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Spain To Honor Maritime Museum For San Salvador Replica Project

Photo by Katie Schoolov

The reconstruction of the San Salvador sits on a trailer and is waiting to be driven onto a floating barge on Monday, July 21, 2015 at Spanish Landing Park.

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 Thursday.

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.

"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.

Reported by Katie Schoolov

A parade of ships kicked off the 16th annual Festival of Sail this afternoon - and there was a newcomer in the lead. After four years of construction, and significant delays, the San Salvador made its way across San Diego Bay, cheered by large crowds along Harbor Drive - and canon fire. KPBS video journalist Katie Schoolov was there.

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