Imagine being aboard a U.S. Navy ship that served in World War II, carrying American forces to conduct amphibious landings on distant shores.
Sea Scouts from Sea Scout Ship 1935, based in Quantico, got to do just that last month, while supporting the restoration of the SS John W. Brown Liberty Ship (circa 1942). It is the oldest remaining Liberty Ship in the world.
SS John W. Brown was built in—and now is homeported in—Baltimore. Now a museum and maritime education center, it is the only remaining troop transport from WWII and the last to have landed troops ashore as part of an amphibious landing during WWII.
Today, the restored ship is operational and takes passengers on living history cruises on the Chesapeake Bay.
Part of Sea Scout Ship 1935’s mission is to perform community service. Sea Scouts also have a keen interest in understanding and preserving maritime history. The Scouts reached out to the Project Liberty Ship organization and asked how they could serve. So, for its service project, the group was tasked with building lifeboat frames to support the vessel’s lifeboat covers.
The Scouts spent a recent afternoon touring the ship. They learned what it took to keep it operational as it carried soldiers to Europe during WWII. In the four-story engine room, they saw giant pistons that rotate the crankshaft that propels the ship. They also learned about the inner workings of the boiler room and the electrical station that provides lighting throughout the ship.
Fires at sea can be catastrophic for a ship, crew and passengers. The Scouts learned how to respond to a fire drill at sea, including a demonstration of the firefighting equipment that would have been used to battle a blaze on a ship. Out on deck, the Scouts manned the 3- and 5-inch guns, imagining what it was like to defend the nation’s shores.