Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name

Friendship of Salem leading the Tall Ships Rhode Island 2007 Parade of Sail under the Claiborne Pell Bridge in Newport, RI.
Some years back, 1999 to be precise, I was arranging for the delivery of our furniture, excess clothing and various and sundry other divers articles of householding from the warehouse where they were being stored, to our newly acquired residence. Our property had been shipped from our estate in Germany to the United States upon my retirement from the Air Force and subsequent entry into half-pay status.

As it were.

I had just completed the arrangements at Naval Station Newport and was heading to my car to head home. It was a fine day, not too hot, bright sunshine and a brisk zephyr coming off Narragansett Bay. It was a fine day to be upright on God's fine Earth and to be footloose and fancy free for a few days.

I had already started my post-Air Force career but had been allotted a certain number of days to arrange affairs as we prepared to settle in Little Rhody. (That certain number of days I learned later is what the civilian world calls "vacation." On active duty it is called "leave." I sometimes slip up and refer to non-weekend days away from work by the latter term. Much to the amusement of my civilian colleagues.)

As I lit a cigarette and gazed out upon the sparkling waters of the Bay I saw, upon those waters, coming out from beneath the Newport Pell Bridge a three masted sailing vessel. (I did smoke in those days, and yes Tuna I am still a non-smoker, thank you for asking.)

I went closer to the water's edge and stared in wonder at this fine ship, sailing up the Bay. I had never seen such a sight in all my days. Closer inspection revealed that it had what appeared to be gun ports along the side.

Marveling, I had to get in my automobile and return to the business at hand.

Later, back in our new home town, I noticed that tied up to the pier at the Yacht Museum was the very ship I had seen earlier in the day. I had indeed seen gun ports, not the painted on variety to scare off pirates, but the real thing. Behind which brooded 20 some odd cannon, ten to each broadside.

I later learned that she was a full-size reproduction of an 18th Century ship of the Royal Navy, His Britannic Majesty's frigate HMS Rose.

HMS Rose

HMS Rose was a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship of the Royal Navy, built in Hull, England in 1757. Her activities in suppressing smuggling in the colony of Rhode Island provoked the formation of what became the Continental Navy, precursor of the modern United States Navy. In the Seven Years' War, Rose was in service in the Channel and in the Caribbean. She was briefly considered for service as Captain James Cook's vessel on his first exploration of the Pacific, but was rejected as unable to stow the quantity of provisions required for the planned circumnavigation of the globe. Instead she was sent to the North American station, en route to which she encountered Cook's ultimate choice of vessel, HMS Endeavour on September 12, 1768 when the two ships anchored alongside each other at Funchal in the Madeira Islands. - Wikipedia
I saw the Rose a few more times over the next year or so, then lost all track of her. But I did a little research on her some time down the road.
In 1970 a replica of HMS Rose, designed by Phil Bolger, was built in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia for an estimated $330,000 contract to the West India Packet Company (John Millar). She was initially intended as a "dockside attraction," used for display and later sail training until 2001 when she was purchased by Fox Studios, sailed to Southern California and altered to resemble HMS Surprise for the Peter Weir movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on the books by Patrick O'Brian. The Surprise was also featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the ship of Hector Barbossa, the Providence.

She is currently owned by the San Diego Maritime Museum. The museum's volunteer crew is giving her an extensive refit. She returned to the Maritime Museum in March 2007 to complete preparation for sailing. - Wikipedia
In April of this year I saw my old friend once again, live and in person so to speak, that is, not on the big screen. Now she is the HMS Surprise.

HMS Surprise

She does look a little different these days, hull's a different color, different color stripe along the gun ports and a new name on her stern, but she's still a lovely ship.

To paraphrase the Bard - 

What's in a name? that which we call the Rose

By any other name would look as lovely;

Or as Gomer Pyle might say "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"

I leave you with this, in parting...


  1. I only nag because I care!

    I need to check out the Surprise. I knew she was down on the waterfront, but there are quite a few attractions here in Sandog that I haven't seen and take for granted. I need to play tourist every once in a while. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. I know. :D

      I didn't know she was there until our tour guide (no, seriously, we had a tour guide) on the Reagan pointed her out.

      So I have another reason to go back to Sandy Eggo. Other than the friends I have there, Shakespeare's, Sea World and various and sundry other amusements.

  2. And Roger Daltry is playing the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Oct 25th. All I need is a small lottery win....

    1. We'll keep our fingers crossed on your behalf.

  3. There are few things in this life as elegant and awe-inspiring as a Tall Ship moving through the water under sail. That said, I believe it's better to witness such a spectacle today rather than to serve on one during their heyday. I'm not that fond of the Olde Navy's trinity, which is to say rum or the lash (we won't add the third bit, as this IS a family blog, right?).

    1. Ah yes, Sir Winston's old comment concerning the traditions of the Royal Navy.

      Serving on one of those back in the day was unpleasant to say the least for the enlisted. Wasn't much better for the officers!

  4. This part...

    "HMS Rose was a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship..."

    ... intrigues me. I'm sure "sixth-rate" means something aside from "of a lower quality". Or maybe that's exactly what it means. And perhaps "second-rate" isn't all that bad and I'll hold my temper the next time someone refers to my writing in that way. I'll have to look it up.

    And now I have, and I learned something, so I thank you. It's just a way of grading size and armaments. I'll never be insulted again!

    1. I am always here for your education and edification Suldog. ;-)

      Though if someone referred disparagingly to my size and (ahem) "armament," I might take offense.

  5. Glad she's getting a refit and will sail again!

    1. It was magnificent seeing her under full sail that day. A memory to last a lifetime!

  6. A real beauty, I would have loved to have seen her under sail!!

    1. I do miss seeing her out on the Bay.

      Last night on the way home I saw two old sailing ships tied up at that same Yacht Museum. These were rather small and of a very old design.

      Turns out they were full scale reproductions of the caravels the Pinta ("The Pint", "The Look", or "The Spotted One") and the Santa Clara, nicknamed the Niña (lit. "Girl") after her owner Juan Niño of Moguer. (I did not know that last bit until I saw it on Wikipedia.)

      It's pretty cool living here.


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