Monday, October 10, 2011

Liberty Ships, Including Festering Liberty Ship Hulls on the Columbia River

Response teams try to contain fuel spilled into the Columbia River by the Davy Crockett, a derelict barge that split open in late January 2011 near Camas, Wash., after a scrap operation went awry. Bruce Ely, The Oregonian

I recently wrote an Oregon Encyclopedia entry on the Liberty Ship Star of Oregon, which was the first Liberty Ship that Henry Kaiser's Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation ("Oregon Ship") built.[1] Workers laid its keel in May 1941, launched the ship on September 27, 1941 ("Liberty Fleet Day"), and Oregon Ship delivered it to the U.S. Maritime Commission on December 31, 1941.

The Star of Oregon was the first Liberty Ship launched on the West coast, the second Liberty Ship launched nationally, and either the first or the second Liberty Ship actually delivered for service (my sources differ on this, and I'm still trying to figure it out).

I'm telling you all this because I have Liberty Ships on my mind of late, and then I read about a festering hulk of rotten metal corroding away on the Columbia River at Camas, Washington, and I thought you might like to know a bit more . . .

Back in January 2011, we learned that "The rusting, 431-foot long barge that's split open and leaking fuel into the Columbia River is the latest pile of junk parked on the Columbia to hit the radar screen." This barge was the "Davy Crockett, a converted Liberty ship from World War II, [that] has been moored between Camas and Vancouver on the north side of the Columbia for years."[2]

In late August 2011, we learned that "The derelict barge Davy Crockett is now out of the Columbia River -- seven months and $20 million after it first cracked open and sent toxic pollution downstream."[3]

Before the Davy Crockett polluted our local waters and cost taxpayers so much to clean up, it, too, was a Liberty Ship launched with fanfare as part of the U.S.A.'s involvement in World War II.

The Davy Crockett was the second Liberty Ship keel laid by Todd Houston Shipbuilding Corporation at Irish Bend Island, Houston, Texas. The Maritime Commission assigned it Hull Number 0096. Launched in June 1942, after service during World War II the ship was sold for scrap to an as-yet-unknown firm in Portland, Oregon, in March 1969. It was not scrapped, but resold to a firm in Richmond, California, that converted the ship into a pipelaying vessel. As of 1985, the ship was being used as "a general barge/dockside facility" at Crockett, San Pablo Bay, California.[4]

I don't know how the Davy Crockett arrived back in the Portland area some time between 1985 and 2011.

These kinds of things fascinate me. I see this as an example of how history is not some dead time in the past, but is still with us; how decisions decades ago still resonate in our time; and how our present-day environment can be negatively impacted by decisions made long ago.

[1] This entry is still in the midst of the editorial process and has not yet been published.

[2] Scott Learn and Elliot Njus, "Rusting barge cracks in half, leaks oil into Columbia River; focuses attention on derelict vessels," Oregonian, Jan. 31, 2011.

[3] Scott Learn, "Cleanup of derelict barge Davy Crockett on Columbia River nearly complete -- with a $20 million tab," Oregonian, Aug. 25, 2011.

[4] Sawyer, L.A. and W.H. Mitchell. The Liberty Ships: The History of the ‘Emergency’ Type Cargo Ships Constructed in the United States During the Second World War (2nd ed.). London: Lloyd’s of London Press, Ltd., 1985, 168.

, "," Oregonian,

No comments:

Post a Comment