In 1999, an old cargo ship, the Zhan Dou 43, ended its long career somewhere in China. This seemingly mundane event marked the end of the most incredible maritime and industrial saga.
The Zhan Dou 43 was launched in Baltimore in 1943 and was the last Liberty Ship still plying for trade. Between September 1941 and August 1945, the American built 2,710 absolutely identical cargo vessels christened Liberty Ships.
Two were launched every day. The object of the exercise was simple: build more ships than the German and Japanese submarines could sink. The cargo ships were intended to provide fresh supplies of men and equipment to all theatres of operation in the Second World War. The D-day landings, on 6 June 1944, would never have been possible without them.