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San Diego Maritime Museum

1306 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California

Phone: 619-234-9153 --

Statement of Purpose:

The San Diego Maritime Museum was founded in 1948 to perpetuate the glories of maritime history. The Museum grew out of the acquisition of the sailing ship Star of India by a group of local historians in 1928. Chief among them was author Jerry Macmullen, who kept the dream of restoring the Star of India alive for 50 years. With the sailing of the old bark off San Diego in 1976, he saw his dream fulfilled.

Along with the Star of India, the Museum preserves and interprets the steam vessels Berkeley and Medea. The engines of both vessels are operational, Medea's with steam and Berkeley's with electro-hydraulic power. The Medea steams around San Diego Bay, while the Star of India sails off our coast every few years. The Berkeley stays in place and serves as the "headquarters vessel" of the Museum fleet, housing workshops, offices and a maritime library.

Highlights & Collections:

Exhibits & Special Events:


1904 Steam Yacht

The Medea was built for William Macalister Hall of Torrisdale Castle, Scotland, by Stephen of Linthouse. August 29, 1904, saw her completed and launched with steam in the boiler after a record building time of 51 working days. Built of steel, decked and housed with imported teak and finished off inside with quarter-sawn English oak, the whole effect was by all accounts very pleasing. Medea was named for a figure of Greek legend.

Her 254 horsepower compound reciprocating engine will propel her at 10 knots, but her economical cruising speed is 8 1/2 knots. Built with a coal-fired boiler, she was converted to oil in 1964.

Macalister Hall, a wealthy landowner and British Army officer, used Medea mainly for social occasions and hunting trips around the isles and lochs of western Scotland. By the start of World War I, she was in the hands of the man who built her, John Stephen. Later during the war, she was purchesed by the French Navy and converted into a gunboat named Corneille. Armed with a 75mm gun, depth charges and an observation balloon, she operated as a convoy escort for French sailing ships. After the war, back under British colors and resuming her old name, she was owned by two members of Parliament and several yachtsmen. Based at Gibraltar, she cruised the Mediterranean Sea.

Early in World War II, Medea joined the Royal Navy as a barrage balloon vessel at the mouth of the River Thames. Later she went back to Scotland and was used by the Norwegian Navy, based there, as an accomodation ship for Norwegian commando officers.

The year 1946 saw her back in private British hands, cruising off Cornwall and the Isle of Wright. During the 1950's and 1960's Medea operated as a charter yacht, and at last was sold to a Swedish owner in 1969.

In 1971, she was purchased by Paul Whittier, a wealthy American, who subsequently restored Medea and donated her to the San Diego Maritime Museum. She arrived here on July 14, 1973, and San Diego has been her home ever since. LENGTH OVERALL: 140' BEAM: 17' MAXIMUM DRAFT: 10' ENGINE: STEAM, 2 CYLINDER COMPOUND GROSS TONNAGE: 112


1863 Sailing Ship

The Star of India began her life as the British full-rigged ship Euterpe, named for the ancient Greek muse of music. She was launched at Ramsey, Isle of Man, on November 14, 1863, as one of the earliest iron-hulled ships to be built.

A merchantman, Euterpe's first six voyages were to India. She got off at an unlucky start, suffering a collision and a mutiny before completing her first voyage in 1864. In 1865, on her second voyage around the Cape of Good Hope, she encountered a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. The crew were obliged to cut away her topmasts and let them go by the board to avoid a knockdown. Later, following repairs at Calcutta, her first captain died on the voyage home and was buried at sea.

In 1871, following her withdrawal from the India jute trade, Euterpe was purchased by the London firm of Shaw Savill (later Shaw, Savill & Albion). Under their flag, Euterpe made 21 trips around the world, mainly hauling emigrants to New Zealand, and wool or other cargo homeward.

In this hard service Euterpe dodged icebergs in the cold Southern Ocean, weathered many storms, and suffered several more collisions. She carried as many as 400 emigrants per trip, most of them tightly packed in steerage on her 'tween deck. It was a great relief for all to sight land after upto four months at sea.

From 1898 to 1900, Euterpe was registered as a Hawaiian vessel. During this period she engaged in the trans-Pacific trade with cargoes of Puget Sound timber, Austrailian coal, and Hawaiian sugar.(You can still see the timber ports cut in her stern.)

Euterpe became an American ship in 1900, and in 1901 she was purchaed by the Alaska Packers of San Francisco. This association rigged her down to a bark, which she remains today. The Parkers renamed her Star of India in 1906, and sent her up to the Bering Sea every spring from 1902 through 1923, to work in the salmon fishery. It was rugged voyaging, with ice packs sometimes freezing the old bark in place.

By 1923, steamships ruled the seas. The Star of India was laid up in retirement at Alameda. In 1926, an ambitious group of San Diegans purchased the ship and brought her here the following year, later to become a maritime museum.

The Star of India became a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and her restoration was finished by 1976, when she sailed off our coast for the first time in nearly 50 years. Since then, she has gone to sea five additional times. The Star of India is the oldest square-rigged ship still sailing: as such, she is a gallant survivor of the Great Age of Sail, and a fitting tribune to the "Iron Men" who took such vessels around the world. LENGTH OVERALL: 278 BEAM: 35' MAXIMUM DRAFT: 21.5' RIG: ORGINALLY SHIP, NOW BARK GROSS TONNAGE: 1197


1898 Ferryboat

The Berkeley was built at the old Union Iron Works in San Francisco and was launched on October 18, 1898, in the presence of 2,000 invited guests. She was soon tested at 12 1/2 knots and, steaming for the Southern Pacific Railroad, quickly became the first successful propeller-driven ferry on the West Coast. Her primary service route for 60 years was between San Francisco and Oakland, with occasional substitution for other ferries on the Sausalito run.

This vessel was fairly typical in appearance for a ferry of the late Victorian Era, but she was more elaborate than most. Today you can still see much of her original lavish woodwork, as well as her beautiful stained glass clerestory in the upper deck passenger cabin. While in service shuttling railroad passengers and commuters around San Francisco Bay, she boasted a restaurant below her main deck. The upper deck was called the "Ladies Deck" in those very proper days, and the gentlemen had to sit with the baggage carts on the main deck.

The Berkeley's most heroic exploit came in April 1906. During the fire that swept San Francisco following the earthquake of April 18, the Berkeley and other ferries ran 24 hours a day to rescue citizens from the burning city. Crammed aboard the Berkeley by the hundreds, these refugees from the wrath of nature were taken safely across the Bay.

With the completion of the East Bay Bridge in 1939, the Berkeley was retained as a "train boat," and was used to carry passengers from San Francisco to the trains at Oakland Pier. This service was terminated in 1958, the Berkeley then being sold to serve as a "trade fair" at Sausalito, where she stayed until acquired by the San Diego Maritime Museum in 1973.

Around 1900, the Berkeley was converted from a coal burner to an oil burner, and in 1918, her orginal Scotch boilers were replaced by water tube boilers. Be sure to visit her engine room and boilers room below the main deck, where you can see her superb triple-expansion steam engine in operation.

The Berkeley has been called "the best preserved 19th century ferryboat in existence." Still a popular vessel with her upper deck rentable for weddings and social occasions, she was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990. LENGTH OVERALL: 261' BEAM: 40' DEPTH: 14' ENGINE: STEAM, TRIPLE EXPANSION GROSS TONNAGE: 1945

Fine exhibits are on display on all three vessels, and the library is open to the public. Maritime Museum memberships are available.


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