Saturday, April 26 , 2008

AWON visit to a Liberty Ship

Dianne and John Baczynski, with Norma and Richard Hamilton, took a three hour cruise around San Francisco Bay on the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brian.  This WWII Liberty Ship is the last surviving, fully functional and most historical ship of this kind.  It is docked at Pier 45, Fishermans' Wharf in San Francisco.  The ship is maintained and run by an all volunteer force.  In 1994, she sailed to Normandy for the 50th celebration of D-Day.

The Hamiltons and Baczynskis met at the ship, enjoyed the sail around the bay to Alameda where they saw the Hornet which is berthed there and also open for tours.  After the tour, they had a seafood lunch at a restaurant on the wharf and enjoyed eating outside and people watching.

Dianne Baczynski with the Liberty Ship in the background.

The Hornet

Richard and Norma Hamilton and Dianne and John Baczynski
on board the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brian

"Liberty ship" was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for "Emergency" construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. Liberty ships were nicknamed "ugly ducklings" by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The first of the 2,751 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry, launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass produced design. The 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty ship, the SS Robert E. Peary was built in four and a half days. A Liberty cost under $2,000,000.

The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Her 5 holds could carry more than 9,000 tons of cargo, plus airplanes, tanks, and locomotives lashed to its deck. A Liberty could carry 2,840 jeeps, 440 tanks, or 230 million rounds of rifle ammunition.

Liberty ships were named after prominent (deceased) Americans, starting with Patrick Henry and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 18  were named for outstanding African-Americans. Click Here!

Any group which raised $2 million dollars in War Bonds could suggest a name for a Liberty ship, thus, one is named for the founder of the 4-H movement in Kansas, the first Ukrainian immigrant to America, an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Union, and the woman who suggested the poppy as a symbol of American soldiers who died in World War I. The Francis J. O'Gara was named after a mariner who was presumed dead, but who in fact, was a Prisoner of War. He was the only person to visit a Liberty ship named in his honor.

Libertys carried a crew of about 44 and 12 to 25 Naval Armed Guards. Some were armed with • One 3 inch bow gun • One 4 or 5 inch stern gun • Two 37 mm bow guns • Six 20 mm machine guns.

About 200 Libertys were lost to torpedoes, mines, explosions, kamikazes, etc. during WWII. Two Liberty ships, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien in San Francisco and the SS John W. Brown in Baltimore, survive as "museum ships" open to the public for tours and occasional cruises.

For more on Liberty Ships – Click Here!

Text and photos are thanks to Dianne and John Baczynski.