About the Maritime Museum

About the Maritime Museum of San Diego


The mission of the Maritime Museum of San Diego is to serve as the community memory of our seafaring experience by collecting, preserving, and presenting our rich maritime heritage and historic connections with the Pacific world.


The history of human achievement is defined in large measure by our historical relationship with the sea. Not only has the sea determined the progress and shape of civilization, our understanding of that relationship and our responsibilities for stewardship of the oceans will determine our future. This relationship cannot be understood or defined in purely scientific terms; culture exerts a dominating influence. The role of any maritime museum is translation between human experience of the oceans and our understanding of their nature.

  • To preserve the traditional knowledge, skills, and folk culture of the enterprise of the sea
  • To provide a safe repository for material culture
  • To illustrate how the maritime enterprise has touched and continues to influence our daily lives through innovative and engaging educational programs, exhibits, publications, and cultural events
Maritime Museum Association of San Diego – Board of Directors for 2016


  • Kenneth Andersen – Chairman
  • David O’Brien – Vice Chair
  • Ben Clay – Secretary


  • Dennis Burks
  • Robert Clelland
  • Milford Wayne Donaldson
  • William Dysart
  • Fredrick Frye
  • Michael Garmon
  • Gary Gould
  • Francis Holian
  • Kenneth Houseman
  • Patricia Hsieh
  • Michael Jones
  • Laura Kyle
  • Erich Lathers
  • Charles Mac Vean
  • Garland Mac McQuinn
  • Himanshu Parikh
  • Lowell Potiker
  • John Reid, Jr.
  • Jon Schmid
  • Kenneth Stipanov
  • Charles Wurster

Maritime Museum Association of San Diego – Officers for 2016

  • Raymond Ashley – President/CEO
  • Susan Sirota – Vice President
  • Mike Succetti – CFO
  • Erminia Taranto – Secretary

Founded in 1948, the Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum brings adventure and discovery to life through interactive exhibits, volunteer opportunities, and educational outreach. The Maritime Museum of San Diego has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship the Star of India. The museum, located on the North Embarcadero in downtown San Diego, is open to visitors daily.

Historic Ship Collection

The Maritime Museum of San Diego hosts one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, which represent a unique set of international, national and state narratives. Visitors are invited to step aboard each of the historic ships to explore and discover their rich, living history.

  • B-39 (1967) Soviet attack submarine designed to track US and NATO warships during the Cold War
  • Californian (1984) replica of a mid 19th century revenue cutter
  • H.M.S. Surprise (1970) replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate
  • PCF 816 Swift Boat Mark II patrol craft fast, Vietnam era swiftboat.
  • Pilot (1914): The oldest pilot boat still in service on the west coast
  • San Salvador : A working replical of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo ship
  • Star of India (1863): This iron-hulled beauty is the oldest active ship in the world and a state and national historic landmark
  • Berkeley (1898): The first successful propeller driven steam ferry on the west coast and a state and national historic landmark 
  • Medea (1904): This steam yacht is from the age of conspicuous wealth
  • USS Dolphin (1968) US Navy submarine with the record for the deepest dive


The Maritime Museum of San Diego hosts a number of exhibits on board its
collection of ships to engage visitors and bring the ships’ history to life.

Visiting Exhibits

Permanent Exhibits


As a museum of living history, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is indebted to its many members, docents and volunteers who are actively engaged in bringing adventure and discovery to life for the museum’s many visitors.

Education Programs

The Maritime Museum of San Diego offers a variety of educational programs for school groups K-12, scouting programs and adults. The museum hosts a variety of dockside and at-sea educational programs serving over 15,000 students each year:

Curricular content for all educational programs is aligned with the California State Science and Social Studies framework for grade levels K-12.

Special Events

The ships that comprise the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s collection are both beautiful and versatile. As such they host approximately 160 special private events each year. Past events have included weddings, corporate events, private receptions, meetings and luncheons. Each ship has its own unique persona, as well as history, that can add to events.

Popular Public Events

The museum hosts many events throughout the year to engage visitors and bring history to life. Such past and annual events include:

  • Festival of Sail each Labor Day weekend: A majestic celebration and opportunity to see the full Maritime Museum of San Diego fleet at sail.
  • Chocolate Festival: A family friendly event with vendors focusing on chocolate edibles, fun & crafts for kids (including making their own chocolate pizza), demonstrations and other interesting items for adults.
  • Pirate Buccaneer Birthday Bash: Don your pirate outfit, dust off your eye patch and come on down to the Maritime Museum of San Diego! Pirate caps included for your lil rascals.
  • Sea Chantey Festival: Sailor’s songs come to life with life music recreating popular sea chanteys. Presented in partnership with the San Diego Folk Heritage.
  • Family Sleepovers: Each summer families travel back in time with the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s living history staff and spend a night aboard the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship.
  • For current and upcoming events view our Public Events main page Click here.

Museum Financials


Raymond Ashley, Ph.D.
President and CEO

Dr. Ray Ashley is President/CEO of the San Diego Maritime Museum. Growing up locally, he became director of the San Diego Maritime Museum in 1995. He holds a BA in Anthropology from UCSD, an MA in Maritime History and Museum Studies from East Carolina University, and a PhD in History from Duke University, specializing in the history of science, technology and medicine. He has taught courses in history and archeology at UCSD and USD,  has published papers in American Neptune and a number of other professional journals, and writes a quarterly column for the Maritime Museum’s peer reviewed journal Mains’l Haul.

Dr. Ashley has been sailing for most of his life since spending his senior year in high school on a schooner and has sailed, built, restored, renovated and preserved ships for many years before he came to the Maritime Museum and in the years since.  He is a licensed captain for sail, steam and auxiliary vessels of 200 tons domestic (500 tons international) registry,  is the Star of India’s  navigator and sails as relief captain for the other vessels of the Museum’s active fleet including the State tallship Californian, steam yacht Medea, and Pilot.

Dr. Ashley is a member of many civic and professional organizations and serves or has served on the Boards of the Council of American Maritime Museums, Sea Education Association of Woods Hole, MA, the North American Society for Oceanic History, the Nautical Research Guild editorial board, the American Sail Training Association, Cabrillo Festival, and the San Diego Port Tenants Association, the World Ship Trust, and is President of the American Ship Trust. In 2007, Dr. Ashley was Conference Chair for the Eighth International Maritime Heritage Conference, hosted by the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Dr. Ashley is also a maritime museum specialist consultant for the U.S. National Park Service, Northwest Seaport in Seattle, Genteng International of Singapore, and in 2006 was appointed to First Lady Laura Bush’s Preserve America Summit.

He lives in Chula Vista with his wife Carlynn (with whom he sailed a 25’ boat through the South Pacific). He is a member of San Diego Yacht Club and serves as the club protocol officer.

Susan Sirota
Vice President, Operations

Susan Sirota joined the maritime museum staff in 1998 and has been the director of education since 2001. Her responsibilities include managing a staff of instructors that teach the science and environmental programs, public programs and living history programs for the museum. In addition to her role as education director, Ms. Sirota has taken on a variety of projects such as administering the Elderhostel program, coordinating a submarine exhibit, and project manager for Festival of Sail 2002. Ms. Sirota moved to San Diego after receiving her graduate diploma in planning and design from the University of Melbourne in Australia and a master’s degree in environmental studies. After returning from overseas, she served as an AmeriCorps Watershed community coordinator and developed several community environmental education projects. Ms. Sirota came to the maritime museum staff from the San Diego County outdoor education office in order to develop the Pilot boat program.

Accounting/Human Resources
Gracie Rodriquez
619-234-9153 x 103

Collections and Library
Kevin Sheehan, Ph.D.
Collections Manager
619-234-9153 x 118

Corporate Relations for San Salvador
Gregg Doherty
Director of Corporate Relations for San Salvador
619-234-9153 x 119

Jeff Levenson
Director of Development
619-234-9153 x 141

Education Department/School Programs
Mary Ann Sardina
Assistant Education Director
619-234-9153 x 124

Guided Tours and Volunteer Information
Jeff Loman
Volunteer/Tour Coordinator
619-234-9153 x 135

Erminia Taranto
Membership Coordinator
619-234-9153 x 128

Museum Information
Warren L. Potts
Office Manager/Special Events
619-234-9153 x 101

Museum Store
Imelda Samaniego
Museum Store Manager
619-234-9153 x 125

Public Events/Marketing & Media Relations
Robyn Gallant
Director of Public Events
619-234-9153 x 123

Ships Operations
Jim Davis
Ships Operations
619-234-9153 x116

Special Events/Facility Rental
Warren L. Potts
Events General Manager
619-234-9153 x 102

Website Department
Web Captain Butch Hatchetback

Maritime Museum of San Diego Timeline
1948 Maritime Museum was founded with the Star of India its primary focus
1966 The Star of India is awarded National Historic Landmark status
1971 Butcher Boy joins the Maritime Museum’s fleet
1973 Medea is donated to the Museum
The steam ferryboat Berkeley is purchased by the Maritime Museum
1983 Wings is donated to the Maritime Museum
1990 Steam ferryboat Berkeley awarded National Historic Landmark status
1998 The Star of India is presented the World Ship Trust Award
Pilot joins the Maritime Museum fleet
1999 The Star of India is awarded California State Historic Landmark status
2000 The Berkeley is awarded California State Historic Landmark status
2001 The Star of India is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest active sailing ship
2002 The Californian is donated to the Maritime Museum
2003 The California State Legislature names the Californian the Official Tall Ship of California
2004 The Maritime Museum adds the HMS Surprise to its fleet of historic ships
B-39 joins the Maritime Museum’s fleet
2008 Museum adds two Monterey Fishing Boats to its collection
2009 The USS Dolphin becomes a permanent addition to the Maritime Museum
2011 San Salvador keel is laid
Pilot boat is awarded National Historic Landmark status
2012 Vietnam War era Swift Boat, PCF 218, becomes part of the Maritime Museum
2015 Projected launch of San Salvador (with finish work completed at the Maritime Museum)