Military Wiki
SS Patrick Henry
SS Patrick Henry in September 1941.
Patrick Henry September 1941
Career (USA)
Name: SS Patrick Henry
Namesake: Patrick Henry
Builder: Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Baltimore
Yard number: 2001
Way number: 1
Laid down: 30 April 1941
Launched: 27 September 1941
Completed: 30 December 1941
Fate: Scrapped, 1958
General characteristics
Class & type: Type EC2-S-C1 Liberty ship
Displacement: 14,245 long tons (14,474 t)[1]
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m) o/a
417 ft 9 in (127.33 m) p/p
427 ft (130 m) w/l[1]
Beam: 57 ft (17 m)[1]
Draft: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)[1]
Propulsion: Two oil-fired boilers
Triple-expansion steam engine
2,500 hp (1,900 kW)
Single screw
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)[1]
Range: 20,000 nmi (37,000 km; 23,000 mi)
Capacity: 10,856 t (10,685 long tons) deadweight (DWT)[1]
Crew: 81[1]
Armament: Stern-mounted 4 in (100 mm) deck gun
Variety of anti-aircraft guns

SS Patrick Henry was the first Liberty ship launched. It was built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at their Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland, and launched on 27 September 1941.[2]


Liberty ships initially had a poor public image and to try to assuage public opinion, September 27, 1941 was designated Liberty Fleet Day, and the first 14 "Emergency" vessels were launched that day. The first of these (with MC hull number 14) was Patrick Henry, launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other "Emergency" vessels launched that day, in various yards around the country included: SS John C. Fremont, SS Louise Lykes, SS Ocean Venture, SS Ocean Voice, SS Star of Oregon, and SS Steel Artisan.[3]


In the speech delivered at the launching, Roosevelt referred to Patrick Henry's "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech of 23 March 1775. Roosevelt said that this new class of ships would bring liberty to Europe, which gave rise to the name "Liberty ship". Patrick Henry was sponsored by Ilo Browne Wallace, wife of Vice President Henry A. Wallace, with Mrs. Robert H. Jackson, wife of the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Madame Bruggmann, wife of the Minister of Switzerland Karl Bruggmann and sister of the vice president. Ilo Wallace christened the ship. The ship's fitting was completed on December 30, 1941.[3]

Service history

Her maiden voyage was to the Middle East. During World War II she made 12 voyages to ports including Murmansk (as part of Convoy PQ 18[4]) , Trinidad, Cape Town, Naples, and Dakar.[3]

She survived the war, but was seriously damaged when she went aground on a reef off the coast of Florida in July 1946. The ship was laid up at Mobile, Alabama, and was scrapped at Baltimore in 1958.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Davies, James (2012). "Liberty Cargo Ships". p. 23. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  2. "Bethlehem Fairfield". 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "The "Patrick Henry"". TS Vindicatrix Association : Iconic Ships. 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  4. Hague, Arnold (2009). "Ports database". Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  5. "Liberty Ships ("P")". 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 

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