Some changes are in place at the Port of San Diego's Spanish Landing Park, in preparation for a historic construction project that is about to get underway.
The San Diego Maritime Museum will use the location to construct a replica of the San Salvador, a 16th century Spanish galleon. This is the ship that explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was on when he sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542.
Construction of the San Salvador is anticipated to take approximately 18 months, with the full project (from setup to site restoration), taking up to 24 months total.
Temporary fences have been constructed around the westernmost parking lot of Spanish Landing Park, south of North Harbor Drive. The fencing will separate the project from the adjacent public promenade. The promenade will remain open and accessible to the public.
"The vessel – which is part of the museum's plan to expand its collections and programmatic capacity – will be constructed at a prominent waterfront site, giving viewers the opportunity to watch from a close perspective as an example of the first modern industrial activity in the Americas comes to life before their eyes," said Mark Montijo, Vice President of the Maritime Museum.
"We are excited to have a vital part of San Diego's history come to life along our beautiful waterfront," said Robert "Dukie" Valderrama, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. "We are proud to be a partner in a project that the public can experience from start to finish."
Museum officials say construction on a workshop floor should begin next week. Ship assembly materials and equipment should begin arriving next month. The keel is anticipated to be laid in February, and the site should open for public visitation around late April.
During construction, museum officials plan to have multiple exhibits explaining traditional shipbuilding practices and the historic context of the Cabrillo voyage.
Once complete, the replica galleon will be launched from the site by a floating crane lifting the vessel from the shore and placing it into the water. After launching, the site will be restored to its pre-construction condition.
The Port of San Diego is not contributing any funds to the project, but has jurisdiction over the park area where the construction will take place.
The Maritime Museum is a partner and tenant of the Port of San Diego.