Stuff You Should Know
The SS William S. Ladd was an American Liberty Ship used by the US Navy during World War II whose mission was carrying dry cargo in the war areas. It was named in the honor of William S. Ladd, the American politician and mayor of Portland throughout the 1850s. The ship’s construction started out in late August 1943 and launched just 15 days later. Like most other Liberty Ships, the SS William S. Ladd’s task throughout the war was carrying war cargo into the Pacific Front, specifically anchoring in ports such as Pearl Harbor, Australia, Guadalcanal, Hollandia, and Manaus. While anchored in Leyte, preparing to discharge 500 barrels of gasoline and 150 tons of ammunition, the ship got attacked by a squadron of Japanese kamikaze bombers. The ship managed to shot down 3 of them, the last one crashing into it and inflicted heavy damage on the ship. The vessel caught on fire and several other explosions followed which pushed the crew into abandoning the ship. None of the crewmen and armed guards aboard the ship died, but several were wounded and taken to Leyte for medical attention. The ship now lies at the bottom of the Leyte Gulf. It shot down a record of 4 Japanese planes, 1 of them just 5 days before the fatal attack and was the last ship built in the Northwest Pacific to be destroyed by enemy fire.