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60 Free photos of SS John W. Brown Liberty Ship, Veterans Day Cruise from Baltimore, Maryland, USA

SS John W. Brown is a Liberty ship, one of two still floating today. The Liberty ships were steam powered with triple expansion, reciprocating engines. They were cargo and troop carrying vessels built in the United States during World War II. They were British in conception but adapted by the USA, cheap and quick to build, and came to symbolize U.S. wartime industrial output. Based on vessels ordered by Britain to replace ships torpedoed by German U-boats, they were purchased for the U.S. fleet and for lend-lease provision to Britain. Eighteen American shipyards built 2,751 Liberties between 1941 and 1945, easily the largest number of ships produced to a single design. As these pictures below show, they were quite heavily armed with various anti aircraft guns and large enough guns to give pause to any attacking ship or surfaced submarine. These guns were manned by skilled men of the Naval Armed Guard.


The production of these vessels mirrored, on a much larger scale, the manufacture of the Hog Island ship and similar standardized types during the First World War. The immense effort to build Liberty ships, the sheer number of ships built, and the fact that some of the ships survived far longer than the original design life of five years, make them the subject of much study.The ship is today a museum docked in Baltimore Harbor. The ship was named after labor union leader John W. Brown. The SS John W. Brown made 13 wartime voyages to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, including duty during the Anzio landings. She was also part of the invasion force of Southern France during Operation Dragoon in August, 1944. The US Navy Armed Guard gunners of the John W. Brown may have shot down one enemy plane during the invasion of Southern France in August, 1944, though this was never confirmed. After the war, the John W. Brown carried government cargoes to help rebuild war-torn Europe and returned American troops to the United States. After 1946, she was loaned by the government to the City of New York, where she became a floating nautical high school, the only one in the United States. The ship served in that capacity from 1946 to 1982, graduating thousands of students prepared to begin careers in the Merchant Marine, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. When her schoolship days had ended, the first Project Liberty Ship was formed in New York City to preserve the ship. They were not successful in finding her a berth in New York and she was towed to the James River Reserve Fleet in July 1983 with her future in serious doubt. In 1988 Project Liberty Ship Baltimore was able to rescue her and restore her, and found her a home in Baltimore, Maryland near where she was built. In September 1988, the John W. Brown was rededicated as a memorial museum at ceremonies at Dundalk Marine Terminal. After three years of restoration effort, on August 24, 1991, she steamed under her own power for the first time in 45 years, and completed sea trials in the Chesapeake Bay. In 1994, the SS John W. Brown received Coast Guard Certification for coastwise ocean voyages, and in April made her first offshore voyage since 1946?\to New York Harbor. In August 1994 she made her first foreign voyage since 1946?\to Halifax, Nova Scotia, then to Boston, Massachusetts and Greenport, New York. In 2000 she visited the Great Lakes for dry docking and hull work in Toledo.

(Text and image adapted from: SS John M. Brown (2008) from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

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Free pictures of the World War Two freighter SS JOHN W. BROWN, on a Veterans Day sail from Baltimore, Maryland.

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Welcome sign of the SS John W. Brown in Baltimore
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The SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore with its propellor partly out of the water
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The SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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Sailor in WW2 naval uniform at the SS John W. Brown and the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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WW2 motor cycles at the SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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Brownie, mascot of the SS John W. Brown in Baltimore
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The topside layout of the SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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The layout of the SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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The topside layout of the SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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The topside layout of the SS John W. Brown at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore
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The stock and shop room of the SS John W. Brown
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The stock and shop room of the SS John W. Brown
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The machine shop with tools aboard the SS John W. Brown
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The machine shop with a lathe aboard the SS John W. Brown
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The machine shop with tools aboard the SS John W. Brown
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The cylinder heads of the triple expansion steam reciprocating engine of the SS John W. Brown
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Engineers keeping the SS John W. Brown operating
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Engineers keeping the SS John W. Brown operating
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Electrical control console of the SS John W. Brown
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One of several steam powered electrical generators operating on the SS John W. Brown
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One of several steam powered ventilators operating on the SS John W. Brown
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Sick bay on the SS John W. Brown
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Hatch with 65 years of paint on the SS John W. Brown
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One of the water tight bulkhead doors on the SS John W. Brown
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One of the museum rooms on the SS John W. Brown
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Veterans Day sailor on the SS John W. Brown
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Chesapeake High School Vocal Ensemble singing on the SS John W. Brown (SEE MOVIE)
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Chesapeake High School Vocal Ensemble singing on the SS John W. Brown
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Outside bridge on the SS John W. Brown as the ship makes way.
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Outside bridge on the SS John W. Brown as the ship makes way.
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Lifeboat on the SS John W. Brown
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Lifeboat on the SS John W. Brown
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Navigation room on the SS John W. Brown
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Inside bridge with half inch steel armor on the SS John W. Brown
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Mates quarters on the SS John W. Brown
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Winches on the SS John W. Brown
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Anchor chain and windlass on the SS John W. Brown
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Ain't misbehavin" Big Band plays as the ship leaves the dock (SEE THE MOVIE)
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Veterans in WW2 uniforms on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount on the SS John W. Brown
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Gun and mount and bell on the SS John W. Brown
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Bow wave on the SS John W. Brown
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Baltimore Harbor Pilot coming to the SS John W. Brown
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Baltimore Harbor Pilot leaving the SS John W. Brown
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Baltimore Harbor Fort just outside Francis Scott Key Bridge
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Tugboat CAPE ROMAIN helping turn the SS John W. Brown in the ship channel of Baltimore Harbor
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Baltimore Harbor just outside Francis Scott Key Bridge
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Clamshell dredge hoisting a load in Baltimore Harbor
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Hospital Ship COMFORT in Baltimore Harbor
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Automobile freighter MARTORELL leaving Baltimore Harbor

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Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor

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Fire boat spraying water into the air in Baltimore Harbor
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Naval veteran aboard the SS John W. Brown
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SS John W. Brown tied up at the North Locust Point Marine Terminal in Baltimore

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History and service of the Liberty Ships.

In 1936, the American Merchant Marine Act was passed to subsidize the annual construction of 50 commercial merchant vessels to be used in wartime by the United States Navy as naval auxiliaries. The number was doubled in 1939 and again in 1940 to 200 ships a year. Ship types included a tanker and three types of merchant vessel, all to be powered by steam turbines. Limited industrial capacity, especially for turbine construction, meant that relatively few of these ships were built. In 1940, the British Government ordered 60 tramp steamships from American yards to replace war losses and boost the merchant fleet. These Ocean class ships were simple but fairly large (for the time) with a single coal-fired, 2,500 horsepower (1.9 MW) reciprocating engine of obsolete but reliable design. Britain specified coal plants because it had plenty of coal mines but no indigenous oil fields. The predecessor designs, including the Northeast Coast, Open Shelter Deck Steamer, were based on a simple ship originally produced in Sunderland by J.L. Thompson & Sons (see Silver Line) in 1879, and widely manufactured until the SS Dorrington Court of the 1930s. The order specified an 18 inch (457 mm) increase in draught to boost displacement by 800 tons to 10,100 tons. The accommodation, bridge and main engine of these vessels were located amidships, with a long tunnel to connect the main engine shaft to its aft extension to the propeller. The first Ocean-class ship, Ocean Vanguard was launched on 16 August 1941. The design was modified by the United States Maritime Commission to conform to American construction practices and to make it even quicker and cheaper to build. The U.S. version was designated EC2-S-C1 ?\ Emergency Cargo, 2 = large ship. The new design replaced much riveting, which accounted for one-third of the labour costs, with welding and featured oil-fired boilers.

The order was given to a conglomerate of West Coast engineering and construction companies known as the Six Companies, headed by Henry J. Kaiser, and was also adopted as the Merchant Marine Act design. On 27 March 1941, the number of lend-lease ships was increased to 200 by the Defense Aid Supplemental Appropriations Act, and increased again in April to 306, of which 117 would be Liberty ships. The ships were constructed of welded sections that were then welded together. This is similar to the technique used by Palmer's at Jarrow but substitutes welding for riveting. Riveted ships took several months to construct. The work force was newly trained - no one previously built welded ships. As America entered the war the shipbuilding yards employed women to replace men who were enlisting in the armed forces. The ships initially had a poor public image because of their looks. In a speech announcing the emergency shipbuilding program, President Roosevelt had referred to the ship as "a dreadful looking object," and Time magazine called it an "Ugly Duckling." To try to assuage public opinion, 27 September 1941 was designated Liberty Fleet Day, and the first 14 "Emergency" vessels were launched that day. The first of these was SS Patrick Henry, launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In remarks at the launch ceremony, FDR cited Patrick Henry's 1775 speech that finished "Give me liberty or give me death". Roosevelt said that this new class of ships would bring liberty to Europe, which gave rise to the name Liberty Ship. Early on, each ship took about 230 days to build (Patrick Henry took 244 days), but the average eventually dropped to 42 days. The record was set by Robert E. Peary, which was launched 4 days and 15 1/2 hours after the keel was laid, although this publicity stunt was not repeated -- and in fact much fitting-out and other work remained to be done after the Peary was launched.

The ships were made assembly-line style, from prefabricated sections. In 1943, three new Liberty ships were being completed every day. They were mainly named after famous Americans, starting with the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Any group which raised War bonds worth $2 million could propose a name. Most were named for deceased people. The only living namesake was Francis J. O'Gara, the purser of the SS Jean Nicolet, who was thought to have been killed in a submarine attack but in fact survived the war in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Other exceptions to the naming rule were the SS Stage Door Canteen, named for the USO club in New York, and the SS U.S.O., named after the organization itself .

Another notable Liberty ship was SS Stephen Hopkins, which sank the German commerce raider Stier in a ship-to-ship gun battle in 1942 and became the first American ship to sink a German surface combatant. SS Richard Montgomery is also notable, though in a less positive way; the wreck of the ship lies off the coast of Kent with 1,500 tons of explosives still on board, enough to match a small nuclear weapon should they ever go off. The last Liberty ship constructed was the SS Albert M. Boe, launched on 26 September 1945 and delivered on 30 October 1945. She was named after the chief engineer of a United States Army freighter who had stayed below decks to shut down his engines after a 13 April 1945 explosion, an act that won him a posthumous Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal.

Problems with Early Liberty Ships.

Early ships suffered hull and deck cracks, and a few were lost to such structural defects. During World War II, there were nearly 1,500 instances of significant brittle fractures. Nineteen ships broke in half without warning, including the SS John P. Gaines, which sank on 24 November 1943 with the loss of 10 lives. Suspicion fell on the shipyards who had often used inexperienced workers and new welding techniques to produce large numbers of ships in great haste. Constance Tipper of Cambridge University demonstrated that the fractures were not initiated by welding, but instead by the grade of steel used which suffered from embrittlement. She discovered that the ships in the North Atlantic were exposed to temperatures that could fall below a critical point when the mechanism of cracking changed from ductile to brittle, and thus the hull could fracture relatively easily. The predominantly welded (as opposed to riveted) hull construction then allowed cracks to run for large distances unimpeded. One common type of crack nucleated at the square corner of a hatch which coincided with a welded seam, both the corner and the weld acting as stress concentrators. Furthermore, the ships were frequently grossly overloaded and some of the problems occurred during or after severe storms at sea that would have placed any ship at risk. Various reinforcements were applied to the Liberty Ships to arrest the crack problems, and the successor design, the Victory ship, was built stronger and less stiff to better deal with fatigue. Several designs of mass-produced petroleum tankers were also produced, the most numerous being the T2 tanker series, with about 490 built between 1942 and the end of 1945.

After the World War 2.

Many Liberty ships survived the war, and made up a large percentage of the postwar cargo fleet. Many were bought by Greek shipowners at very low prices. Shipping magnates like Theodoracopoulos were known to have started their fleets by buying many Liberties. The term "Liberty-size cargo" for 10,000 tons may still be heard in the shipping business. In the 1960s three Liberty ships were reactivated and converted to technical research ships (they were actually used to gather electronic intelligence and for radar picket duties) by the U.S. Navy with the hull type AGTR. SS Samuel R. Ailken became the USS Oxford (AGTR-1), SS Robert W. Hart became the USS Georgetown (AGTR-2), and SS J. Howland Gardner became the USS Jamestown (AGTR-3). All of these ships were decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Register in 1969 and 1970. As of 2005, two operational Liberty ships survive: the SS John W. Brown (following a long career as a school ship and many internal modifications) and the Jeremiah O'Brien, largely in original condition. Both museum ships, they still put out to sea regularly. In 1994, the O'Brien steamed from San Francisco to England and France, the only large ship that participated in the World War II D-Day invasion to return for the 50th anniversary. The SS Albert M. Boe survives as Star of Kodiak, a floating cannery, docked in Kodiak Harbor.  

U.S. shipyards

Liberty ships were built at eighteen shipyards located along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts. Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding, Mobile, Alabama
American International Shipbuilding Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Baltimore, Maryland
California Shipbuilding Corp., Los Angeles, California
Delta Shipbuilding Corp., New Orleans, Louisiana
J. A. Jones, Panama City, Florida
J. A. Jones, Brunswick, Georgia.
Kaiser Company, Vancouver, Washington
Marinship, Sausalito, California
New England Shipbuilding East Yard, South Portland, Maine, a subsidiary of Bath Iron Works.
New England Shipbuilding West Yard, South Portland, Maine
North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina
Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon
Richmond Shipyards, Richmond, California, a Kaiser facility
St. Johns River Shipbuilding, Jacksonville, Florida
Southeastern Shipbuilding, Savannah, Georgia
Todd Houston Shipbuilding, Houston, Texas
Walsh-Kaiser Co., Inc., Providence, Rhode Island

(Text and image adapted from: Liberty Ships (2008) from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)






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This page last updated August 2014