As I mentioned in an earlier post, I sailed for a week with the Liberty ship SS JOHN W BROWN from Baltimore to Norfolk, returning just two days ago. In Norfolk we docked immediately behind Norfolk's excellent maritime museum, Nauticus, and near the battleship USS WISCONSIN. Our visit was in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of the opening of Nauticus.
We conducted a short harbor cruise on Thursday, July 9, with about 500 people aboard, then were open for public visits on Friday through Monday. I served as a docent during visiting hours, stationed on the flying bridge where I got a LOT of sun and got a nice tan. I met a few Armed Guard veterans, a few merchant marine veterans, plus children and grandchildren of veterans, and many other visitors. One man who came aboard twice had been third mate on the BROWN in 1944. Many visitors were amazed to find the ship is still operational after nearly 67 years. One woman actually asked if the ship was floating! I don't know what she thought was going on since we were clearly out in the water.
Tuesday morning we left and headed out into the Atlantic. Once offshore we stopped briefly for a burial at sea ceremony. We left behind the remains of ten shipmates or other members of Project Liberty Ship. Among the burials was the wife of one of our crew, the husband of another crew mate, and the father of another, all of whom were aboard for the burial of their loved ones. It was very touching. After a long, mournful blast from her whistle, the BROWN turned north and headed home.
My 15-year-old daughter was along as a member of the crew. She is a member of Sea Scouts and was invited to be a part of the burial ceremony, wearing her dress white Sea Scout uniform. She read a passage from the Bible and later dropped overboard a memorial wreath. She was so eager to be a part of the ceremony, and carried out her tasks with great seriousness and care. I was very proud of her.
(If you're not familiar with Sea Scouts, it's a co-ed division of Boy Scouts and is for older teenagers. Boy Scouts camp, Sea Scouts sail. It's the perfect match for my daughter's interest in the BROWN.)
Later that night, as we steamed up the Chesapeake Bay, my daughter got to steer the ship for an hour, with me watching closely over her shoulder. She steered a better course than I did.
Wednesday morning we docked in Baltimore, another adventure under our collective belts. I enjoy being at sea and enjoy coming home even more.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster