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S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien
World War II Liberty Ship

By
Rob Mackie

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36 high quality images of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien especially useful for Liberty ship modelers

 

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Click the turning gears to
visit the engine room used in
Titanic, the movie

Tom's Modelworks makes a 1/700 Liberty ship, and Iron Shipwright offers a 1/350 full hull kit.  Skywave will be releasing an injection molded Liberty in June 1998.

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Click
to view a nice pic of the O'Brien steaming to Normandy, 1994

Jeremiah O'Brien Web Page has location and cruise information

(excerpted from the "Self Guided Tour" booklet)
Before World War II, shipbuilding in the U.S. was not a major industry. But with German U-boats sinking ships off the east coast within sight of land, England on her knees, and the Japanese conquering Asia and the Western Pacific, it was absolutely essential to build a large, strong U.S. Merchant Marine to carry combat supplies and materials to Allied fighting forces.

The U.S. became the "Arsenal of Democracy." Typewriter firms built rifles, auto makers turned out tanks, and millions of Americans migrated to the West Coast to build Liberty Ships in yards springing up near major cities.

The Liberty design was a modification of an earlier British hull. Economical and simple to build, it ushered in the era of prefabricated mass production. Eighteen yards built Liberty ships and one third of the workforce were women.Without these ships the war simply would not have been won.

Built in 1943 in 56 days in So. Portland, Maine, the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien was launched on June 19th, 1943. She made four trips between the U.S. and Great Britain traveling as part of a convoy, a proven and effective deterrent to submarine attack. She made 11 shuttle trips between England and the newly taken Omaha and Utah beachheads at Normandy. Crewmen report her guns engaged enemy aircraft and that she was the target of at least two bomb attacks and one torpedo.

Still seaworthy 55 years after her launch, the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien is moored in San Francisco near the Bay Bridge. I never tire of visiting her.  The volunteer crewmen keep her in perfect operating condition and visitors have the run of the ship, including the engine room and its turn-of-the-century triple expansion steam engine. Visit her on the third weekend of every month when she gets up a head of steam and you are in for a  treat. The "black gang" will explain the workings of the hissing steam engine and certainly won't fail to mention that Titanic used the O'Brien's steam plant as backdrop for some of that movie's engine room scenes.

I photographed the O'Brien on a blustery, overcast day in February 1998 - perfect photography weather. Those of you attending the US IPMS Nationals in Santa Clara this July should take advantage of the host club's tour of the O'Brien. You won't regret it.