The San Diego Maritime Museum is building a real-life replica of a Spanish galleon from the 16th century. The goal is to create a ship similar to the San Salvador, the flagship of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s small fleet, which was the first to brave the waters of North America’s west coast.
During the Keel Laying Ceremony last year, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners, explained: “One of the missions of the port is to activate the waterfront, to give people a chance to come out and enjoy this great real estate that we have here in San Diego. The port’s really happy to host and be a landlord for two of the great waterbourn museums in the world. We have the Midway, which tells the story of the Navy, and we have this great Maritime Museum that tells the story of Maritime here at the West Coast and America.”
Juan Rodriguex Cabrillo sailed into what is now the San Diego port. “It is historically one of the great sea ports in all of history, and keeping with that heritage is very important,” said Maritime Museum Executive Director Ray Ashley. He added that to create the galleon, the designers studied old drawings, contracts and even shipwrecks.
The port has other historical value besides its impact on the region’s economy. It was the first place of contact between Europeans and the native Kumeyaay.
Anthony Pico, tribal chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay, spoke at the event as well. He said: “We all understand that the first meetings throughout this country between your ancestors and mine was a tragic one. But those are times that have gone by, and with this century is a new time. This is a new time for partnerships, it’s a new time to integrate and to learn from one another.”
The building of the Spanish Galleon is a way to celebrate the development of the region and its peoples, as well as to expose the new generation to the areas rich history and educate them about their past.