The Ocean Class of the Second World War

...from Seaforth Publications

Title: The Ocean Class of the Second World War
Author: Malcolm Cooper
Publisher: Seaforth Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-3990-1553-0

This new 210-page hard-cover book tells the story of the Ocean class of merchant vessels, a British design built in American ship yards, at a time when British shipyards were at capacity and losses needed to be replaced.
The background starts with the British mission to the USA, all before the start of Lend-Lease, while America still wanted to remain Neutral. By the end of 1940 the arrangements were in place, with new shipyards to be created to build 60 new Ocean class of 10,000 ton cargo vessels. Deliveries began in 1942. All had two word names, the first of which was always Ocean. After all the details of the design, building details, costs and more. Then we get to the stories of the Oceans at war, how they were crewed, where they served and again, much more. Some were used in Operation Torch and then Sicily, during the Normandy invasion, on Atlantic convoys to Russia and in the Far East. Of the 60 built, 19 were lost during the war, and their stories are included in chapter 5. This is followed up with the stories of the survivors, who went on for post-war disposal to civilian shipping companies around the world, usually with a change of name. Even all their final voyages are included in a data table. The story is rounded off with an Evaluation and Conclusion on the class, plus a couple of appendices which give the specifications of the Ocean class and a set of individual vessel histories.
Illustrated with a lot of archive photos throughout the book, including when in civilian service in the final sections. As well as their own story, it also influenced the famous Liberty Ship program in the USA, with their mass production techniques as well as various design elements and use of welded construction rather than rivets. A really interesting story I had not appreciated before, and packed with detail, especially on their service in both war and peace. Another excellent naval reference from Seaforth Publications, part of Pen & Sword.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for this review copy.

Robin