SS Ben Robertson

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The SS Ben Robertson was a Liberty ship, Maritime Commission hull number 2432, built during World War II and named for Clemson alumnus (Class of 1923), journalist, and war correspondent Benjamin F. Robertson, who was killed in the crash of a Pan American Boeing 314 flying boat, the Yankee Clipper, in the Tagus River, near Lisbon, Portugal, on February 22, 1943.

Liberty ships were a mass-produced wartime design. Eighteen American shipyards built 2,751 Libertys between 1941 and 1945, easily the largest number of ships produced to a single design. Originally a British design, the U.S. version was designated 'EC2-S-C1': 'EC' for Emergency Cargo, '2' for a ship between 400 and 450 feet (120 and 140 m) long (Load Waterline Length), 'S' for steam engines, and 'C1' for design C1. The new design replaced much riveting, which accounted for one-third of the labor costs, with welding, and featured oil-fired boilers.

The first of these new ships was launched on September 27, 1941. It was named the SS Patrick Henry after the American Revolutionary War patriot who had famously declared, "Give me liberty, or give me death." Consequently, all the EC2 type of emergency cargo ships came to be known as Liberty ships.

The cargo vessel SS Ben Robertson, was constructed at the yards of the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation, Savannah, Georgia, one of 88 Libertys the yard built. Laid down on November 18, 1943, it was launched on January 4, 1944. Mrs. Julian Longley, Robertson's sister, of Dalton, Georgia, was sponsor for the new ship, part of a nationwide maritime program of naming Liberty ships for war correspondents killed in action. (The Tiger, "The Ben Robertson Is Launched at Savannah Shipyard January 7"[sic], Thursday 20 January 1944, Volume XXXIX, Number 6, page 1.) The new vessel was delivered on January 21, 1944, having spent 47 days on the ways and 17 in the water for a total of 64 day abuilding. It was operated for the War Shipping Administration by A. H. Bull Co,. Inc. of New York.

Designed to be turned out at utmost speed, the Kaiser Permanente Metals Corp. No. 2 Yard in Richmond, California, set the record for constructing a Liberty ship when it built the SS Robert E. Peary, from keel laying to launching, in 4 days 15 hours and 30 minutes, November 8-12, 1942. The Peary was then outfitted, painted, taken on sea trials, and the vessel fully loaded with 10,000 tons of cargo. The Peary sailed seven days after her keel was laid. (Reference: http://www.liberty-ship.com/html/yards/introduction.html#top)

More than 2,400 Liberty ships survived the war, only 196 having been lost in combat. Of these, 835 made up the postwar cargo fleet. Greek entrepreneurs bought 526 ships and Italian ones bought 98. The SS Ben Robertson was sold to a Greek private firm in 1946, Constantine G. Gratsos, Athens, and reflagged for Greece. In 1947, she was renamed Kastor, under the same owner (Dracoulis Ltd, London). In 1949, she was operated by George D. Gratsos, Athens. In 1963, she was operated by Gratsos Bros., Athens. She reached the end of her life in 1968 when she was scrapped at Hirao, Japan. (Reference: http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibshipsB.html.)

Only two operational Liberty ships, the SS John W. Brown and the Jeremiah O'Brien, remain. The John Brown has had a long career as a school ship and many internal modifications, while the Jeremiah O'Brien remains largely in its original condition. Both are museum ships that still put out to sea regularly. In 1994, the O'Brien steamed from San Francisco to England and France for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the only large ship from the original Overlord fleet to participate in the anniversary. In 2008, the Arthur M. Huddell was transferred to Greece and was converted to a floating museum dedicated to the history of the Greek merchant marine; however, while missing major components were restored, this ship is no longer operational.

This article contains material from the mainside Wikipedia.