In an ironic twist of fate, the stripped hulls of 12 Liberty Ships which survived enemy sinkingattempts during World War II were intentionally sunk as artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast during the mid-1970s. Texasacquired the surplus ships from the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet and placed them atfive sites during 1975-76 to create habitat formarine organisms. The Liberty Ships serve asreefs by providing a solid foundation for thegrowth and attachment of sessile organisms.This epitaph for these proud ships not only keepstheir memory and history alive, but allows themto continue to serve the citizens of Texas by enhancing marine habitat through the TexasParks and Wildlife Artificial Reef Program.Liberty Ships were originally built to bolster theUnited State’s inadequate merchant marine fleetat the beginning of World WarII. Relatively inexpensive and expendable, Liberty Ships were virtually mass-produced, with 2,581 completed.Each ship was 441feet in length and able tocarry 10,088tons of cargo in their five giantholds. These lightly armed ships carried numer-ous tons of cargo and thousands of troops tobattle zones in Europe, Africa, and the SouthPacific throughout World War II. The ships saw nearly every theater of war and traveled alongseveral essential supply routes. Most of Texas’Liberty Ships joined the perilousNorth Atlantic convoysto Great Britain more than once. Many alsomade the treacherous Murmansk run, a cold,miserable, airplane and submarine-plaguedjourney through the Arctic Circle to northernRussia. The Liberty Ships helped save the Alliedcause during World War II. After the war, they were moth balled in the Reserve Fleet, and thenbrought out to ship cargo to Europe under theMarshall Plan. The ships served again duringthe Korean War before being moth balled again.In 1994, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the TexasHistorical Commission jointly accepted thechallenge to designate the ships in the Liberty Ship Reefs as historical heritage sites. TheLiberty Ships in Texas readily attract sportanglers and scuba divers, offering them a dualencounter with magnificent reefs and America’smaritime heritage. Individual type EC-2 Liberty Ships lying in Texas waters include the:
GeorgeVancouver, William H. Allen, B.F. Shaw, Jim Bridger, George Dewey, Dwight L. Moody,George L. Farley, Edward W. Scripps, JoshuaThomas, Charles A. Dana, Rachel Jackson,
Other WWII ships found inTexas waters include the
) and the
(Type 2Tanker). While these ships had similar functionsduring WWII, each has a unique and fascinating wartime history. This report documents thathistory and their role in theartificial reef program.