S.S. John W. Brown docks in Cam­bridge

Dorchester Star - - FRONT PAGE - By NATE NKUMBU [email protected]­pub.com

CAM­BRIDGE — One of only two World War II lib­erty ships still op­er­at­ing in Amer­ica docked at the port of Cam­bridge near Gov­er­nor’s Hall on Aug. 4 and is stay­ing un­til Satur­day, Aug. 12.

The S.S. John W. Brown ar­rived with a few hun­dred vis­i­tors from its day cruise, orig­i­nat­ing in Bal­ti­more, and will re­main open to the pub­lic the rest of the week from 10 a.m. un­til 4 p.m.

Dur­ing the evening, the Cal­hoon Marine En­gi­neers’ Ben­e­fi­cial As­so­ci­a­tion (MEBA) Train­ing School, will host re-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion classes for marine en­gi­neers from across the East Coast. Its visit will co­in­cide with Res­cue Fire Com­pany’s 39th an­nual Seafood Feast-I-Val, which will be held at Gov­er­nor’s Hall from 1 to 6 p.m. Satur­day, Aug. 11.

Cam­bridge As­so­ciate Di­rec­tor of Eco­nomic and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Bran­don Hes­son said the city host­ing the ship at the Sail­winds Park wharf, which re­cently un­der­went ren­o­va­tion, is a big ac­com­plish­ment.

“The city is sup­posed to have the sec­ond deep­est wharf in the state, so host­ing the John Brown is great for us,” he said.

Hes­son men­tion that hav­ing the John Brown in Cam­bridge brings back mem­o­ries for some in the com­mu­nity of days when the wharf was

home to other boats that brought fish and tourist to the area.

“You would hear about fish­er­men speak­ing dif­fer­ent lan­guages, boaters bring­ing in catch like tuna so bring­ing the wharf back and bring­ing the John Brown to Cam­bridge was a cool thing to do,” Hes­son said.

The S.S. John W. Brown is main­tained and op­er­ated in Bal­ti­more by a corps of vol­un­teers through Project Lib­erty Ship, which pre­serves the ship as an ed­u­ca­tional as­set. The ship was orig­i­nally one of 2,710 Lib­erty ships man­u­fac­tured as part of an emer­gency World War II ship­build­ing pro­gram.

For John Polzer, a re­tiree, vis­it­ing the ship was mat­ter

of per­sonal joy and pride. As a for­mer mem­ber of the Beth­le­hem Steel Com­pany, the steel that was pro­vided to build the ship came from the steel mills that Beth­le­hem made.

“It was over­whelm­ing to hear the num­ber of ships that we put out in that time pe­riod dur­ing the war,” he said. “All of our ship­yard from Bal­ti­more and the west coast and so on. “It was pride be­cause it was a mas­sive ef­fort by all the peo­ple and nat­u­rally it was com­pany pride. I just wish Beth­le­hem was still with us/”

David Sin­glested, a mar­itime lawyer in Cam­bridge, worked on a lib­erty ship as a Mer­chant Marine dur­ing the Viet­nam War. He came to visit to re­mem­ber about the good times that he had while on these ships.

“When I was lit­tle, I sailed on a vic­tory ship,” Sin­glested said. “The ships that were build af­ter World War II were

faster than lib­erty ships. I’m glad that its here, and it came to Cam­bridge and won­der­ful to see the ter­mi­nal be­ing used.

“Hope­fully this ship and oth­ers can make use for com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion in con­junc­tion with the de­vel­op­ment that the city and county want to do for the hos­pi­tal prop­erty and the Sail­winds prop­erty,” he said. “I en­vi­sion a mixed used mar­itime here, and a high school to have vo­ca­tional train­ing so it’s great to see. I’m happy that the city made this pos­si­ble.”

Af­ter its ten­ure as an ac­tive cargo ship, the S.S. John W. Brown served as a mar­itime high school from 1946 to 1983. Now, it also acts as a venue for spe­cial events and wed­dings when it isn’t pro­vid­ing a reg­u­lar slate of ed­u­ca­tional day cruises and do­cent-led tours.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the S.S. John W. Brown or its day cruises, visit www.ssjohn­wbrown.org.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

The S.S. John W. Brown docked at the port of Cam­bridge Tues­day, Aug. 7.

PHOTO BY NATE NKUMBU

In­side of one of the mu­se­ums in the S.S John W. Brown at Sail­winds Park in Cam­bridge.

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