Liberty Ship Memorial Park
Here on the bank of the Willamette River, which flows into the mighty Columbia, the Naito family created this maritime park dedicated to the Liberty Ships and to the U.S. Merchant Mariners. This park, the only one of its kind in the world, has a very special meaning to all U S Merchant Marine Veterans.
Liberty Ships crossed the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean, and they made the dreaded run through the northern seas past Norway to Murmansk, Russia. Their slowness made them a ready target and about 200 were lost through enemy action.
During WW-II 2,711 Liberty Ships were built at yards in the U.S. Of them, 322 were built in Portland by Oregon Shipbuilding. After WW-II there were 149 brought back to Portland to be scrapped. When constructed, their Bow sections were filled with Concrete for reinforcing. Those parts could not be salvaged and were buried on the site of this Memorial.
The ships were built by the nationally renowned Oregon Shipbuilding Company. Its shipyards, based in the Willamette marsh and mud flats across the river from this park, established a new model for emergency construction of high quality ships. During the Second World War years, "Oregonship" yards constructed more Liberty ships for the national fleet than any other shipyard in the country, a total of 322. The sturdy utilitarian Liberty ships had a cruising speed of 10.5 knots and a dead weight capacity of 10,800 tons.
In 1943, Oregon Shipbuilding Company switched to the construction of Victory class ships, which could carry the same weight at a faster 15 knots. During a twenty year span after the war, Zidell Exploration brought Liberty ships home to Portland as they ended their military or commercial service. This marker, at the last resting place of their bows, honors the many great ships that Oregon workers built for the nation in a time of great need.