Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A Cruise on the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien

During a 2009 visit to San Francisco, I was lucky enough to be in town over the Memorial Day weekend, and was able to take in a cruise on the restored Liberty Ship S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien. Originally built over a period of 56 days in 1943 in Maine, Jeremiah O'Brien spent 33 years in the reserve fleet in Suisan Bay until rescued in 1980 when she was able to steam away from the mothball fleet under her own power (see the Wikipedia article).

S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien alongside in San Francisco.
Jeremiah O'Brien taken a few days earlier on a sunnier day.
Even with the growth of merchant ships in the years since the Second World War, Liberty Ships were not small.
The O'Brien is on the US National Register of Historic Places, and is normally berthed at Pier 45 in San Francisco, just aft of the restored Second World War submarine USS PAMPANITO (which I will probably cover in a separate post at some point).

Museum submarine USS PAMPANITO.
Jeremiah O'Brien makes several cruises under her own steam (yes, STEAM!) each year, so it is well worth checking out her schedule if you plan on being in San Francisco. In my case, I just got lucky that the timing worked out. 

Jeremiah O'Brien alongside at Pier 45. The port-potties were not original equipment.
The crew made sure to bring along some tunes.
Although the O'Brien's triple expansion steam engine still works and is put to use during these cruises, she definitely requires tug assistance to get away from the wharf, and the two tugs (Sagittarian and Taurus) provided an escort during the entire cruise in case the ship ran into trouble. 

Sagittarian taking a line from the stern.
Sagittarian providing escort after casting off the stern line.
After easing the ship out into the stream, the tugs cast off and Jeremiah O'Brien got underway.

O'Brien making a turn away from the city, with the Bay Bridge in the background.
The San Francisco fire boat escorts the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien around the Bay during the Memorial Weekend cruise. The two monitors firing water on either side of the bow are for putting out fires under wharves. Alcatraz is in the background.
The cargo handling masts, booms, and cranes of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.
Though a merchant vessel, Jeremiah O'Brien carried armament that would have left many of the RCN's smaller vessels in envy: a 3" gun at the bow, a 5" gun at the stern, and eight 20mm Oerlikon AA mountings.
Gun tubs and armouring on the port superstructure of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.
One of the purposes of the Memorial Day weekend cruise was to place wreaths in memory of Merchant Navy veterans and others. The ship headed out under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate itself.

With the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and under the watchful eye of Taurus, Jeremiah O'Brien approaches the site of the wreath ceremony. 

A collection of wreaths prior to the ceremony where they were thrown overboard.
I was able to monopolize a location on the port side just aft of where the wreaths were being thrown over the side, and used my flash to fill in the exposures.

A wreath is thrown into the bay from the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.
Two Oakland Police officers form an Honour Guard to throw a wreath into the bay in memory of four fallen officers.
Once the wreaths were all deposited into the Golden Gate, the ship turned around and headed back to Pier 45. Once back at the pier, the line up to visit the engine room subsided, and I headed down to take a look - as a result, I unfortunately wasn't able to see the engine in operation.

The piston rods and crank shaft of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien's triple expansion steam engine.
During the return to the pier, I was able to turn my lens outboard of the ship to catch some of the other sights.

An unusual view of the Golden Gate Bridge during the cruise.

Taurus following along on our way out, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

San Francisco Bay was definitely alive with all sorts of traffic during the Memorial Day Weekend.
There was at least one race going on at the time.
I will finish off with some more photos of the two tugs.

The tug Sagittarian in a bit of chop outside San Francisco harbour.
A freighter heads out to sea in the background of this shot of Sagittarian.
Looking down from the deck of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien to Taurus below. It is a long way down.
There is a full gallery of my photos from this cruise on my Smugmug site, including some not shown here.

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