All Aboard the SS Edward W. Bok

Did you know that Edward Bok had a ship named after him? The SS Edward W. Bok was a Liberty ship, built in Jacksonville, Florida, and launched on March 11, 1944.

Liberty ships are a type of cargo ship used by the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. The ships transported a variety of essential goods and even sometimes soldiers to all theaters of the war. Because of the manner and speed with which they were produced, they became a symbol of American industrial strength and remain the most popular type of ship ever produced.

The model of the ships, officially designated as EC2-S-C1, was given the nickname “Liberty ships” at the launch on the first ship, the SS Patrick Henry. President Franklin Roosevelt made reference to Patrick Henry’s famous speech, “give me liberty or give me death,” and said that these ships would bring liberty to Europe1. Each of the 2,710 Liberty ships launched was named in honor of a prominent American.

At her launching ceremony, the SS Edward W. Bok was “christened” by Catherine Van Dyke Nornabell and Ursula Nornabell. Catherine was a journalist who has worked for Edward Bok reporting on World War I from Europe for The Ladies Home Journal. Catherine’s husband, Major H.M. Nornabell, was the first director of Bok Tower Gardens. And Ursula is their daughter, affectionately recognized around the Gardens as the young girl photographed with Edward Bok and President Calvin Coolidge at the dedication of Bok Tower Gardens in 1929.

Although the SS Edward W. Bok transferred ownership and was renamed several times over the years, she remained in service until 1970. Only two Liberty ships remain in service today.

1Project Liberty Ship,

Ursula & Catherine Nornabell

Catherine Nornaball christens the SS Edward W. Bok

Major H.M. Nornabell

Mr. Merrill pinning Catherine Nornabell

Mr. Merrill pinning Ursula Nornabell