Military Wiki
SS Jeremiah O'Brien
Jeremiah O'Brien (Liberty ship, San Francisco).JPG
World War II Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California
Career (United States)
Name: Jeremiah O'Brien
Namesake: Jeremiah O'Brien
Owner: War Shipping Administration
Operator: Grace Line, Inc.
Builder: New England Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 6 May 1943
Launched: 19 June 1943
In service: 3 July 1943
Out of service: 7 February 1946
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Class & type: EC2-S-C1 (Liberty ship)
Displacement: 14,245 short tons (12,923 t)
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)
Beam: 57 ft (17 m)
Draft: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)
Propulsion: 3-cylinder reciprocating triple expansion steam engines
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)
Armament: 8 × 20-millimetre (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun
1 × 3-inch (76 mm) gun
1 × 5-inch (130 mm) gun

SS Jeremiah O'Brien is a Liberty ship built during World War II and named for American Revolutionary War ship captain Jeremiah O'Brien (1744–1818). Now based in San Francisco, Jeremiah O'Brien is a rare survivor of the 6,939-ship armada[1] that stormed Normandy on D-Day, 1944,[2]a and one of only two currently operational World War II Liberty ships afloat of the 2,710 built during the war (the other being the SS John W. Brown based in Baltimore).[3]


Built in just 56 days at the New England Shipbuilding Corporation in South Portland, Maine, and launched on 19 June 1943, this class EC2-S-CI ship not only made four perilous round trip wartime crossings of the Atlantic and served on D-Day, the vessel later saw sixteen months of service in both the $3 and the Indian Ocean calling at ports in Chile, Peru, New Guinea, the Philippines, India, China, and Australia.

The end of the war caused most of the Liberty ships to be removed from service in 1946 and many were subsequently sold to foreign and domestic buyers. Others were retained by the U.S. Maritime Commission for potential reactivation in the event of future military conflicts. Jeremiah O'Brien was mothballed and remained in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay for 33 years. In the 1970s, however, the idea of preserving an unaltered Liberty Ship began to be developed and, under the sponsorship of Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson, USMS, (then the Western Regional Director of the U.S. Maritime Administration) the ship was put aside for preservation instead of being sold for scrap. In a 1994 interview printed by the Vintage Preservation magazine "Old Glory," Patterson is alleged to have claimed the ship was steamed to her anchorage in the mothball fleet (unlike the many that were secured as unservicable and towed into storage), and frequently placed at the back of the list for disposal, which undoubtedly contributed to her survival.

An all volunteer group, the National Liberty Ship Memorial (NLSM), acquired Jeremiah O'Brien in 1979 for restoration. At that time she was virtually the last Liberty at the anchorage. Amazingly, those who volunteered to resurrect the mothballed ship (led by Captain Edward MacMichael, NLSM Executive Director and Master) were able to get the antiquated steam plant operating while she remained in Suisun Bay. After more than three decades in mothballs, Jeremiah O'Brien's boilers were lit. The ship left the mothball fleet on 21 May 1980 bound for San Francisco Bay, drydocking, and thousands of hours of restoration work. She was the only Liberty Ship to leave the mothball fleet under her own power.[4] She then moved to Fort Mason, on the San Francisco waterfront just to the west of Fisherman's Wharf. There Jeremiah O'Brien became a floating museum dedicated to the men and women who built and sailed the ships of United States Merchant Marine in World War II. Licensed to carry tours around San Francisco bay, it was suggested that the ship be restored to ocean going specification, and after efforts in securing sponsorship this was accomplished in time for the 50th "D-Day" Anniversary Celebrations in 1994. The ship makes several passenger-carrying daylight cruises each year in the San Francisco Bay Area, and occasional voyages to more distant ports such as Seattle and San Diego.

Footage of the ship's engines was used in the 1997 film Titanic to depict the ill-fated ship's own engines.

50th Anniversary of D-Day

SS Jeremiah O'Brien underway in San Pablo Bay on August 27, 2005, as seen from the aft steering station

In 1994 the Jeremiah O'Brien, in its eighth voyage, (the previous seven were during World War II) steamed through the Golden Gate, down the west coast, through the Panama Canal, and across the Atlantic to England and France, where Jeremiah O'Brien and her crew (a volunteer crew of veteran World War II-era sailors and a few cadets from the California Maritime Academy) participated in the 50th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of Normandy that turned the tide of World War II in Europe — the only large ship from the original Normandy flotilla to return for the 50th anniversary celebration.

SS Jeremiah O'Brien was designated a National Historic Landmark, and is docked at Pier 45 at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California. It also hosts the amateur radio station K6JOB.


See also


^a While the preceding reference claims that Jeremiah O'Brien is the sole surviving D-Day armada ship, there is at least one other: the tugboat Nash, another National Historic Landmark ship located in Oswego, New York.


  1. "American Merchant Marine Ships at Normandy in June 1944". U.S. Maritime Service Veterans. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  2. "SS Jeremiah O'Brien". World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  3. Sawyer, L. A.; Mitchell, W. H. (1985). The Liberty Ships (second ed.). London: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd.. pp. 229–237. 
  4. "History of the O'Brien". Retrieved 2011-07-31. [dead link]

External links

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