Thursday, May 5, 2016

Liberty Ships in North Carolina-- Part 2: SS Zebulon B. Vance

Between 1941 and 1946, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Corporation in Wilmington produced 243 vessels, of which 125 were Liberty Ships.  In 1943, 20,000 workers were involved in this effort.  Many of these Liberty Ships were named for famous North Carolinians and for cities, counties that conducted war bond drives.

On 6 December 1941 the SS Zebulon B. Vance was the first Liberty Ship launched in Wilmington, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II.  The Vance made several successful runs to London before being damaged by a mine of a return trip; it was repaired and rejoined the Liberty fleet.

Later, the Vance was converted to a hospital ship and renamed the USS John J. Meany.  Finally, it was reconverted to the Vance to transport "war bride" dependents of American military personnel to the United States.  These were women overseas, mostly England, who had married service men.

--  GreGen

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