After being held for 11 months as a Prisoner of War by the Germans in World War II, Leo Carlton (my grandpa) rode a Liberty ship home. I stumbled upon the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, the only active Liberty Ship still in its original configuration, while in San Francisco. I had to take a tour of the ship with my kids to help them get a little taste of what their great grandpa may have experienced after being liberated in May 1945.
Here are 4 reasons to tour the SS Jeremiah O’Brien the next time you’re in San Francisco.
SS Jeremiah O’Brien is One-of-a-Kind
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien may be one of only two Liberty ships still in operation, but it’s also the only one that is still in it’s original configuration – which means it remains historically accurate.
Dating back to 1943, when it slid into the water in New England and entered the fray of World War II, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien made seven voyages during the war. It also made several crossings of the English Channel in support of D-Day operations.
As you board the ship, you’ll be able to explore the history of the ship and see how it looked in its original 1940s configuration.
You Can Tour the Liberty Ship at Your Own Pace
Once on board, visitors can wander through the ship at their own pace. If you want to spend more time exploring the guns on the deck and taking aim at San Francisco, you can. If you prefer to venture below deck and see what life was like for the crew in the mess hall, you can do that, too.
The tour of the ship also has things to play on. For example, my daughter was able to pretend she was Rosie the Riveter with her “We can do it!” attitude. My sons were able to pretend they were sailors or admirals. It’s these little exhibits that help make the tour more enjoyable for young kids.
The Engine Room is Featured in a Famous Movie
If you’ve ever seen Titanic, the Hollywood blockbuster from the 1990s, then you’ve seen inside the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. The engine room of the Liberty ship was used as the set of the Titanic’s engine room. Lucky for us, the engine room of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien didn’t suffer the same fate as the Titanic.
You Can Sit in the Gunner’s Seat
One of the most popular parts of the tour for my kids were the large guns on the deck. They enjoyed sitting in them and turning the knobs that would rotate, raise and lower the heavy artillery. While it seemed a little odd to take aim at downtown San Francisco, the guns aren’t loaded.
Address: 45 Pier, Suite 4A, San Francisco, CA 94133
Parking: You’ll find some street parking nearby, but if you’re staying at a hotel, look for public transit options.
Cost: General Admission is $20; Kids (ages 5-12) are $10; Seniors (62+) are $12; Family of 4 (2 adults, two kids) is $45; Children 4 and under are free. US active military are $10.
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Overnight programs are available – more details on the website.
Phone: (415) 544-0100