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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Left Patch Contributed by Mike Smolinski, Right Patch by Tommy Trampp

Contributed by Al Grazevich

USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
USS Liberty (AG-168) (1963 - 1964)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - India - Romeo - Yankee
JANAP Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign - Rock Star
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from left to right
Combat Action Ribbon (8-9 June 1967) - Presidential Unit Citation - National Defense Service Medal

Individual Awards

Medal of Honor (CO Captain William L. McGonagle USN)* - Navy Cross (2) - Silver Star (11) - Purple Heart (34 KIA, 171 WIA)

Belmont Class Technical Research Ship:
  • Laid down, 23 February 1945, as SS Simmons Victory, a Maritime Commission type (VC2-S-AP3) hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 182) at Oregon Shipbuilding Corp., Portland, OR.
  • Launched (date unknown)
  • Delivered to the Maritime Commission, 4 May 1945
  • Chartered to Pacific Far East Line, San Francisco, CA.
  • Returned to the Maritime Administration in 1958 for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Olympia, WA.
  • Acquired by the US Navy in February 1963
  • Converted to a Miscellaneous Auxiliary, (Technical Research Ship) at Williamette Iron and Steel, Portland, OR.
  • Named Liberty (AG-168), 8 June 1963
  • Reclassified Technical Research Ship (AGTR-5), 1 April 1964
  • Commissioned USS Liberty (AGTR-5), 1 April 1964 at, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA., CDR. Daniel T. Wieland, Jr., in command
  • Attacked and damaged by Israeli forces, 8 June 1967, 34 killed, 171 wounded
  • Decommissioned, and struck from the Naval Register, 28 June 1968
  • Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Norfolk, VA.
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration in December 1970 for disposal
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping in 1973
  • USS Liberty was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and Captain McGonagle, the Commanding Officer, received the Medal of Honor
    Displacement 7,725 t.(fl)
    Length 455'
    Beam 60'
    Draft 23'
    Speed 16 kts.
    Complement 358
    Armament four .50 cal. machine guns
    Propulsion steam turbine, single shaft, 8.500shp

    A Memorial To Those Who Sail In Harms Way
    The Attack on USS Liberty

    The following summary is from the jacket of the book, Assault on the Liberty by James M. Ennes, Jr.; Random House, New York, 1979, ISBN 0-394-50512-3:

    In June 1967, jet aircraft and motor torpedo boats of Israel brutally assaulted an American naval vessel, the USS LIBERTY, in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack was preceded by more than six-hours of intense low-level surveillance by Israel photo-reconnaissance aircraft, which buzzed the intelligence ship thirteen times, sometimes flying as low as 200 feet directly overhead. The carefully orchestrated assault that followed was initiated by high-performance jet aircraft, and was followed up by slower and more maneuverable jets carrying napalm, and was finally turned over to lethal torpedo boats, which blasted a forty-foot hole in the ship's side.

    The attack lasted more than two hours-killing 34 Americans and wounding 171 others-and inflicted 821 rocket and machine-gun holes in the ship. And when the LIBERTY stubbornly remained afloat despite her damage, Israeli forces machine-gunned her life rafts and sent troop-carrying helicopters to finish the job. At this point, with Sixth Fleet rescue aircraft finally enroute, the government of Israel apologized and the attacking forces suddenly withdrew. Only then did the identity of the assailants become known.
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    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed By/Source
    Merchant Service Waterman SS Corp.
    67k Especially designed for the transport of Tanks and Boxed Airplanes the Z-EC-S-C5 type had the same hull-form as the EC2-S-C1 type but with large hatches and heavier loading gear. Typical for this type is the arrangement of two pairs of kingposts each on the forecastle and poop contrary to the two single kingposts on the forecastle and one kingpost on the poop with the EC2-S-C1 basic design. All vessels remained under US Flag and Registry after WWII and were laid up.
    United States Maritime Commission 1936 thru 1950
    John Spivey
    Liberty 316k The Waterman Steamship Company freighter SS Simmons Victory, under way with the assistance of a tug alongside, in the harbor at New York City, in 1947.
    © World Ship Society
    Gerhard Muller-Debus
    USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
    Liberty - Named for cities and towns named Liberty in ten states of the Union: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.
    Tommy Trampp
    Liberty 60k USS Liberty (AGTR-5), 28 December 1964, Williamette Iron and Steel Co. photo CDR. Louis D Chirillo USN Ret
    Liberty 54k Overhead view of USS Liberty (AGTR-5), date and location unknown Tommy Trampp
    Liberty 86k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) moored pierside, date and location unknown.
    Photo by J. A. P. Albornoz from 1966/67 Edition of "Jane's Fighting Ships"
    Robert Hurst
    Liberty 55k USS Liberty (AGTR-5), date and location unknown. From the collection of Frank Guilfoy
    via USS Oxford (AG-159/AGTR-1)
    Web Site
    Liberty 82k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) under way, date circa 1966, location unknown.
    US Navy photo # NH 97473,
    US Naval Historical Center
    Liberty 162k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) under way, date and location unknown.
    Tommy Trampp
    Liberty 24k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) probably moored at Naval Station Norfolk, VA., circa mid-1960s. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Liberty 104k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, VA. 2 October 1966. USS Waldron (DD-699) tied up astern of Liberty
    US Navy Photo # NH 66862 Courtesy Mariners Museum, Newport News, Virginia. Ted Stone Collection.
    US Naval Historical Center
    Liberty 117k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) underway in Chesapeake Bay, 29 July 1967, upon her return from the Mediterranean Sea. She had been attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli air and surface forces while operating off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967, during the "Six-Day War", and was subsequently repaired at Malta.
    US Navy Photo # K-39927
    US Naval Historical Center
    Liberty 44k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) underway with the assistance of tugs, date and location unknown. Robert Hurst
    Liberty 91k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) underway, date and location unknown. Robert Hurst
    Liberty 45k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) underway after being attacked by Israeli forces.
    US Navy photo
    Liberty 336k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) underway after being attacked by Israeli forces. Note USS Davis (DD-937) is in the background.
    US Navy photo
    Yu Chu, courtesy Tom Strasser.
    Liberty 45k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) limps towards Malta after being attacked by Israeli forces. She was met by the guided missile light cruiser USS Little Rock (CLG-4) (bow visible at left) and other elements of the US Sixth Fleet. Note the helicopter hovering over the bow area of Liberty.
    US Navy photo
    Robert Hurst
    Liberty 159k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) as she maintains steerageway approximately 14 hours after she was attacked and badly damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula, 8 June 1967.
    US Navy photo # USN 1123509 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command.
    Robert Hurst
    Little Rock
    112k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) damaged on 8 June 1967 in the Mediterranean Sea by Israeli forces during the Six Days War makes her way toward Malta. This photo was taken from the aircraft carrier USS America (CVA 66). To the right is the guided missile cruiser USS Little Rock (CLG-4), flagship of the 6th Fleet.
    U.S. Navy Photo from the USS America 1967 Cruise Book, p. 238.
    Robert Hurst
    Liberty 125k USS Liberty (AGTR-5) at Valletta, Malta, after arriving there for repair of damages received when she was attacked by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula, 8 June 1967. She arrived at Malta on 14 June. Note torpedo hole in her side, forward of the superstructure.
    US Navy History and Heritage Command photo # NH 97475 by PH1 J.J. Kelly.
    Robert Hurst
    Liberty 475k Close up view of USS Liberty (AGTR-5)'s hull damage when she was torpedoed during the attack by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula, 8 June 1967.
    US Navy photo # K38534.
    Charles Lamm
    Liberty 104k USS Liberty (AGTR-5)'s Commanding Officer CDR. William L. McGonagle, USN, in his cabin on board the ship, 11 June 1967. Note damage received when Israeli forces attacked the Liberty off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967.
    US Navy photo # NH 97474 from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
    Bill Gonyo
    Liberty 125k USS Liberty (AGTR-5)'s Commanding Officer CDR. William L. McGonagle, USN, points out damage inflicted on the ship's superstructure when Israeli forces attacked the Liberty off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967. The photo was taken on 16 June, two days after the ship arrived at Valletta, Malta, for repairs.
    US Navy photo # NH 97476 from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
    Bill Gonyo

    USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Wieland Jr., Daniel Thomas, USN (USNA 1946)30 December 1964 - 25 April 1966
    02 CDR. McGonagle, William Loren, USN25 April 1966 - 10 October 1967
    03LCDR. Burson, Donald Lee, USN10 October 1967 - 28 August 1968
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    USS Liberty (AGTR-5) Memorial Site
    US Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association
    Factory Direct Models - USS Liberty AGTR-5
    Back To The Main Photo Index Back To The Service Ship Photo Index Back To The Miscellaneous Auxiliary Ship (AG) Photo Index Back To the Technical Research Ship (AGTR) Photo Index
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 20 October 2023





























    Captain William L. McGonagle USN
    Medal of Honor

    "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer, USS Liberty (AGTR-5) in the Eastern Mediterranean on 8-9 June 1967. Sailing in international waters, the Liberty was attacked without warning by jet fighter aircraft and motor torpedo boats which inflicted many casualties among the crew and caused extreme damage to the ship. Although severely wounded during the first air attack, Captain (then Commander) McGonagle remained at his battle station on the badly damaged bridge and, with full knowledge of the seriousness of his wounds, subordinated his own welfare to the safety and survival of his command. Steadfastly refusing any treatment which would take him away from his post, he calmly continued to exercise firm command of his ship. Despite continuous exposure to fire, he maneuvered his ship, directed its defense, supervised the control of flooding and fire, and saw to the care of the casualties. Captain McGonagle's extraordinary valor under these conditions inspired the surviving members of the Liberty's crew, many of them seriously wounded, to heroic efforts to overcome the battle damage and keep the ship afloat. Subsequent to the attack, although in great pain and weak from the loss of blood, Captain McGonagle remained at his battle station and continued to conn his ship for more than seventeen hours. It was only after rendezvous with a United States destroyer that he relinquished personal control of the Liberty and permitted himself to be removed from the bridge. Even then, he refused much needed medical attention until convinced that the seriously wounded among his crew had been treated. Captain McGonagle's superb professionalism, courageous fighting spirit, and valiant leadership saved his ship and many lives. His actions sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."