ASME-Landmark:SS Jeremiah O'Brien


The SS Jeremiah O'Brien, an emergency cargo vessel of the type EC2-S-C1 (better known as Liberty Ships), is one of two operative survivors of 2,751 ships produced by 18 U.S. shipyards between March 1941 and November 1945, the largest fleet of single class ever built. The design stressed minimum cost, rapidity of construction, and simplicity of operation, and the O'Brien's original design and configuration have not been altered.

Dire necessity to move supplies across the Atlantic faster than Nazi U-boats could sink them led the U.S. Navy to adopt plans for the mass production of tramp steamers (from Joseph L. Thompson & Sons of Sunderland, England). They carried foodstuffs, seeds, coal, locomotives, aircraft, motor vehicles, troops, and anything and everything else to where it was needed, prompting a San Francisco radio announcer who served on one at Normandy to call them the shopping baskets of World War II. Although they traveled at only 11 knots maximum and were therefore easy prey for enemy ships, fewer than 200 Liberties were lost during the war due to their resilient design.

The O'Brien was built in fifty-six days at South Portland, Maine, by the New England Shipbuilding Corporation. A triple-expansion engine of 2,500 horsepower drove the 441-foot vessel, carrying 9,000 tons of cargo at 11 knots. Water-tube oil-fired boilers replaced coal-burning Scotch boilers of the original design. The ship carried ammunition, grain, and other dry cargo from the United States to Great Britain and ports in South America, Australia, India, and the Philippines. See ASME website for more information