SS Jeremiah O’Brien

A Naval Legacy

Liberty ships played a key role in Allied victory during WWII. Cheap and relatively easy to build, the vessels became a symbol of the American war effort, and at the height of production the U.S. churned out three a day. A crew of both Merchant Marines and Navy personnel operated these workhorses as they transported supplies and munitions to US and allied troops around the world. Liberty ships that survived the war were incorporated into the American Merchant fleet, sold to foreign shipping companies, or scrapped. Out of the original 2,710, only two survive, and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of them.

The SS Jeremiah O’Brien sailed out of the dry dock on June 19, 1943, aided in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and made four round-trip voyages across the Atlantic during the war. She served 16 additional months in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean after the armistice, and was subsequently mothballed in Suisun Bay, slightly north of San Francisco, for 33 years. Eventually the efforts of Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson and the National Liberty Ship Memorial saved this magnificent piece of history from being scrapped, and in 1979 an all-volunteer group began restoring the O’Brien to its former maritime glory.

Since then, the O’Brien has continued its fascinating legacy. Every year, she takes several San Francisco Bay cruises, giving the adventurous a taste of WWII naval life, and various youth organizations like the Boy Scouts participate in sleepovers onboard. In 1994, the O’Brien sailed back to Normandy under the command of WWII veterans and a handful of California Maritime Academy cadets for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. It is a tribute to the O’Brien’s strength that she was the only ship present who participated in the invasion itself, so many years earlier.

Anyone interested in WWII, naval history, or non-traditional museum experiences will enjoy exploring the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. Visitors can walk through almost every area of the ship, soaking in the stories contained within the steel walls (some may recognize the engine room from certain scenes in the film Titanic, pointing to the O’Brien’s influence beyond the military).

Located at Pier 45 on Fisherman’s Wharf, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is open daily from 9am to 4pm. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children. Students, and seniors (over 62) get a discount, and children under six as well as active military receive free admission.

More information can be found at, or by calling (415) 544-0100.

View Larger Map