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Bravery & Rescue Stories at Morro Bay Maritime Museum

Discover Morro Bay Maritime Museum
Matt Claiborne
Matt Claiborne
April 9, 2021

Morro Bay is a coastal town where residents and visitors alike are drawn to the bay, and the Morro Bay Maritime Museum aims to tell the history of maritime activities in Morro Bay. The museum is home to many fascinating boats, from a 1927 tug to a 1983 USCG Surf Rescue Boat. Discover impressive quality, attention to detail, and be inspired by stories of bravery and rescue.

The Museum Fleet

Tug Boat Alma

The Boat Alma

The Bevilacqua Brothers Genoa Boat Works built the Alma in 1927 in San Francisco. This typical tug boat was traditionally produced using an oak frame and cedar planking. Alma's claim to fame happened during World War II. On December 23, 1941, a Japanese submarine fired on and sank the Union Oil tanker Montebello. The attack occurred about six miles offshore. The Alma rushed out to search for survivors and successfully picked up two lifeboats. Today, you can see this classic and heroic tug on display at the museum.

DSRV Avalon

Built-in 1971, the Avalon is a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle. It was built to aid in the rescue of downed submarine crew members. The advanced design relied on technology and materials used in the space program. The design on the DSRV allowed it to be carried by US Air Force aircraft. It could reach any port in the world within a day and immediately start to render assistance. The Avalon was based at the Naval Air Station on Coronado Island in San Diego. This impressive rescue vehicle was featured in the 1990 film Hunt for Red October. At 49 feet long, it is the most significant vehicle on display and is sure to impress.

USCG Surf Rescue Boat‍

This USCG Surf Rescue Boat was built in 1983 by the Southern California-based Willard Boat Company. This self-bailing, self-righting boat was designed for rescue attempts in inclement weather conditions. The crew would bravely go out to answer calls for help; the USCG Surf Rescue Boat would take care of the crew and the survivors.


The Spindrift was built in 1933 by the Bevilacqua Brothers Genoa Boat Works. She is one of the few classic Monterey-style boats that have survived. This style of boat was inspired by the Mediterranean Felucca boats. Italian immigrants brought the design to California. The Monterey style was popular with local commercial fishers from the 1930s to the 1960s. The Spindrift features traditional boat-building skills with cedar planks over an oak frame.

The Museum‍

Morro Rock view from the museum

In addition to their fantastic collection of vessels, the museum offers other interpretive exhibits about the area's maritime industry and history. It also maintains one of the largest maritime-themed research libraries on the West Coast.

Over the years, the Museum has sponsored visits from tall ships and other vessels to the Morro Bay area. Since the museum's founding in the mid-1990s, they have brought the Hawaiian Chieftain, Lady Washington, and replicas of the La Nina, HMS Endeavour, and San Salvador to the area.

Dive In at the Morro Bay Maritime Museum‍

Visit this interesting museum and discover the intriguing history of maritime activities in Morro Bay. This small museum is the perfect spot to stop and reflect while enjoying all the other Morro Bay activities on your list. You'll be inspired by the bravery of Morro Bay's watermen, who have always willingly gone out to sea in search of discovery or heroically rescuing those who call for help.

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