One of only a couple of World War II Liberty Ships left is scheduled to be in New York this weekend. There were around 2,700 of the vessels constructed during the war to carry war supplies to battlefields across the globe.
The war ship looks like any other, but S.S. John W. Brown is both floating and living history, and it is one of only two Liberty Ships left in the world.
John W. Brown is in NYC for a weekend cruise — a cruise that is often the last chance for aging veterans to see the type of ship they left home on more than 70 years ago.
What made these ships remarkable is that each one was built in an average of just 42 days, using American manufacturing expertise. Everything was simplified, standardized and assembled by sections.
“The ship would slide down and the tugboats would take it away to be finished. And before the tugboats disappeared around the bend, they’d be starting to build the next ship already,” Captain Richard Bauman said.
Some of the Liberty Ships carried troops — as many as 500. But nobody would mistake it for a cruise ship. Bunks were stacked five-high and that setup would be the troops’ home for weeks as they traveled to their destinations around the world.
The Brown also served as a New York high school for maritime studies.
Visitors this weekend will see it in its wartime look, a glimpse of history for those learning about the past and relived memories for the elderly sailors and soldiers who used to call ships like it home.
The Brown departs on its 8-hour cruise Sunday morning at 8 a.m. It’s docked at Pier 36 at 299 South Street.