HMS Surprise (replica ship)

  (Redirected from Rose (ship))

"HMS" Surprise is a modern tall ship built at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The vessel was built in 1970 as HMS Rose to a Phil Bolger design based on the original 18th-century British Admiralty drawings of HMS Rose, a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship from 1757.

Surprise in 2005 at the Maritime Museum of San Diego
Name: HMS Rose
Owner: HMS Rose Foundation
Builder: Smith and Rhuland Shipyard, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Launched: 1970
Homeport: Black Rock Harbor Bridgeport, Connecticut
Identification: MMSI number: 338167202
Fate: Sold to 20th Century Fox 2001
Name: HMS Surprise
Homeport: San Diego, California
Fate: Sold to Maritime Museum of San Diego in 2007
Status: in active service
Notes: Official Number: 928811
General characteristics
Displacement: 500 long tons (508 t)
  • 179 ft 6 in (54.71 m) sparred length
  • 135 ft 6 in (41.30 m) on deck
  • 114 ft 6 in (34.90 m) w/l
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Height: of Rig 130 ft (40 m)
Draft: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Sail plan: Full rigged ship, sail area 13,000 sq ft (1,200 m2)
Armament: 28 x 9 pound cannons (non-operational)

As HMS RoseEdit

The ship was meant to be a close replica of the original Rose, but still fill a commercial function. John Fitzhugh Millar[1][2] who commissioned the ship build gave Bolger copies of the original British Admiralty drawings, Bolger modified the hull shape below the water line, sharpening up her entry so she sailed to windward better. Unlike some square-riggers, she could sail two points (22-1/2 degrees) on the wind provided that seas remained under four feet or so. Bolger also changed the arrangement of her decks, at the bank's insistence, so that she could be used as a tavern and restaurant, though she was never used as such.[3][4]

Rose was built at the Smith and Rhuland shipyard in Lunenburg, a yard which had established a reputation for large and successful replicas such as HMS Bounty in 1960 and Bluenose II in 1963.

The ship was inspected and certified by the United States Coast Guard. She spent the first ten years of her life in Newport, Rhode Island sailing in Newport Harbor and as a dockside attraction. In 1984, already in serious disrepair, she was purchased by Kaye Williams[5] and brought to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and operated as a sail training vessel in the 1980s and 1990s, run by the HMS Rose Foundation based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States. In her lifetime as Rose, her figurehead had to be replaced twice, each time slightly upgraded. One was damaged in a storm off Bermuda on her way to Norfolk, Virginia in June 1998. The figurehead was named in fun as "Chester" by the crew.[6]

In the summer of 1972, Rose was hired for the film "The Man Without a Country", a made-for-television production. Norman Rosemont Productions couldn't find the money to take the ship out sailing, so all the filming was shot with sails set, as the ship was securely moored to the pier, next to the causeway to Goat Island. During filming Cliff Robertson had to hide that he had a broken leg at the time.[7]

Late in the 1990s, the publisher W. W. Norton & Company rented Rose in New York for a pier-side party to celebrate the publication of Patrick O'Brian's latest novel. O'Brian himself was present, and he casually mentioned to Rose's captain Richard Bailey that if Rose were painted in an 1805 colour scheme she would be a "dead ringer" for the frigate Surprise that appeared in his books. Bailey quickly ordered his crew to get out the paint and make the changes. O'Brian was so impressed that he changed his mind about his prohibition of having any of his books converted into film, and Norton immediately started looking for a Hollywood production company.[8]

Replica HMS Rose off Massachusetts in 1971, the hull painted as her namesake

Transformation into HMS SurpriseEdit

The ship was sold to the 20th Century Fox film studio in March 2001,[9] and underwent extensive modifications to be used in the making of the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, in which she portrayed the Royal Navy frigate HMS Surprise with a story based on several of the books by Patrick O'Brian. The modifications included a reshaped stern, all deck structures removed, the single ship's wheel replaced by a double wheel, period fighting tops fitted, new sails, and the figurehead replaced.[10]

Renaming as HMS SurpriseEdit

After the film was complete, the ship was leased and then purchased by the Maritime Museum of San Diego which has restored her to sailing condition as of September 2007.[11] The ship has officially been re-registered as "HMS Surprise" in honor of her role in the film. She sails several times a year, often with the museum's other tall ships, the schooner Californian and the 1863 barque Star of India.[12] In 2010, she portrayed HMS Providence in the Disney adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.[13]

Related factsEdit

Although she is known by the prefix HMS, meaning Her (or His) Majesty's Ship, she is not, and had never been, commissioned in the Royal Navy.

In 1991, The Connecticut General Assembly passed "An Act Concerning the HMS Rose" in which the ship was commissioned as a vessel of the Connecticut Naval Militia. The act stated that the H.M.S. Rose Foundation was responsible for maintaining the ship, but when the ship was sold to 20th Century Fox, the statute was not repealed and is still in effect.[14]

HMS Rose in 2000 painted to resemble the original Surprise coming into Baltimore


  1. ^ Millar, John F. "Building the Replicas of Revolutionary War Ships Rose and Providence". Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  2. ^ Millar, J. F. "John Fitzhugh Millar". Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  3. ^ Bolger, Philip C. (1982). 30-Odd Boats. International Marine Publishing Company. ISBN 0877421528.
  4. ^ "HMS Rose Sails Soon". Boating (October 1969): 85. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  5. ^ Biebel, Frederick (2008). Path of a Patriot. p. 186. ISBN 0615236650.
  6. ^ Nyden, W. A. "Vacation June 1998". Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  7. ^ Millar, John Fitzhugh. "Building the Replicas of Revolutionary War Ships Rose and Providence". smallstatebighistory. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  8. ^ Millar, John Fitzhugh. "Building the Replicas of Revolutionary War Ships Rose and Providence". smallstatebighistory. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  9. ^ Cummings, Bill. "Goodbye, Rose: Filmmaker Pays $1.5m for Bridgeport Frigate". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  10. ^ Quinlan, Eric (Nov 2003). "Cross Currents". Yachting. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Reviving Surprise"(pdf) David L. Kolthoff, P.E.
  12. ^ SDMM article on Surprise Archived 2005-04-05 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^
  14. ^ CGS 27-5 - Public Act 91-31

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 32°43′15″N 117°10′26″W / 32.72083°N 117.17389°W / 32.72083; -117.17389