Founded in 1948, the Maritime Museum of San Diego serves as the community memory of San Diego’s seafaring experience by collecting, preserving and presenting the cities rich maritime heritage and historic connections with the Pacific World. The Maritime Museum and USS Midway Aircraft Carrier are located on the Embarcadero area of San Diego.
Maritime Museum San Diego
Star of India
Historic ships are the most obvious attraction at the Maritime Museum San Diego and rightly so as there are five outstanding examples of different maritime vessels — Star of India, Berkeley, Californian, Medea and Pilot. Star of India is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds oldest active ship. Named a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a California State Historic Landmark in 1999, Star of India has been awarded both the American and World Ship Trust Maritime Heritage Awards. First launched at Ramsey, Isle of Man as a British full-rigged ship named Euterpe in 1863, Star of India was rigged down to a bark in 1901 when she was used to work the salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Full rigged means that there are square-rigged sails on all three of the masts. A bark is a sailing vessel with three masts, the front and middle masts square-rigged, the rear mast rigged fore-and-aft. Laid up in retirement in Alameda, California while steamships ruled the oceans, Star of India was restored just in time to sail again for the first time in nearly 50 years on the Fourth of July, 1976.
Berkeley is a double-ended steam powered ferryboat that was built in San Francisco and launched in 1898. More elaborate than most ferries of the Victorian Era, she carried railroad passengers and commuters around San Francisco Bay. During the fire that swept San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake Berkeley and other ferries ran 24 hours a day to rescue citizens from the burning city. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990 and a California Historic Landmark in 2000, Berkeley may be “the best preserved 19th century ferryboat in existence.”
Californian is a replica of the 1848 Revenue Cutter, C. W. Lawrence. Built in 1984 at Spanish landing in San Diego, Californian was named the official tall ship ambassador for the State of California and has hosted thousands of school children on seagoing educational programs up and down the West Coast.
The 1904 Steam Yacht Medea was built for William Macalister Hall, a wealthy Scotsman and British Army Officer. In addition to many years of use for social occasions, hunting trips and charter yacht, Medea served the Free French Navy as a gunboat in World War I and a barrage balloon vessel for the Royal Navy and accommodation ship for Norwegian commando officers during World War II. Launched in 1914, Pilot may have had the longest career of any working boat in the western hemisphere. Pilot served as San Diego Bay’s official pilot boat for 82 years and served the military during World War II.
The H.M.S. Surprise
The ship used in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World — was on exhibit at the San Diego Maritime Museum through November 30, 2004. Five permanent exhibitions at the Maritime Museum represent major themes of maritime history and their relation to San Diego — Age of Sail, Age of Steam, Charting the Sea, Harvesting the Ocean and The Navy. The main exhibits and ships store are on the Berkeley. Other Maritime Museums featured on nowrez can be found in New York City and San Francisco.
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Just down the Embarcadero from the Maritime Museum is another floating San Diego museum. The USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum opened in 2004. The Midway is the largest of the five aircraft carrier museums in the U.S. The other four are the Hornet in Alameda, California; the Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas; the Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and the Intrepid in New York. The world’s largest warship when it launched in March 1945, The Midway got its name from the Battle of Midway, the turning point of the Pacific war. The Midway served three combat tours in Vietnam and launched warplanes over Iraq in 1991. This aircraft carrier saw many firsts, including the first jet takeoff from a carrier and the dawn of naval missile warfare when a captured German V-2 rocket was launched from its deck. The Midway was decommissioned in 1992 as the longest-serving carrier in U.S. Navy history.