San Salvador Replica to Be “Launched” Sunday, July 19th

by on July 17, 2015 · 2 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, History, Labor, Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego

San Salvador off MM website

From memo from CEO of MMSD.

Finally, after 4 years of construction, numerous delays, controversies and logistical problems, the San Salvador – actually a replica of the original San Salvador – is being “launched” into San Diego Bay this Sunday, July 19th.The event off Spanish Landing next to Point Loma is not open to the public but is to the media.

Actually the replica of the galleon Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo used when he sailed into San Diego Bay back in 1542, and built mainly by volunteers, is being hoisted onto a barge and floated over to a dockside boat yard and lifted into the water.

San Salvador Oct2014 eric 01

2014. Photo by Eric Gerhardt.

Begun in February 2011 as a joint project of the San Diego Maritime Museum and the City and Port of San Diego, the ship was originally scheduled to be launched in 2013. Then it was scheduled to be launched on April 19th earlier this year but the builders discovered that it weighed 20 tons more than originally estimated and would have needed more cranes to get it in the bay waters off of Spanish Landing. That was ultimately considered too dangerous and logistically confining, and new plans  had to be made.

This was how Raymond Ashley, CEO of the Maritime Museum explained it in a May memo to the media and public:

The ship actually weighed 20 tons more than we had been told. Considering the weight we had added in continuing construction from December, we were now outside the safe limit for the floating crane. We briefly considered a two crane lift but this was considered too dangerous.  A wake, surge, or lack of perfect coordination between the two floating cranes might result in all the load suddenly shifting to just one of the m with a potentially catastrophic result.

But now completion is near, the boatyard is empty, and plans for the ship’s immediate future are much more definite.

According to Mark Montijo, the director of the project, once the San Salvador is on the barge – which will take place between 5 and 7pm, it will be moved to Marine Group Boat Works in South Bay. Then Monday morning, it will be carefully lifted into the water using a giant sling. This is also not a public event that will take place on a private and secure location, Montijo said.

Montijo emphasized that there are two other large media events for the ship. “It’s debut,” he said, “will be it leading the Parade of Ships on September 3rd.”

And then late in the year, there will be a major ceremony for its official commissioning, he added, “with the mayor, people from Sacramento, ….” The King and Queen of Spain had been invited to the original launching, but he wasn’t certain whether any royalty would be present at the commissioning. “Maybe in November,” he said.

Once the ceremonies are over, the ship will rest at the museum where it will be open to the public. And once a year, the ship leave port and used as an educational tool as it goes up and down the coast addressing school kids and museums.

It’s use as an educational tool raises the issue of just which education the ship will be used for. And herein lies the controversy – it’s a replica of a ship, built by slaves and used by colonizing Spaniards whose arrival eventually led to the destruction of the habitat and lifestyles of the native peoples in the area, mainly the Kumeyaa clans.

Critics call the ship part of the legacy of this genocide.

Now, the OB Rag and its sister online publication, the San Diego Free Press, have published numerous articles about the building of the new San Salvador. Many of the articles have  focused on the wonderful volunteers who were responsible for two-thirds of the labor that went into its construction.

Other articles have delved into the controversy surrounding the ship as an image of a colonizing power and symbol of genocide. This writer urged that the ship be used to tell the true story about what happened to the native peoples. At least we have provided a platform for a debate about the San Salvador which seems that nobody else in town is having.

This will all be continued once the ship has been “launched”.




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

obsurfer July 18, 2015 at 2:20 am

will it float?!


judi July 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm

The ship was not launched. The weather was not cooperative.


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