yard to deliver
its first ship, by 1943 delivery times were often less than one month.
One ship, the Robert E. Peary, was built in under five days..."
"Were All Liberty Ships Created Equal?
An attractive feature of the Liberty ship as a case study of learning
is that all vessels appeared to be the same. In many other industries,
it is hard to separate..."
Liberty Ships built by the United States Maritime Commission in World
"Liberty ship was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for
"Emergency" construction by the United States Maritime Commission in
World War II. Liberty ships, nicknamed "ugly ducklings" by President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The first of the 2,751 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry,
launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass produced
design. The 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country
in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty
ship, the SS Robert E. Peary was built in four and a half days. A
Liberty cost under $2,000,000."
"Liberty ships were named after prominent (deceased) Americans,
starting with Patrick Henry and the signers of the Declaration of
Independence. 18 that were named for outstanding African-Americans.
Any group which raised $2 million dollars in War Bonds could suggest a
name for a Liberty ship, thus, one is named for the founder of the 4-H
movement in Kansas, the first Ukrainian immigrant to America, an
organizer for the International Ladies Garment Union, and the woman
who suggested the poppy as a symbol of American soldiers who died in
World War I. The Francis J. O'Gara was named after a mariner who was
presumed dead, but who in fact, was a Prisoner of War. He was the only
person to visit a Liberty ship named in his honor."
Amazon.com lists this book about the Liberty Ships - Liberty: The
Ships That Won the War by Peter Elphick
"This stirring tribute tells the complete story of the renowned
Liberty ships, from their design concept and production through their
war service and post war careers. Designed for speed and ease of
production, Liberty ships were turned out at American shipyards so
rapidly that the Allies were able to replace thousands of ships lost
to U-boats and keep the vital transatlantic supply routes open. Filled
with firsthand accounts, the book brings to life the amazing
industrial effort and sacrifice and heroism of the men who sailed the
ships in every theater of the war. The construction of the Robert E.
Perry in a record-breaking five days and ongoing efforts to preserve
the last surviving ships are just two of the many stories illuminating
this overlooked part of World War II. Essential reading for historians
and naval enthusiasts, this book is a fascinating account of one of
the great achievements in maritime history."
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