Chapter 3 Engineering Disasters

Nautical Disaster – Liberty Ships in World War II 1940

Early Liberty ships suffered hull and deck cracks, and a few were lost to such structural defects. During World War II, there were nearly 1,500 instances of significant brittle fractures. Three of the 2,710 Liberties built broke in half without warning. In cold temperatures the steel hulls cracked, resulting in later ships being constructed using more suitable steel.


SS John W. Brown is one of only two surviving operational Liberty ships.

Photograph taken in 2000

Source is Projet Liberty Ship


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To the extent possible under law, Jennifer Kirkey has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Engineering and Technology in Society - Canada, except where otherwise noted.

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