World War II began when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. The United States quickly realized it needed to increase its production of ships and other maritime vessels. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, an American naval base in Hawaii. The following day, American declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II. In response, Germany began attacking and sinking American ships. The United States needed to quickly build ships to replace its supplies and move troops and supplies.
Designed to carry supplies to European allies, the Steam Ship (SS) John W. Brown was built to aid the American war effort. This vessel is one of only two surviving operational Liberty ships. While these vessels were slow and small, they helped keep critical supply lines open between the United States and allies in Europe.
Built in Baltimore in 1942, the SS John W. Brown sailed to New York to pick up supplies. From there, the ship headed to the Middle East to bring aid to allied Russian troops. In 1943, the ship was converted to carry troops as well as cargo. The SS John W. Brown also transported Italian and German prisoners of war (POWs). At the end of the war, the vessel carried American troops from Europe back to the United States.
The ship was decommissioned in 1947 and used for educational purposes to train merchant sailors. By 1982, the ship was no longer used for training and it was later moved to Baltimore in 1988. Now a National Historic Landmark, the SS John W. Brown is used for living history cruises.
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