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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Charity V. Davidson, 09/1996
S.S. John W. Brown
Inventory No.: B-4611
Date Listed: 11/17/1997
Location: 2000 S. Clinton Street (Pier 1), Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: 1942-1947
Architect/Builder: Builder: Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Baltimore, Maryland
Description: The STEAM SHIP JOHN W. BROWN is a World War II general cargo ship with limited troop-carrying capacity built by the U.S. Maritime Commission on the EC2-S-C1 design. This design of ship has a length overall of 441’ 7 ½", extreme breadth of 57’, maximum draft of 27’ 9", gross tonnage of 7,176, net tonnage of 4,380, deadweight of 10,865 tons, and displacement of 14,245 tons. This steel vessel is of the full scantling type with a raked stem, cruiser stern, single screw, and balanced rudder. Major compartmentation consists of five cargo hatches, engine room midships, fore and after peak tanks, three deep tanks, double bottom, and seven watertight bulkheads. Its engine is a direct acting, condensing, three cylinder, triple expansion steam engine with an indicated horsepower of 2,500 at 76RPM consuming 30 tons of Bunker "C" oil daily and producing 11 knots of speed. The general arrangement of decks starting at the tank top includes: lower hold, second deck or ‘tween deck, upper deck or main deck with crew’s accommodations, boat deck with officers’ accommodations, bridge deck, and flying bridge. The after house includes a hospital. Typical wartime crew for Liberties numbered 52 persons with 29 gun crew. Defensive armament on the S.S. JOHN W. BROWN most likely consisted of a 3"-50 caliber gun forward, a 5"-50 gun aft, and 10 20mm AA guns. Except for the postwar removal of the guns, life rafts, and gangways, the present exterior appearance is essentially the same as when the ship attained historical significance. Interior alterations are minor and reversible, as her historic conversion to a limited capacity troop ship actually limited the number of changes that were required when she became a schoolship in 1947. The S.S. JOHN W. BROWN retains a high degree of integrity to the period of significance, 1942-1947. Significance: The S.S. JOHN W. BROWN is significant for its association with the mobilization of equipment and troops during World War II. The Liberty ship played an important role in the war by enabling the critical supply lines to remain open between the United States and the allies in Europe. The S.S. JOHN W. BROWN derives additional significance as an example of the type of vessel that was developed to fulfill the emergency need for a large-capacity cargo ship which could be constructed rapidly. A total of 2,751 Liberty ships were built; the S.S. JOHN W. BROWN is one of only two surviving operational examples in the United States, and the only one on the east coast. The S.S. JOHN W. BROWN retains a high degree of integrity, and has recently benefited from a comprehensive restoration. The period of significance extends from 1942, when the ship was constructed and launched, to 1947, when she was removed from active service and converted to a stationary educational facility for training merchant seamen.
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