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America has a rich and proud maritime and naval history. Two great places to learn about America's maritime history are the Maritime Museum of San Diego and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. At these museums, visitors can see the oldest ship still working today, replicas, large models, and many maritime exhibits.

The nation's maritime history traces to its earliest days as a collection of colonies, while its naval history traces to at least the War of 1812. Today the American navy is unrivaled and can be found throughout the world. Today, there are many very impressive navy ship museums all around the country.


Maritime Museum Of San Diego

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is famous around the world for its skill in maintaining, restoring, and operating historic vessels. It boasts one of the world's greatest collections of historic ships. They have been named among the three top maritime museums of the world and have a number of public tours.

  • Star of India: The World's Oldest Active Ship

The museum is open every day from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (the last entry is at 4.00 pm). Visitors can visit most of the historic ships on the ticket.

  • Opening Hours: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm Daily
  • General Admission: $20.00 Per Adult (Aged 18+)

Additionally, there is the option to take the Historic Bay Cruise. These are 45-minute cruises aboard Pilot - a pilot craft launched in 1914. She had an active career as the chief pilot craft of San Diego and assisted thousands of major commercial ships coming in or out of the bay.

  • Historic Bay Cruise: $10 In Addition To The Admission Fee

Related: Why Visiting NYC's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is A Must

The Maritime Museum Of San Diego's Collection Of Old Ships

Explore the Maritime Museum of San Diego's stunning collection of old ships. Note that some ships may be unavailable due to restoration at any given time. They offer a walking ship tour where guests can stroll the upper decks of the historic fleet. See sailing ships, steam-powered ships, and a submarine. Some of their historic ships still take passengers.

One will also see the navy frigate replica HMS Surprise - movie buffs may recognize here from the movie, Master and Commander. Another notable ship is the Californian - the state's official state tall ship.

Sailing Ships:

  • Californian
  • HMS Surprise
  • San Salvador
  • Star of India

Steam Powered:

  • Steam Ferry Berkeley
  • Steam Yacht Medea


  • 555 USS Dolphin

One of their most valuable possessions is the Star of India - she is the world's oldest active ship. The oldest US Navy ship still in service is the venerable USS Constitution, and people can visit her today.

The Star of India was originally a British ship and was built at the Ramsey Shipyard on the Isle of Man. She was built in 1863 and came at a time when iron ships were a sort of experiment transitioning from wood to steel.

  • Original Name: Euterpe

In her time, she suffered a collision, a mutiny, a cyclone, and more. She is a ship with a very interesting and storied history, and she is just waiting to be seen at the maritime museum.

Related: How To Get The Most Out Of A Historical Visit To The Pearl Harbor Museum & Memorial

Los Angeles Maritime Museum

The Los Angeles Maritime Museum is in the old Municipal Ferry Terminal building and is located on the main channel of the Los Angeles Harbor.

The museum opened in 1979 and is now the largest maritime museum on the West Coast. There are plenty of exhibits in the museum, including large ship models like the US Navy cruiser Los Angeles. There is also a large SS Poseidon model from the 1972 disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure. There are various models of merchant ships such as square riggers, sailboats, as well as a fully operational ham radio station.

Visitors learn about the history of commercial diving, the history of the San Pedro fishing industry, and more. See

  • Admission Fee: Free (Suggested Donation $5 Per Adult)
  • Opening Hours: Noon to 5.00 pm (Last Admission 4.30 pm)
  • Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays

They cater to school groups and also offer a virtual tour of the museum for those who can't visit in person.

Both of the maritime museums are worth visiting. Visitors should also check their calendars for special events that they may have on.