Liberty ship Jeremiah O’Brien set for major preservation work

Written by Nick Blenkey

NATIONAL-LIBERTY-SHIP-MEMORIAL-OBRIEN-microThe landmark World War II Liberty ship,SS Jeremiah O’Brien is soon to undergo one of the most extensive preservation efforts in the last two decades.

Built in 1943, the O’Brien is one of only two remaining fully functional Liberty ships and a premier San Francisco attraction. On January 23, the O’Brien will leave its berth at at historic Pier 45 on Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, and head to Pier 70 for twenty-eight days “on the blocks” for the first stages of her facelift.


“This will be the first time in 20 years that we take her down to the bare metal on the hull and really prime and paint her,” said Captain Patrick Moloney, Port Captain and Master. “Our ship is 68 years old, but when she returns from drydock she’ll look and act like a 20 year old. We are preparing for the O’Brien’s immediate future.”

In 2013, Americas Cup will come to San Francisco, offering new opportunities for the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, including hospitality for spectators and media looking for a unique vantage point from which to observe this historic event.

“We can take spectators out on the water where the race is held,” said Dennis Koller, Executive Director of the O’Brien. “We offer a viewing platform that is mobile, stable, and has height. The perfect place from which to watch the America’s Cup races.”

Of the 2,710 Liberty ships built and launched during WWII, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of only two that still survives. The O’Brien has the distinction of being the last unaltered Liberty ship and takes pride in her historical accuracy. A veteran of D-Day, the O’Brien sailed from San Francisco to the beaches of Normandy in 1994, the 50th anniversary of D-Day.  Of the 6,000 ship armada at the D-Day landings in June of 1944, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien was the only one to make it back 50 years later.

The ship is now a premier San Francisco attraction. A living museum on the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien’s triple expansion steam engines were featured in the blockbuster movie Titanic.  The O’Brien offers six Bay cruises a year, including a special Ghirardelli Chocolate cruise on July 21, as well as providing an unparalleled venue for corporate events, private parties, weddings, and educational overnight adventures for youth groups.

January 12, 2012

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