Anyone visiting the Inner Harbor yesterday couldn’t help but notice an unusual addition to the Baltimore waterscape. As a small, red fire boat pulled an enormous grey ship into the harbor, many Baltimore visitors and residents were left staring in awe as the 441 feet long SS John W. Brown made its return to Baltimore.
The ship, which will be in town until Sunday, has quite the history with the city. Built in Baltimore in 1941, at Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard, the SS John W. Brown served the United States during World War II, before being retired from the Navy fleet in 1946. Upon retirement, the ship was loaned to the City of New York to be used as a floating maritime high school, where it was kept in use until 1982. In 1983 the ship was towed to the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia to await new direction. Returning to Baltimore in 1988, Project Liberty Ship Baltimore was able to restore the ship to its former glory and home, before dedicating the ship as a memorial museum. Completing the ship restoration in 1991, the ship now serves as a traveling museum, one of only five merchant ship memorials in the country.
Today and Saturday mark an even rarer occurrence for the ship, as the SS John W. Brown will be temporarily designated as a United States Post Office to help celebrate the release of the new U.S. Merchant Marines postage stamp collection, with one of the ships in the collection being a liberty ship.
Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, and 6 – 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. A $5 donation is suggested for admission to the ship. For more information visit the website at www.liberty-ship.com.
—Summer editorial intern Tyler Green wrote this piece.