Engine room

JOHN W BROWN Inaugural Steam School

The John W. Brown hosted its’ first Steam School on May 3-5, 2019.  Organized by the engine department, 14 guests (and now members) were aboard for seminar’s on various aspect of the ship, and its’ machinery plant.  This was followed by hands-on operation of the machinery, lighting off the engineering plant, raising steam, and operating the main engine and deck cargo winches on steam. The guests were provided accommodations and meals by the Stewards’ Department during their stay.

So what is the inside story?


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It all started one workday (isn’t that how every great sea story goes?!?) in October 2018, at lunch in the mess, when crew member Greg was reading a magazine which had a listing of Steam Schools offered by various organizations, most of which were focused on antique farm and industrial equipment.  Greg thought that the ship could do something similar, but he hesitated, because he knew if he presented an idea, he would own it and be charged with moving the idea forward.

After some deliberation Greg went for it anyway and he threw the idea out to fellow engineering department members and conversation ensued.  Everybody jumped on the idea, and started brainstorming how the ship could host a steam school. We have a really big steam engine, don’t we?  He ran the idea by the Chief Engineer, Joe Cadden, who agreed with the concept, and added “let’s put steam on deck.”  Normally we use air on deck and we had not put steam on deck in years.

More lunchtime conversations followed.  How many guests, how long, when, accommodations, what topics, how much classroom time, who would instruct, and other ideas.  Finally, Greg prepared a concept proposal, outlining the proposed Steam School, and the proposal was presented to the Board of Directors by Joe Sargente in October 2018. It was quickly approved, with only one comment- “Why didn’t we think of this earlier?” Now that the concept was created and approved by the Board of Directors, it was time to market the concept.  Was there a market for steam school?

After a few trials, Dick Sterne developed a flyer, and it was approved by our PLS President in early November 2018.  We were anxious to see if we could sell our concept. One engineering team member spilled the flyer onto the internet… and the ship’s phone started ringing…

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When the ticket sales went live in late December 2018, the minimum class size was sold in one weekend.  In three weeks, the class was sold out at 14 guests. We never got a chance to market the school. The ship’s phone continued to ring.  Quickly, a waiting list was developed. Whoa!  It seems we had something here.  There was a market for steam school!

An agenda was developed and volunteers from the engineering department were solicited, roles identified, and roles assigned. Lead instructors, assistant instructors, licensed/credentialed watchstanders, and supporting staff were all needed.  Greg became the self-appointed director (and chief delegator).

The guests would be staying aboard the ship. It quickly became evident that the Steward’s Department was crucial to the success of the Steam School.  Commitment from the Steward’s Department was obtained, and Mike Schneider agreed to be in charge of the guest accommodations.

In the final two weeks, the guest binders were printed and available. Cleaning needed to be done because the members wanted to make sure that a good impression was made. This involved…Cleaning the rooms. Cleaning the heads. Cleaning the engine room.  Cleaning the saloon. More cleaning. Greg made the pitch that the ship was in the hospitality business now.  Much to his amazement, nobody laughed at the idea (at least not openly) and by the time guests arrived, mints had been placed on the guest’s pillows.


On May 3rd our crew members assembled to greet the guests and welcome them aboard. Students were checked in and shown to their room.   Each guest was presented with a binder (with copies of all slides and handouts), a monogramed rag, JWB pen, tee shirt and water bottle.  Lunch was provided and once everybody was settled, the school started at 1300 with introductory remarks, then a discussion of thermodynamics, the steam cycle, auxiliary systems, and finished the day by providing our guests with the opportunity to operated three pieces of machinery in the engineroom on compressed air. After a dinner provided by the Steward’s Department, the evening was completed with a ship’s tour.

Saturday, May 4th was filled with technical sessions all day.  Boilers, and Reciprocating Steam Engine were the topics of conversation and everyone got to light a fire in the boiler.  Discussions on how to stand watch followed. The technical sessions wrapped up with disassembly and overhaul of a valve.


Lightoff came early at 0500 on Sunday, and steam was raised.  Once operating pressure was obtained in the boiler, the auxiliary plant was started up, and the steam cycle was complete.  The guests were split into two groups, one group one deck operating cargo winches on steam, and one group in the engineroom, standing watch with the boilers, main engine and auxiliary plant.  


Two of our guests were crew members/staff from the SS Keewatin, a museum ship located in Port McNicoll, Ontario, Canada.  At the Steam School closeout, hats and pins were presented by Mr. David Blevins of the SS Keewatin, to our instructors, chief engineer, and the school staff.  We were surprised and grateful for the token of appreciation.

Finally, group pictures were taken and goodbyes were said. Participants



Steam School was a success and comments and reviews by participants yielded great comments and some suggestions for future steam school. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook for information on the next steam school which will be held November 8-10th. We are gearing up for our first cruise of the season (tickets for the June cruise can be ordered here until June 1st (promo code PLS2019 for a discount), but after that we will start to promote Steam School #2. Until then, stay safe and keep supporting Project Liberty Ship.














Nothing Else Like It Anywhere

The idea of the Living History Cruise aboard the JOHN W BROWN is to give guests a taste of what it was like for the sailors on board the Liberty ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1944, while raising much needed funds.   It's a way to keep history alive and to educate the public.  These ships carried troops and much needed supplies.  They were dangerous voyages with threats from the air and from the sea.  There are lots of things to do and see while on board.  There are several museums below deck as well as our Ship Store.   There is a self guided tour that takes you through the four levels of the ship. The Manhattan Dolls, The Ultimate Abbott & Costello Show and Calliope provide wonderful period entertainment all over the ship.   And of course, there's the air show.

 

The cruise starts at the Maryland Cruise terminal. When the Captain gives the order, the whistle blows and we're on our way.

The cruise starts at the Maryland Cruise terminal. When the Captain gives the order, the whistle blows and we're on our way.

Guests are welcome on the Flying Bridge and the Captain is happy to answer questions. There is a special silent auction and the winner gets to steer the ship from the Flying Bridge.

Guests are welcome on the Flying Bridge and the Captain is happy to answer questions. There is a special silent auction and the winner gets to steer the ship from the Flying Bridge.

The U.S. Navy Armed Guard  was a service branch of the US Navy during World War II. They were responsible for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships. During each cruise they perform a memorial service that includes a 21 gun salute and a wreath laying ceremony.

The U.S. Navy Armed Guard was a service branch of the US Navy during World War II. They were responsible for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships. During each cruise they perform a memorial service that includes a 21 gun salute and a wreath laying ceremony.

Veterans who are on board are invited to participate in a wreath laying ceremony.

Veterans who are on board are invited to participate in a wreath laying ceremony.

The Manhattan Dolls  sing their way through era favorites. They also take lots of pictures posing with cruise guests.

The Manhattan Dolls sing their way through era favorites. They also take lots of pictures posing with cruise guests.

Guests and crew alike are often swept up in the music and enjoy dancing on deck.

Guests and crew alike are often swept up in the music and enjoy dancing on deck.

The Ultimate Abbott & Costello Tribute Show  is always a crowd favorite. Here they perform the perennial crowd favorite Who's On First.

The Ultimate Abbott & Costello Tribute Show is always a crowd favorite. Here they perform the perennial crowd favorite Who's On First.

Calliope  are a Barbershop Quartet that wander the ship during the cruise thrilling guests with their harmonies.

Calliope are a Barbershop Quartet that wander the ship during the cruise thrilling guests with their harmonies.

There isn't a bad seat in the house for the air show portion of the cruise. The planes fly along both sides of the ship and overhead as well. You can stay in the shade and enjoy the show or take a front row seat on one of the gun decks. Crew members will man the guns to fight an attack by Japanese planes.

There isn't a bad seat in the house for the air show portion of the cruise. The planes fly along both sides of the ship and overhead as well. You can stay in the shade and enjoy the show or take a front row seat on one of the gun decks. Crew members will man the guns to fight an attack by Japanese planes.

Guests shoot the Japanese planes as well but it's not quite as loud.

Guests shoot the Japanese planes as well but it's not quite as loud.

A     1945 TBM      Avenger shows off its torpedo as it comes in to defend the BROWN.

A 1945 TBM Avenger shows off its torpedo as it comes in to defend the BROWN.

Y     ou can just see the wing tip of the Avenger,  She's the Boss , here as it chases the Japanese planes away from the BROWN. Photo Credit: Stephen Chapis.

You can just see the wing tip of the Avenger, She's the Boss, here as it chases the Japanese planes away from the BROWN. Photo Credit: Stephen Chapis.

The air show culminates with a couple of fly overs by  Briefing Time , a North American B-25 "Mitchell" Bomber. There is no mistaking the sound this plane engine makes.

The air show culminates with a couple of fly overs by Briefing Time, a North American B-25 "Mitchell" Bomber. There is no mistaking the sound this plane engine makes.

As the ship heads back into port at the end of the day we are happy to know that our guests have memories that they'll treasure for a long time to come.

As the ship heads back into port at the end of the day we are happy to know that our guests have memories that they'll treasure for a long time to come.

Don't miss the ship....

To buy tickets for the May 9th cruise click HERE.

To buy tickets for the June 13th cruise click HERE.

To buy tickets for the October 3rd cruise click HERE.  

 

 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.

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