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Section Patrol Craft Photo Archive

Liberator (ID 3134)



Navy call sign:
George - Dog - Vice - Nan



Civilian call sign (1919):
Love - Mike - Cast - King

Transport:

  • Built in 1918 as Wichita by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA
  • Launched 24 March 1918
  • Acquired by the Navy 2 July 1918 and commissioned USS Liberator (ID 3134) the same day
  • Decommissioned 4 October 1919 at Bayonne, NJ and returned to the United States Shipping Board
  • Sold in 1933 to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Company of New Orleans, LA
  • On 19 March 1942 the SS Liberator was sailing en route from Galveston, Texas to New York, carrying 11,000 tons of sulphur. She was traveling alone approximately 3 miles west of Diamond Shoals. She carried a 4" deck gun
    as protection against U-boats. At 1019 (Eastern War Time) EWT, a torpedo struck the port side on the aft end of the engine room. The engine room was demolished and five crew members were killed in the explosion. The
    ship sank 21 minutes later. The 31 survivors were picked up by the USS Umpqua (ATO-25) at 1125 EWT. They were taken to Morehead City, North Carolina. The night before, on the evening of March 18th, while
    rounding Cape Lookout, the gun crew of the Liberator mistakenly fired two shots in to the bridge of the USS Dickerson (DD-157). The Dickerson was on anti-submarine patrol and running blacked-out and steaming at
    nearly full speed. The friendly fire killed three crew of the destroyer instantly. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander J. K. Reynold was mortally wounded and died 10 minutes before the Dickerson docked safely
    the next morning at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. This was approximately the same time the Liberator was being torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-332. The crew of the Liberator later
    reported that before their own sinking, they had engaged a U-boat in battle and sunk the German submarine.

    Specifications:

  • Displacement 6,027 t.
  • Length 410'
  • Beam 56'
  • Draft 30' 6"
  • Speed 12.5 kts.
  • Complement 95
  • Armament: One 4" deck gun in 1942)
  • Propulsion: Two Scotch boilers, one 2,800ihp reciprocating steam engine, oil burner, one shaft.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    SS Liberator
    Liberator 55k Probably photographed while fitting out at the Union Iron Works Shipyard, San Franscisco, California, with two derrick barges (one named Alameda) alongside. Pattern camouflage is being applied to her hull, forward.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 99544
    Robert Hurst
    Liberator 74k Probably photographed just after completion, already painted in World War I type 5 design B "dazzle" camouflage.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 102006
    Naval Historical Center
    USS Liberator (ID 3134)
    Liberator 108k At St. Nazaire, France, while employed as a troop transport in 1919. Handwritten (in ink) on the reverse of the original print is "Bert Oliver, Sarcoxie, MO."
    Photographed by Cuppy
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 104805
    Robert Hurst
    SS Liberator
    Liberator 126k c. 1921
    Photo from an advertisement of the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Steamship Corp.
    Michael Medwid

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History:

    Liberator

    One who frees or sets at liberty (a country) from domination by a foreign power.

    The first Liberator, an animal transport, was launched 24 March 1918 by Union Iron Works, San Francisco; acquired by the Navy 2 July 1918 and commissioned the same day, Lt Comdr. Richard Parley, NSNRF, in command.

    Assigned to NOTS, Liberator departed Mare Island 5 July; transited the Panama Canal and arrived New York 7 August. After loading cargo at New York she joined a convoy on the 13th and sailed for Europe. Arriving Brest, France, 15 days later, Liberator unloaded her cargo at French ports and prepared for another round-trip cruise from New York to France.

    After the Armistice 11 November, Liberator returned to the United States for conversion to a troop transport. Alterations completed, she made a total of five cruises to European ports to embark American veterans of World War I for return to the United States. Liberator completed her final crossing 4 September 1919, decommissioned at Hoboken, N.J. 4 October and was returned to USSB. In 1933 she was sold to Lykes Bros.-Ripley SS Co., and operated out of Galveston, Tex., until the mid-1940ís.


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