They were more than 400 feet long and christened without names on their bows, so enemy forces in the Atlantic and Pacific wouldn’t know what cargo they carried. During World War II, some 16,000 craftsmen in Brunswick, Georgia, turned out 99 of the Liberty Ships, at one point launching four a month to feed the war’s insatiable demand.
Today, a 23-foot Liberty Ship replica stands at Mary Ross Waterfront Park, where the city docks welcome shrimp boats that supply local eateries. Yachtsmen who dock at nearby Brunswick Landing Marina — a former U.S. Navy hurricane hole — not only can check out the scene, but also can get a 10 percent discount at many Brunswick shops downtown.
The only span between open water and the marina is the Sidney Lanier Bridge, whose clearance at center is 185 feet, enough for any motoryacht to get through. (The city built the bridge high, since ships hit its predecessor twice, in 1972 and 1987.) Liberty Ship Park is at the foot of the bridge on its north side, honoring the shipwrights of the World War II era. A boat ramp is there, along with picnic areas that have views of boats cruising the waterfront.
Other marinas in the Golden Isles are on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands; Morningstar has a courtesy car for transients. The fishing fleet offers day trips, and Jekyll Harbor Marina has access to 35 miles of nature and bicycle trails.
As you tour around, think about the defenses that amassed here during the war. By 1943, German U-boats that had been encroaching into domestic waters no longer pestered the coast, realizing the Americans had decided it was worth protecting, for good reason.
Where to Go
The four barrier islands that comprise Georgia’s Golden Isles are St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Sea Island and Jekyll Island. The mainland city of Brunswick is also part of the region. Avenue of the Oaks, lined with towering 160-year-old trees, serves as the dramatic entrance to Sea Island Golf Club. The Ritz Theatre in Brunswick’s Old Town was built in 1899 to host operas. Today, it’s home to all kinds of performances. Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island is a popular site for selfies and weddings. The World War II Home Front Museum is scheduled to open this month at the Historic Coast Guard Station on St. Simons Island. It will tell the story of how this region operated three facilities — a shipyard, an airship base and naval radar training — during the war.