One of my favorite vessels here at the museum has to be the “HMS” Surprise. She is a replica of the mid-eighteenth century British Royal Navy frigate, HMS Rose.
The Rose fought along the coast of France and in the Caribbean in the mid-1700s and was later sent to patrol the New England coast to put an end to the smuggling trade of molasses and rum in Rhode Island. She may have even been the stimulus for the formation of the US Navy, as colonists petitioned Congress to defend against the Rose.
The replica vessel, built in 1970, was originally called the “HMS” Rose, created as part of a fleet of replica ships significant to the American Revolution. She then served as a dockside attraction in Rhode Island, was restored to sailing condition, and became a sailing school vessel from 1991-2000.
Her name was not changed to “HMS” Surprise until 2001 when 20th Century Fox purchased her and she became famous.
She was showcased as “HMS” Surprise in academy award winning film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Later, she was also used in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
With such star quality, I would have to describe the Surprise as a diva. She is also a bit of a control freak, a rule-enforcer, and at times overbearing, though all of her flaws are forgiven once you meet her, and are charmed by her impressive strength and elegance.
Today in San Diego, California her decks host an assortment of events and conceal treasure only the bravest of buccaneers dare to uncover during Pirate Parties. As a full rigged ship, her sails create an adventurous backdrop for weddings and corporate events alike. The Surprise is available for rent and to be explored here at the museum. Hope you can stop by to admire the diva of our fleet.