2,710 American cargo ships, popularly named liberty ships were built from 1941-1945. Of simple pre-fabricated design, relatively inexpensive and rapidly-produced, they became a symbol of American wartime industrial output.
To counteract initial public disdain regarding the ships’ quality, President Roosevelt referred to Patrick Henry‘s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech of 1775 at the launching of the SS Patrick Henry in September 1941.
While the first ships took 230 days to build, the average eventually dropped to 42 days. In 1943, three Liberty ships were completed daily. The record was set by the SS Robert E. Peary which was launched 4 days and 15½ hours after the keel was laid.