The schoolship JOHN W. BROWN was truly unique. It was the
only high school in the United States that trained its students on a ship. We
as alumni of the JOHN W. BROWN are part of a history that extends back to 1874
and in all likelihood will never be repeated. The core of the maritime training
we received was aboard the Liberty ship JOHN W. BROWN. She was one of three
ships the New York City public school system used over the years to teach the maritime trades. The
first two were the ST. MARYS and the ferryboat BROOKLYN. The ST. MARYS and the BROOKLYN
have long since disappeared and the BROWN almost met the same fate in 1982.
The time we spent aboard as students developed in us a love
for that old ship, and she has remained in our consciousness throughout most of
our lives. During our time aboard we never considered that one day she would no
longer be around, although she was "on loan." It was said that she
could be put back in service should the need arise. She was never "taken
back" by the Maritime Commission, but in the mid 1980s she did almost
cease to exist. When her schoolship days had ended, the first Project Liberty
Ship organization was formed in New York City to preserve the ship. They were
not successful in finding her a berth in New York and she was sent to the Reserve Fleet with her future in serious doubt. In 1988 Project Liberty Ship
Baltimore was able to rescue her and restore her, and found her a home in
Baltimore, Maryland, near where she was built. Had they not been successful, not
just a Liberty ship would have been lost, but also part of our lives.
The Alumni Association was started because the BROWN is very important to us. We almost lost her
once and we have been given a second chance to be aboard her once again with old
friends. The time we shared aboard her was something we will never forget. Now that our ship has been saved we can help insure that she never succumbs to
the scrapper’s torch.