San Francisco Firefighters Save WWII Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien

Image courtesy San Francisco Fire Department

Published May 24, 2020 2:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

Early on Saturday morning, the San Francisco Fire Department saved the famous WWII-era Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien from a four-alarm fire adjacent to her berth. 

At about 0415 hours on Saturday, the Caito Fisheries crab processing plant at San Francisco's Pier 45 caught fire. The light and smoke could be seen for miles around the Bay Area, and at one point flames from the massive blaze overtopped the Jeremiah O'Brien, which is moored adjacent to the plant on the northeast side of the pier. SFFD Fireboat 3 arrived on scene and provided water monitor coverage. 

“When firefighters arrived, the flames were literally lapping over the Jeremiah O’Brien,” said SFFD spokesman Jonathan Baxter to local TV media. “They literally saved the O’Brien.”

Image courtesy Port of San Francisco

The fire from afar (U.S. Park Police)

The fire was contained by about 1130 hours. With the efforts of the SFFD, it did not spread to the adjacent warehouses on the pier. 

One firefighter was injured in the incident and is expected to recover. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

"As always, our firefighters are our heroes. Many thanks to our San Francisco Fire Department for their courage and effectiveness in fighting the fire at Pier 45. Our prayers are with them," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) in a statement. 

The vessel's operator, the National Liberty Ship Memorial, posted scenes of the fire's aftermath to its Facebook account (below). 

Dan Whaley, the founder of remote learning technology company Hypothesis, captured the scene from afar and posted his photos to social media (below).