C3 Class, U.S. Cargo Ships

Photograph of C3-Cargo ship

Lane (1951)


Tonnage 5386 displacement tons
7773 gross register tons
12,595 deadweight tons
Dimensions 492' by 69'6" by 28'6"
150m by 21.2m by 8.7m
Maximum speed       16.5 knots
1-shaft General Electric geared turbine (8500 shp)
2 Foster-Wheeler boilers
15,600 nautical miles (28,900 km)
879 tons
730,549 cubic feet (20,687 m3)

The C3 class were standard Maritime Commission cargo vessels. They differed from prewar designs principally in their widespread use of high pressure, high temperature turbine engines and double reduction gear, which allowed the ships to combine fuel efficiency with reasonable speed. The formal specifications were actually conservative; one ship of this class reached a speed on trials of 19.5 knots with a fuel consumption rate of 0.563 pounds per shaft horsepower per hour. Building times were on the order of 190 days.

A small percentage of these ships used all-welded construction and were about 600 tons lighter than their more conventional riveted sisters.

A number of these ships were completed as C3-C&P (Cargo and Passengers) ships with accomodations for 95 to 192 passengers. Others were completed for the Navy as escort carriers.

The only real failing of the C3s was that they were built to high enough standards that they could not be produced at the rate required for the war. This led to the conversion of most shipyards to production of the much cheaper, if also much slower and less durable, Liberty Ships. They cost about $3.5 million per ship.

Units in the Pacific:

A total of 465 C3 ships were completed between 1940 and 1947. These would have been shifted freely back and forth between theaters as needed.


Friedman (2002)

Gearhart (2009; accessed 2012-6-16)

Lane (1951)

United States Merchant Marine (accessed 2007-11-15)

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