Sunday, 1 December 2019

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

Along with the USS Pampanito is docked the SS Jeremiah O'brien, one of only two surviving Liberty Ships (out of over 2700 built). Even better, unlike the Pampanito, the JOB is in full working order, and it even sailed to Normandy for the 50th D Day anniversary. The ship is run by enthusiastic volunteers who keep it ship-shape and ready for sea.

The JOB from the rear deck of the USS Pampanito (the entrance into the sub is a modified torpedo loading hatch).

Quite a large ship, I can't recall the displacement.

The deck house and bridge.

Down towards the aft.

Deck cranes and liferaft mounts.

A rather modern radar set.

One of the forward gun tubs (20mm Oerliken)

View back down the deck from the 3" gun platform. You can see it wasn't exactly thronged with people, despite the beautiful weather,

Forward 3" gun. I'm guessing this is the US version of the French 75mm on a naval mount.

Joy of joys, the elevating and traverse mechanisms are operational, so I had a lot of fun tracking ships around the harbour. Sadly the elevation wheels are on one side and the traverse on the other, plus the breech block is missing. It was a nice handy gun to aim though, and I guess it was a dual purpose AA mount as it had a very high vertical elevation.

Alcatraz in the distance.

Forward upper cargo deck.

This has been fitted out for events etc.

And waaay down to the bottom of the lower cargo hold.

The ship has a museum with some great photos of her construction and in action (at Utah beach).

These images commemorate the ship sailing to Normandy (via London) for the 50th D-Day anniversary. A rather blurry Bill Clinton is in the bottom left photo.

There were also a load of interesting models of various types of mass produced ships.

Some cargo, including a beautiful Dodge 1.25 tonner. I've never seen one of these in real life before.

Condor vs B-24.

3", 5" and 20mm ammo. The ships 5" gun used two part ammunition.

US merchant marine medals. A service as overlooked as our own.

There was an amazing diorama of Utah beach done in 1/72nd scale with zillions of plastic models, plus some beautiful scratch built ships.

This is one of the sunken breakwater ships.

I'm not sure I'd fancy being ferried ashore on one of these.

Deck hatches for the lower cargo hold.

This was one of the AA mounts.

The gun was in pretty good condition, although like the 3", non-functional.

The mighty 5" aft deck gun. Like its 3" pal at the front, the breech block was missing.

This is a hefty piece of ordenance.

The traverse also worked on this, albeit with restrictors bolted on. The mechanism shifted the entire gun platform, and was quite hard work to move as I guess the whole thing weighed a few tons.  The elevation mechanism was disabled unfortunately.

Close up of the breech, very elongated to take the two part ammo.

The Golden Gate dimly visible in the distance, wreathed in fog.

Deck raft. It took me a while to figure out what these actually were.

Deck crane. No fancy containers here.

The galley. As this was a working ship, it was pretty well equipped and much bigger than the Pampanitos.

Radio cabin(s). The ship has to have modern equipment to get its sailing licence.

Wheelhouse and engine telegraph.

Signal flag rack, fully stocked.

Lifeboats. The wheel house and gun pits were coated in this strange concrete mixture, as protection against shell splinters (more effective than just steel evidently).

View from the flying bridge. San Francisco Bay Bridge in the distance. I ran from there to the Golden Gate and back again, which was a fair old way but a beautiful run along the sea front. Map My Run said it was 'one of the great urban runs of the world' and indeed it was.

Gun tub on the wheelhouse. The concrete armour is very evident. I assume those are flare launcher tubes on the side.

Navigation room.

Captains cabin.

Lifeboat. These have to operate to modern standards.

Oooh. The engine room. I had free reign to climb around in here, so did my best not to fall into the machinery. It was a large space packed with scary looking bits of metal and vertiginous drops. I can't imagine what it is like in here when it is running.

Steam pipes from the boilers (the ship was oil fired).

Top of the engine.It was a very big engine.

Steam pipe valves.

One of the boilers. The engine room was used to film many of the engine room scenes in the film 'Titanic'. I had lots of fun climbing around in there and it was very atmospheric.

So, another highly recommended US naval adventure, and a very reasonable 20 USD to get in for as long as you like.


  1. Fascinating. You've given us quite a tour of the vessel! I'm impressed by the depiction of the sea in the diorama - quite evocative of continual surging motion.

    1. It was an amazing diorama. I don't know how they'd done the sea effect but it was one of the most realistic I've seen.

  2. This is very cool, thanks for sharing your visit.

    1. Thanks. It was a really interesting ship to go around and as heavily armed as a Corvette, even though it wasn't a warship!

  3. I remember the ship visiting Chatham en route to Normandy in 1994. A neighbour married one of the crew.

    1. Blimey, it must have been in port for a while. There are some photos of it going under Tower Bridge.