Early last month, the SS John W. Brown, one of two remaining fully operational WWII Liberty Ships, arrived at the Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, VA where steel workers needed to replace five new plates in the hull the iconic vessel.
The labor-intensive rivet work is such a rare skill in shipbuilding these days that the Colonna’s Shipyard had to fly in a team of experts from Toledo, Ohio. A great article on the work and crew can be found at the Baltimore Sun.
The video below shows some of the riveting work (more video below):
During WWII, the John W. Brown made 13 wartime voyages to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, including duty during the Anzio landings. She was also part of the liberation force of Southern France during Operation Dragoon in August, 1944, for which it is unofficially credited with a kill because it is believed to have carried gunners who shot down one plane during that operation.
Following the war, the ship served as a U.S. Navy supply ship for a short time and later as a training ship for the city of New York from 1946 to 1983. The ship has been homeported in Baltimore since 1988, serving as an operating museum ship under the Project Liberty Ship organization.
With the riveting work complete, the vessel has now been refloated and will return to Baltimore.
Here’s a collection of photos from the work and more videos down below:
In November of 2014, the SS JOHN W BROWN steamed to Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, VA to go on dry dock and have some work done. One of the major projects was the replacement of 5 hull plates. Since the BROWN has a riveted hull, this process is more complicated than it first seems. The existing plates were cut out. The new plates were drilled for rivet placement, and then put up into place. Then the rivet team, which came from Toledo, OH, pounded the new rivets into place. This video follows some of this process, which required almost 1,000 rivets!