There have been many ships, aircraft, and other vehicles that have participated in wars around the world. Some are known for their significant contributions to major battles or valiant accomplishments in supporting the war effort. One of the most famous ships to brave the critical invasion of D-Day in Europe during World War II was the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. But where is the SS Jeremiah O’Brien now?
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien can be found at Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf in the City of San Francisco. The ship serves as a maritime museum to give visitors the opportunity to see the most historically accurate representation of a Liberty-class cargo ship used during World War II.
Visitors to the Bay Area who want to take a tour of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien need to plan their itinerary carefully as the ship has limited hours of operation. Continue reading for more information about the history of the Liberty ships, how to plan your visit and the man who inspired its name.
Where is the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Today?
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is a Liberty-class cargo ship used to transport military supplies around the globe during World War II. It’s most famous for its participation in the armada of over 5,000 Allied ships that were a part of the D-Day invasion in 1944. Today, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien serves as a maritime museum docked on the eastern side of Pier 45 in the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.
Visitors can tour the ship and explore the deck, interior cabins, and engine room. In addition, there are numerous displays and exhibits throughout the ship to teach people about life aboard military merchant ships during World War II.
The ship is only open to visitors on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday each week (from 10 AM to 5 PM) and is also closed on major holidays. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children (4 and under are free). The museum also offers discounts for seniors, veterans, and students.
When visiting the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, be sure to include a visit to the USS Pampanito, a submarine resting at Fishermen’s Wharf. This vessel also played an essential role in World War II history.
What is a Liberty Ship?
During World War II, there was significant demand for transporting weapons, vehicles, and supplies to troops all over the globe. This need for transport led to the creation of the Liberty-class cargo ship. Since these ships were inexpensive and quick to construct, they were the perfect solution.
Between the years of 1941 and 1945, the United States built 2,710 of these ships at 18 different shipyards. The mass production of Liberty ships made them the most produced vessel using a single design.
These ships measure 441 feet in length and have a displacement of over 14,000 tons. Liberty ships carried between 40-60 merchant sailors as well as 20-40 naval personnel to operate the onboard weapon and communication systems. In addition, the ships could transport up to 10,856 tons of supplies at a time.
Did Liberty Ships Have Guns?
While the intention of a Liberty ship wasn’t to actively be used during battle, they were equipped with guns to protect them in the event of an attack.
The most common types of attacks on cargo ships were from above (aircraft) and below (submarines). For this reason, Liberty ships were equipped with a stern-mounted 102mm gun to use against surfaced submarines and a variety of anti-aircraft guns.
Bay Area Answers Fun Fact: The engines aboard Liberty ships are similar to those found aboard the infamous Titanic that sunk in 1911. For this reason, some of the engine room scenes from the movie were filmed on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.
How Many Liberty Ships are Left
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of three remaining Liberty ships left (of 2,710 originally built and used during World War II). The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is the only one to be kept in its original, historical condition.
The SS John W. Brown has been modified over the years to be used as a high school in New York City from 1946 to 1982. In 1988 the SS John W. Brown began its transformation to a maritime museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
The last SS Hellas Liberty was donated to Greece and was converted to a museum ship, and is on display at Port of Piraeus in Athens.
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Does the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Ever Sail? Is it Seaworthy?
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is the last remaining Liberty ship that is certified by the US Coast Guard as seaworthy. In 1994, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien sailed from San Francisco to England and France for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. It was the only ship from the original fleet to participate in the anniversary event.
The ship does occasionally leave the dock to give people a special tour around San Francisco Bay. Check out the event calendar to find out when the ship is scheduled to sail each year.
The ticket prices for a ride aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien are a little pricy, but it’s an opportunity to have an experience of a lifetime. An adult ticket for the bay cruise will cost $150 for adults and $90 for youth.
Where was the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Built? When was it in Service?
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien was built at the New England Shipbuilding Corporation in South Portland, Maine. The shipyard was constructed in 1941 to help meet the demand for ships created by the war. The shipyard built 30 Ocean-class cargo ships for the United Kingdom.
The remaining 236 ships were all Liberty-class ships for the US Navy. The SS Jeremiah O’Brien was officially launched on June 19, 1943, after 56 days of construction. The New England Shipbuilding Corporation closed when the US Military contract expired at the end of the war.
After running supplies across the Atlantic Ocean four times, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien was assigned to support Operation Neptune (the naval phase of Operation Overlord) in the D-Day invasion of Europe.
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien made 11 round-trip crossings of the English Channel during the operation, transporting much-needed supplies to Allied troops. Over 5,000 vessels participated in the invasion. Today, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of only a few that remain.
After the D-Day invasion, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien was sent to support operations in the Pacific Theater. Over the course of 16 months, the ship made its way to various ports in Chile, Peru, New Guinea, India, China, the Philippines, and Australia.
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien was awarded a battle star for her involvement in the D-day operation. However, it wasn’t presented its battle star until the 50th anniversary of the famous invasion.
After the war, many ships were decommissioned or put on hold in the event that that war erupted again. For example, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien was sent to Suisun Bay near San Francisco, where it sat unused for 33 years.
During the 1970s, there was an interest in restoring a Liberty ship to use as a museum. Unlike other ships, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien had not been modified for other uses making it the perfect candidate for a historically accurate representation of a Liberty ship.
In 1979, the ship was acquired by the National Liberty Ship Memorial (NLSM) to begin restoration efforts. The restoration took thousands of hours with a volunteer crew.
Who was the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Named After?
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien was named after a famous ship captain from the American Revolutionary War. Jeremiah O’Brien came to fame when he captured a British ship, the HMS Margaretta, during the Battle of Machias, the first naval battle fought during the war. Jeremiah O’Brien was also given the responsibility of leading the first attack on Nova Scotia in 1775.
There was a total of six ships named in Jeremiah O’Brien’s honor. Unfortunately, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is the last one that remains. The others were either decommissioned, used as targets during military exercises, or destroyed in battle.
SS Jeremiah O’Brien – A Piece of America’s History
The great thing about the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is that it is easily accessible for tourists. Since most people make their way to visit Fisherman’s Wharf anyway, visitors don’t have to go out of their way to make a visit to the ship. So if you are into World War II or maritime history, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is the perfect stop along the way.