S.S. John W. Brown at Penn's Landing

On display during the Delaware River Day over Memorial Day Weekend was the S.S. John W. Brown. One of two surviving, fully operational Liberty ships preserved in the United States, the S.S. John W. Brown is the product of an emergency shipbuilding program of World War II that resulted in the construction of more than 2,700 Liberty ships.

Designed as cheap and quickly built cargo steamers, the Liberty ships formed the backbone of a massive sealift of troops, arms, material and ordnance to every theater of war. Two-thirds of all the cargo that left the United States during the war was shipped in Liberty ships. Two hundred of them were lost, either to enemy action or to a range of maritime mishaps such as collision, grounding or fire at sea, but there were simply so many of them that the enemy could never hope to sink enough Liberty ships to close the sea lanes, and the supplies got through.


Class: EC2-S-C1 Type Liberty Ship
Launched: September 7, 1942
At: Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Baltimore, Maryland
Length: 441 feet, 6 inches
Beam:57 feet
Draft: 27 feet, 9 inches
Displacement: 14,245 tons
Gross: 7,176 tons
Capacity: 8,500 long tons
Armament: Three 3-inch/50 caliber guns; one 5-inch/38 caliber gun; eight 20mm guns.

USS John W. Brown Dressed and Underway

The S.S. John W. Brown looks now almost exactly as she did toward the endof World War II. Despite her grey paint and many guns, she is not a warship but rather a merchant ship.

The Brown was built by the government and was under the control of the War Shipping Administration. This ship and her many sisters were operated under what was known as a general agency agreement, by almost 90 different American steamship companies, which were paid by Uncle Sam to manage the ships. The cargo they carried and the ports they visited were entirely controlled by the government.

A Liberty ship can carry almost 9,000 tons of cargo, about the same as 300 railroad boxcars. Liberty ships carried every conceivable cargo during the war – from beans to bullets. Some, like the John W. Brown, were also fitted out to carry troops as well as cargo. Around 500 soldiers at a time could be carried aboard this ship. She saw duty in many Mediterranean ports during invasions and steamed in convoys that were attacked by enemy aircraft and submarines, but she was never seriously damaged by the enemy.

The Brown has now been rededicated as a memorial museum ship. She honors the memory of the shipyard workers, merchant seamen and Naval Armed Guard who built, sailed and defended the Liberty Fleet. The S.S. John W. Brown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

1 Comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News

One response to “S.S. JOHN W. BROWN

  1. Steven L Spiegel

    I pass by this ship on my way home from work sometimes and wonder what the story she would tell if she were able. Im sure many a young man was transported on her to never return to our beautiful country again. I see people ride past her and not even give her a glance but not I. I have all the respect in the world for every man or women who has ever steped foot on her in the line of Duty. I am 47 years old and have alway admired the soldiers of ww2. As a child hearing the Storys of War from uncles that have long passed that i miss very much. Everytime i hold a door open for a older person that i see were veterans i wonder if i would have had the courage to jump off the landing crafts head first into machine gun fighters who were perched and waiting for you to arrive. To see your fellow soilders fall right in front of you and having to have the courage to step over there body to get past them to gain just one more inch of the beach head. To you follows i take my hat off and salute you and i no everyday since you have been back you have thought of the people that didnt get to come back with you. I just want you fellows to no that while some dont even think of you all and what you have done for us that there are some people who are still grateful for what you have done for our country. I send this letter in all the greatest respect. Thank You !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Steven L Spiegel

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