6. Shipyards were built solely to construct Liberty ships
In 1940 Savannah Shipyards of Georgia began construction of a yard. Slow progress led to a revocation of its contract by the Maritime Commission in 1942. Another company, Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation, took over the yard and completed its construction in just a few months. By early 1943 the first Liberty ship from the yard, SS James Oglethorpe, steamed from Savannah, bound for New York. Ships steaming along the American coastline did so at considerable risk at that stage of the war, but Oglethorpe reached New York safely. Though its holds were fully laden, the ship took on additional cargo. Trucks and aircraft, as well as other vehicles, covered its decks when it departed as part of a convoy bound for Liverpool in March, 1943. Ahead of it lay the frigid North Atlantic in the dead of winter.
The convoy, of 50 cargo vessels supported by 5 escorts, encountered its first U-boats on March 16, 1943. Over the next several days three successive waves of U-boat attacks ravaged the convoy. Eight Allied ships sank over a period of eight hours during March 16-17. Among them were SS James Oglethorpe, after just 33 days of active service. Of the 74 men aboard 44 were lost. In all, 13 Allied ships were lost from the convoy, 6 of them American Liberty ships. Back at the Southeastern Shipbuilding yard, work continued in three shifts per day, seven days per week. Nearly two years later, March 15, 1945, the yard launched its final Liberty ship of the war, SS Patrick B. Whalen. Throughout the course of the war the Brunswick yard launched 85 Liberty ships; its nearby compatriot, the Savannah yards, produced another 88.