Prior to becoming a historic ship in Baltimore, the Liberty ship JOHN W. BROWN was moored in New York and served the city’s Board of Education as a vocational high school. Students came to the ship and learned the skills needed for a maritime career. The ship filled that role for 35 years, from 1946 to 1982. Now as an operating historic ship in Baltimore, JOHN W. BROWN continues to be an educational resource for a variety of local organizations.
Several different groups conduct training on the BROWN. Local first responders (police, SWAT, EMTs, K-9 teams) train aboard the ship to gain experience working in a realistic shipboard environment which they may encounter in the Baltimore and Annapolis areas. Local maritime schools, operated by two of the major maritime unions, bring students to the ship when the class room training can be enhanced by doing a portion of the course aboard an operational ship. JOHN W. BROWN offers STEM internships to local high school students enrolled in that curriculum. Those students get a close look at some of the science, technology, and engineering found in the engine room of an operating steam ship. Classes from local schools, including the Naval Academy, tour the ship to learn about World War-II merchant marine operations and shipbuilding.
However, one of the most important training programs on the BROWN addresses the needs of our own volunteers. The Liberty ship steam plant is an old design, no longer found operating elsewhere. The only place to train our volunteers to operate the engineering plant is right here on the ship. A formal training course was prepared and approved by the Coast Guard so that we can instruct volunteers to be JOHN W. BROWN firemen/watertenders. These are the watchstanders that operate the ship’s boilers to produce the steam used by the main engine and the auxiliary machinery.
Three volunteers are presently taking the fireman/watertender course. The course includes classroom training, demonstrations of practical knowledge of associated machinery and procedures, homework assignments, and a final exam. Completion of the course, along with having the requisite amount of sea service, enables the volunteer to gain a Coast Guard endorsement in their merchant marine credential as fireman/watertender without having to take a Coast Guard examination. The course was first approved by the Coast Guard in October 2012 and to date 10 volunteers have completed the course.
In addition to being an operational historic ship, JOHN W. BROWN continues her role as a training facility. In this case, by training the firemen/watertenders who will operate the ship’s boilers in the future.
[FWT Course instructor: M. J. Schneider]
[Present students: Jay Jacobs, John Stratman, and Kris Lindberg]
Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.