BALTIMORE (WMAR) — "We refer to ourselves as Baltimore's best kept secret. We'd rather not be a secret at all," said Captain Alaina Basciano.
Docked off the Patapsco River in Canton sits a floating tribute to the past. A museum, classroom and tribute to World War II veterans and Merchant Marines. Liberty Ships like the S.S. John W. Brown carried cargo and troops during the war.
"There were 2,710 built. They were everywhere. They were in every convoy. They were a crucial part in our country being successful and winning World War II," said Basciano.
Basciano is the master of Project Liberty Ship, the volunteers that keep the boat up and running. She has been a volunteer since she was 10 years old. She said John W. Brown is one of only two Liberty Ships still operating in the world. It's stationed in Baltimore at least for now. Come the end of thee year, their lease in Canton runs out. They have worked out a deal to keep their spot until March but it means starting to pay a daily fee. So the 100% volunteer-run group is hoping to raise enough money to keep the 440-foot ship in Charm City.
"It was born here. It was build here. It was outfitted here as well and it was brought back here for that reason," said Basciano.
It was brought back in 1991in large part because of dedicated volunteer Brian Hope.
"There was quite a bit of interest in Baltimore having the ship here," said Hope.
The mission ever since has been to keep it fully operational.
"That's the best way to demonstrate to the public and historians the importance of Liberty Ships to the maritime industry and WWII," said Hope.
Not only have they succeeded, but it now serves as a meeting place, event venue and educational space.
"Local high school students can come on board and get a basic education in the engineering aspects of the steam plant on board," said Basciano.
While they are still negotiating short-term and long-term plans, they hope with community support they are able to continue the work they are so passionate about.
They are still open for tours 12/21, 12/26, and 12/28 from 9am to 2pm. Call the ship at 410-558-0646 or email email@example.com in advance.