9. Despite their shortcomings, Liberty ships were used as troop transports
In late summer, 1942, the War Shipping Administration began the process of converting Liberty ships to troop transports in support of the invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch. More than 200 available Liberty ships underwent hasty conversion. The Liberty ships offered little in the way of amenities for passengers, which the troops carried in them were. Field latrines installed on deck offered the only facilities for the troops to relieve themselves, flushed with fire hoses. Berthing in the holds did not include air conditioning, or heat for that matter. There were no recreation facilities of any kind, leaving the troops to their own devices when attempting to alleviate the boredom. The Liberty ships were converted to carry about 550 troops, though in practice most carried many more than that, due to the manner in which Army units were formed.
In 1943 the US Coast Guard recommended the ships be removed from the duty of troop transportation, citing, among other things, the dangers presented by hull cracking. Nonetheless, they continued to transport troops in all theaters of the war. They also returned to the United States laden with prisoners of war, carrying them to camps throughout America and Canada. And when the war came to an end, they participated in Operation Magic Carpet, conveying home the troops which had fought in the European theater, and later those from the Pacific. By the end of the war well over 500 Liberty ships had been converted to troop transports, despite significant opposition to their use in that duty from the US Navy, Coast Guard, and the Senate. The exigencies of war overrode the dangers and discomfort presented to the men and women who sailed in the ships.