The Military Sealift Command currently is grappling with having enough cargo ships in the Ready Reserve Force to deliver troops, arms, and cargo when and where needed across the globe. The nation has faced this challenge before, and it was met in astounding fashion, as noted in Proceedings 60 years ago:
One of the strongest of several factors which turned the tide of war and ensured final victory for the Allies in World War II was the vast armada of ships produced by American yards. In late 1940, the Maritime Commission selected as ideally suited for mass production the Liberty ship type. . . . Launched between 1941 and 1945, this huge fleet of emergency ships directly led to decisive victory. Without the supplies they carried, the great Allied air fleets would have been grounded for lack of gasoline and bombs. The North African, European, and Pacific invasions could not have been attempted. There would have been no Normandy, no Lingayen Gulf, and no Tokyo Bay.1
1. John Bunker, “Tribute to the Liberties,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 86, no. 3 (March 1960).
2. John Gorley Bunker, Liberty Ships: The Ugly Ducklings of World War II (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1972).
3. Bunker, Liberty Ships, 12.
4. Bunker, 7.
5. Bunker, 107–8.
ν Mr. Clift is the U.S. Naval Institute’s vice president for planning and operations and president emeritus of the National Intelligence University.