The Liberty Ships served their purpose going into the war, but it soon became apparent that they were too slow and too small to carry all the supplies needed for the war effort. The United States began a new program of shipbuilding in 1942. The faster, larger ships in this second wave were called Victory Ships.
On December 20, 1942, the Idaho Stateman announced that “Idaho’s victory ship, the William E. Borah, will slide down the ways at Portland, Ore., on Dec. 27.” Mary M. Borah, the widow of the late senator and Idaho’s Governor Chase Clark would be on hand to witness the launch.
Also invited to the ceremony were several Idaho school children who had won scrap-collecting contests. Though they probably didn’t collect enough scrap metal to build a ship, children from North Idaho and South Idaho met up in Portland for the event the day after Christmas.
The SS William E. Borah served the merchant fleet for 19 years before being scrapped in 1961, perhaps to serve again in some new form.