HMS Surprise

After posting a quote from one of Patrick O”Brian’s novels earlier this week, I remembered that I had some more Aubrey-Maturin related material to share.

About 15 months ago I posted some nighttime pictures I had taken on the San Diego waterfront including this one of a sailing ship whose name I did not know. As Mr. Peculiar pointed out in the comments, this was the HMS Surprise, replica ship used in the filming of the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on O’Brian’s novels.

Last September I was in San Diego doing some field work, and was able to take an afternoon off to tour the Maritime Museum of San Diego, a wonderful museum I recommend to you all, and where the HMS Surprise is moored.

The ship began its life as the Rose, built in Canada in 1970. Its design was based on British Admiralty plans used to build the frigate HMS Rose, which was launched in 1757.

Until 2001, the Rose was based on the east coast and used as a training ship for tall ship sailors. That year, it was bought by Twentieh Century Fox studios, who officially changed the name and modified it for use in filming the movie.

After the movie was completed and released in 2003 the Maritime Museum obtained the ship. It sails around San Diego harbor several times a year and you can pay to sail on board and pretend you are Russell Crowe.

If you have seen the movie before touring the ship, you can tell that it must have been used almost exclusively for exterior shots and that scenes set on board ship were shot on a sound stage. It was still fun to see. I also understand it was used to shoot scenes for one of the Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

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