Wednesday, March 28, 2018
N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 11: Launching of the Vance and Its Service
The SS Zebulon Vance was the first of 243 ships to be built in Wilmington at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Companyduring the war. Most were of the Liberty Ship design, but others were of the Victory Ship design which were faster. Twenty-seven were sunk.
But, the Vance is lucky. It survived a torpedo attack and floating mines on the dreaded Murmansk, Soviet Union, run. It then was part of the transport fleet for the invasion of North Africa. Later it did duty as a hospital ship, renamed the USS John J. Meany. Its final duty in the war was to transport war brides home from Europe.
But, back to its launching. Spectators mobbed the riverbanks. The Vance was festooned stem to stern with nautical flags. It slid down to the river stern-first. Tugboats blasted their whistles and then nudges the ship alongside its fitting-out dock.