Photos inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.

The stern of HMS Surprise, the beautiful ship used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe.
The stern of HMS Surprise, the beautiful ship used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe.

If you’ve watched the memorable movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might recall the fictional British warship HMS Surprise was center stage for most of the film, which was set during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is now home to the working ship that was used in the filming of Master and Commander. Originally built in 1970 as a replica of the HMS Rose, a British 24-gun frigate from 1757, the ship was purchased by 20th Century Fox in 2001 and modified to appear in scenes in the 2003 film. Because of its starring role in Master and Commander, the ship was subsequently re-registered as HMS Surprise.

The critically acclaimed movie, starring Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin, was based on a series of popular novels written by Patrick O’Brien. Russell Crowe has been lobbying for a sequel for over a decade now. According to what I’ve heard, there’s a possibility the sequel might finally be made.

The museum recently debuted a new exhibit aboard HMS Surprise called Man-of-War, and along with many new signs on the main deck and gun deck, the captain’s great cabin is now open to the public. (You can see other aspects of the new Man-of-War exhibit here. Clicking the link will take you to a past blog post concerning HMS Surprise, where I’ve added updated photographs.)

Several memorable scenes in the movie take place inside the great cabin. Among others, you might recall scenes of officers dining and strategizing as they pursue the French privateer Acheron around Cape Horn to the Galapagos Islands, and of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin playing the violin and cello.

While I’ve been told much of the filming of Master and Commander was done on movie sets, the great cabin visitors see on the working ship HMS Surprise is much like the one portrayed in the movie.

The great cabin of HMS Surprise is now open to the public. Several displays provide interesting information.
The great cabin of HMS Surprise is now open to the public. Several displays provide interesting information.
Sign reads the Great Cabin in the stern of the Surprise was reserved for the captain's use. Here he slept, held council with his officers, and entertained his invited guests.
Sign reads the Great Cabin in the stern of the Surprise was reserved for the captain’s use. Here he slept, held council with his officers, and entertained his invited guests.
Photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise. In real life the space feels cramped and the table is small. The large stern windows are a familiar sight in the movie.
Photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise. In real life the space feels cramped and the table is small. The large stern windows are a familiar sight in the movie.
Unlike most of the crew, the captain enjoyed wine and ate in style.
Unlike most of the crew, the captain enjoyed wine and ate in style.
Historically, guns were deployed in the great cabin during battles at sea. To make room, furniture was removed and placed in a longboat which was then towed behind the ship!
Historically, guns were deployed in the great cabin during battles at sea. To make room for the gunners, the furniture was removed and placed in a longboat which was then towed behind the ship!
Another photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.
Another photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.
Photo on wall recalls a scene in Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey shares a toast with ship's doctor and officers.
Photo on wall recalls a scene in Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey shares a toast with ship’s doctor and officers.
A display in the great cabin concerns prize money and medals. After a victorious battle, captains and crews were rewarded by the British government.
A display in the great cabin concerns prize money and medals. After a victorious battle, captains and crews were rewarded by the British government.
Gun on the starboard side of the great cabin, next to a chest and swords hung at the ready in case the ship was boarded by the enemy, or sailors mutiny.
Gun on the starboard side of the great cabin, next to a chest and swords hung at the ready in case the ship was boarded by the enemy, or sailors mutiny.
A violin on a stand. The favorite musical instrument of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey.
A violin on a stand. The favorite musical instrument of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey.

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Loving bench plaques near Coronado’s City Hall.

Plaque on a bench. In loving memory of Linda Sanford Fleming our Coronado Queen. July 4, 1938 - May 6, 2005. From her devoted family and friends.
Plaque on a bench. In loving memory of Linda Sanford Fleming our Coronado Queen. July 4, 1938 – May 6, 2005. From her devoted family and friends.

During my walk last Saturday I rested for a bit on a bench near Coronado’s City Hall. After looking about the beautiful place, I noticed most of the nearby benches featured memorial plaques. I read a few and was touched by words of love and optimism.

Perhaps you’d enjoy seeing a few of these plaques…

A few beautiful paths near Coronado's City Hall feature benches where one can rest and enjoy the day's sunshine.
A few tranquil paths near Coronado’s City Hall feature benches where one can rest and enjoy the day’s sunshine.
A plaque on another bench. In loving memory - Clarence and Mary Muirhead - 65 year Coronado residents fondly remembered by their family.
A plaque on another bench. In loving memory – Clarence and Mary Muirhead – 65 year Coronado residents fondly remembered by their family.
Bicyclist rides past City of Coronado City Hall, next to San Diego Bay.
Bicyclist rides past City of Coronado City Hall, next to San Diego Bay. Coronado Shores buildings, near the Pacific Ocean, rise in the background.
In memory of June Lenz, founder of Crown Garden Club, whose legacy was to encourage the love of flowers and the beautification of Coronado.
In memory of June Lenz, founder of Crown Garden Club, whose legacy was to encourage the love of flowers and the beautification of Coronado.
In honor of Sue and Bill Williams. Look at the sunny side and make your optimism come true.
In honor of Sue and Bill Williams. Look at the sunny side and make your optimism come true.
More benches by the bay offer a view of boats in the nearby Glorietta Bay Marina.
More benches offer a view of boats in the nearby Glorietta Bay Marina.
In memory of Kathy Griffin, beloved daughter and sister. July 25, 1959 - July 28, 2006. What we have lost Heaven has gained. Love family and friends.
In memory of Kathy Griffin, beloved daughter and sister. July 25, 1959 – July 28, 2006. What we have lost Heaven has gained. Love family and friends.
In loving memory of Lloyd McKinley Harmon. August 1, 1891 - September 16, 1968. Mayor of Coronado in 1952 and 1953 ... and Olive Genevieve Harmon. July 4, 1907 - April 3, 2005.
In loving memory of Lloyd McKinley Harmon. August 1, 1891 – September 16, 1968. Mayor of Coronado in 1952 and 1953 … and Olive Genevieve Harmon. July 4, 1907 – April 3, 2005. Absent but Dear.
A sailboat out on the wide blue water.
A sailboat out on the wide blue water.
Ensign Van Andrew Wilson, U.S. Navy SEAL. September 3, 1982 - January 26, 2006. His training was finished here. He achieved his goal. The greatest mission lies ahead.
Ensign Van Andrew Wilson, U.S. Navy SEAL. September 3, 1982 – January 26, 2006. His training was finished here. He achieved his goal. The greatest mission lies ahead.

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Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque–cleaned!

San Diego's historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque has been cleaned!
San Diego’s historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque has been cleaned!

Look what I spotted recently during a walk along the Embarcadero. The historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque, part of the Greatest Generation Walk near the USS Midway Museum, has been beautifully cleaned. The corrosion is gone!

Whoever is responsible–it looks great!

The fascinating origin of this once mysterious Navy plaque, forged in 1975 on fleet repair ship USS Ajax, was revealed here.

In that blog post you can see a photo of the old corrosion, which has now been removed!

Grand entrance of downtown Army-Navy YMCA.

Front of the 1924 Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego, designed by architects Lincoln Rogers and Frank W. Stevenson.
Front of the 1924 Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego, designed by architects Lincoln Rogers and Frank W. Stevenson.

The grand entrance of the historic Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego is presently shuttered from view. That’s because the structure, built in 1924 for the recreational activities of San Diego’s many enlisted military men, is being converted into an elegant new hotel on Broadway. The Guild San Diego will open in spring 2018 and promises to offer a variety of unique features, including a ballroom inside what was once the old YMCA basketball court.

Before the present construction began, I took some photos of the columns and artwork around the building’s amazing front entrance. These images have been sitting idle in my computer. Here they are for your enjoyment.

When I took this photo, the 500 West Hotel had closed. Today a new luxury hotel, The Guild Hotel, is under construction. Much of the historic building will be preserved.
When I took this photo, the 500 West Hotel had closed. Today a new luxury destination, The Guild Hotel, is under construction. Much of the historic building will be preserved.
Some beautiful sculptural work around the front entrance.
Some beautiful sculptural work around the elegant front entrance.
I believe this represents Cabrillo's ship San Salvador, which entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
I believe this represents Cabrillo’s ship San Salvador, which entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Part of the ornate front entrance to the landmark Army-Navy YMCA building in San Diego.
Part of the very ornate front entrance to the Army-Navy YMCA building in San Diego.

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Military heroes on VFW 2422 Memorial Wall.

The Memorial Wall beside VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California.
The Memorial Wall beside VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California.

You can’t miss it. A proud Memorial Wall. You’ll see it near the front door of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado. Tiles contain the names of heroes who served their country with honor.

Here are some photos.

Tiles on the outdoor Memorial Wall remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Tiles on the outdoor Memorial Wall remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Front of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado.
Front of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado.
Plaque on bench reads Dedicated to All Who Have Served or Are Serving in Support of Our Country's Freedom.
Plaque on nearby bench reads Dedicated to All Who Have Served or Are Serving in Support of Our Country’s Freedom.
Plaque at base of flagpole reads In Honor of the Coronado Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces in World War II.
Plaque at base of flagpole reads In Honor of the Coronado Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces in World War II.
Names on the Memorial Wall include United States Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.
Names on the Memorial Wall include United States Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.
Painted on three small stones are words of Thank You for the service of heroes.
Painted on three small stones are words of Thank You for the service of heroes.

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Help restore a beautiful Navy sailor memorial.

Volunteers and Boy Scouts work to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Volunteers and Boy Scouts work to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.

Your help is needed to help restore a beautiful U.S. Navy sailor memorial in San Diego. I’m speaking of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Some of the 66 oak trees planted to honor the victims of the USS Bennington boiler explosion in 1905 have themselves died. They need to be replaced.

The San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is working to restore and improve the historic oak grove with the help of hardworking Boy Scouts and locally-based U.S. Navy sailors. You can read more about these efforts here.

But money is needed. Donations are sought to purchase new trees. Please contact the San Diego DAR to learn how you can help honor and beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

A dead oak tree that needs to be replaced.
A dead oak tree that needs to be replaced.

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Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of another Boy Scout.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!