The San Salvador being moved on a barge to a shipyard in Chula Vista for its launch. Photo by Jerry Soto/Maritime Museum of San Diego

The president and CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego will receive one of Spain’s highest awards this spring for spearheading a project that created a replica of the galleon San Salvador, the museum announced Wednesday.

Ray Ashley will receive the Cruz de Oficial de la Orden de Isabel la Catolica at an event at the museum, likely in May.

Last year, volunteers connected with the museum completed and launched the replica of the ship. Explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed the original San Salvador into San Diego Bay in 1542.

Ray Ashley

“Twenty years ago, as a newcomer to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Ray approached me with a plan to build a replica of Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador,” said University of San Diego professor Iris Engstrand. “I replied that there were no plans, no notes by Cabrillo, only a vague knowledge of where it was built, and no idea how exactly it was done.”

She said Ashley, who teaches at USD and UC San Diego, responded that they’d figure it out.

“And he did, along with assembling a group of experts who knew about 16th century shipbuilding,” said Engstrand, who has also received the Spanish award.

“Ray directed the project from start to finish, raised the funds, overcame setbacks, and watched its launching after a pouring rain,” she said. “Cabrillo would have been proud.”

The award has gone to both Spanish citizens and foreign nationals for “exceptional services” to Spain’s history, museum officials said.

–City News Service

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