S.S. John W. Brown docks in Cambridge
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.
The S.S. John W. Brown docked at the port of Cambridge Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Inside of one of the museums in the S.S John W. Brown at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge.