Robert O’Brien was born in Liverpool, England on 13 October 1893 and baptised in St Alphonsus Church on 24 October. He was the son of James O’Brien, a mariner, and Elizabeth McAlhiney.
One of nine children, by 1911 the O’Brien family lived at 106 Athol Street in Liverpool. It was that same year that Robert first appears on crew manifests when he was showing serving on numerous voyages as a trimmer aboard Carmania.
In April 1912 O’Brien was serving as a trimmer aboard the eastward-bound voyage of the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic.
Robert O’Brien continued working at sea after the Titanic disaster, serving with the merchant fleet during WWI. In 1939 he married Fanny Blackwell (b. 1896) but had no children. He settled in her birthplace, Bristol.
Called again for service with the merchant fleet during WWII, Robert O’Brien served as a refrigerating greaser aboard SS Empire Geraint; whilst ashore in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 17 June 1943 he was struck and killed by a railway truck, his death record indicating that his body was “destroyed.”