BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After several years of uncertainty, a piece of Baltimore history has found a familiar home that will keep it in the city for the foreseeable future.
The SS John W. Brown was built in Baltimore in 1942, used by the U.S. Merchant Marine to transport troops and cargo during World War II.
Today, the 440-foot-long, 59-foot-wide vessel serves as a training tool for local law enforcement and maritime academies as well as a floating museum.
“It’s a versatile piece of equipment,” volunteer coordinator Dan Donald said.
Its future had been up in the air for the past three-and-a-half years as its dock lease in Canton neared its end. When they couldn’t find a place to move to, they decided to build one, or at least rebuild one, at the former Bethlehem Steel Fairfield Shipyard.
Now, it seems like it will remain in Baltimore for years to come.
“If you ever want to see a piece of history, come on down,” Donald said.
Fittingly, its new home is at the same shipyard that built the ship some 78 years ago.
“Fairfield actually built the most Liberty ships of any one yard,” Donald said.
The pier rebuild, which is being done in partnership with the Maritime Applied Physics Corporation, will allow the ship to operate more freely, but more importantly: it keeps a piece of American history where it belongs.
“It was built here, it sailed from here and now it’s back here, 70 years old, and we hope to keep it another 70,” Donald said.
The cost of the pier revitalization is expected to be upwards of $18 million, which will come from federal and state funding as well as private and corporate donations.
The project expected to take two years to complete.