San Diego by water

Out & About

I lived in Houston, Texas, from May 1977 to March 1982.

In addition to the City being the fourth most populous city in the United States, the Port of Houston is the busiest port in the United States in terms of foreign tonnage, second-busiest in the United States in terms of overall tonnage, and thirteenth busiest port in the world.

Unfortunately, trying to get the Port of Houston to watch the ships was an exercise in getting nowhere, and I suspect

The City of San Diego, where I have lived since May 1993, is the eighth most populous city in the United States. The Port of San Diego is, well, about all we can say is that it is the primary port of entry for Honda, Acura, Isuzu, Volkswagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Hino Motors into the United States.

That doesn’t mean the waters of San Diego aren’t busy. Just to the south of the Port of San Diego is the huge 32nd Street Naval Station, the largest base of the United States Navy on the west coast of the United States. Naval Base San Diego, as it is known, is the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, comprising 54 ships and over 120 tenant commands. It encompasses 13 piers covering 977 land acres and 326 water acres. The total on-base population is 20,000 military personnel and 6,000 civilians.

Across the bay is Naval Base Coronado. Under the command of the Naval Base Coronado are seven separate Naval installations encompassing 57,000 acres.

Naval Air Station North Island is the home port of several nuclear aircraft carriers, such as the USS Carl Vinson.

USS Carl Vinson

Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach is known as the Helicopter Capital of the World. From dawn to dusk on weekdays, hundreds of helicopters are flying in the air, practicing various maneuvers that might be critical in a war.

Helicopters at the Naval Outlying Landing Field in Imperial Beach, California

I’m fairly familiar with all the United States ships, and if I’m not Google will help me if I have the ship number.

Occasionally a ship comes into port that gets a lot of attention, especially tall ships at the Festival of Sail (coming up in September):

Tall Ship Parade at San Diego Festival of Sail

Tall ship at the 2012 Festival of Sail, San Diego

Occasionally ships from foreign countries also plow through our waters:

Japanese ships in San Diego

Japanese ships in San Diego

Japanese ships in San Diego

You can catch a cruise ship, sometimes two, at the cruise ship terminal built a few years ago:

San Diego's cruise ship terminal

Sapphire Princess cruise ship in San Diego, California

I think the most excitement is generated when a foreign tall ship comes to town, such as the Esmeralda from Chile (top) and the Sagres from Portugal (bottom):


Sagres ship

The Maritime Museum of San Diego has two tall ships, the Star of India (top), the oldest ship in the world that still sails under its own sails, and the Master & Commander (bottom), built for the movie filmed in and about San Diego and the northern peninsula of Baja California and then donated to the Museum:

Star of India

Master & Commander

If you know where to go, and I do, you can see submarines coming and going at all hours of the day:

Submarine from Cabrillo National Monument

Submarine and tugboat

I’ll be nice and tell you where to go to see submarines: Point Loma. Stop at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and you’ll be right above the submarine base.

San Diego submarine base

Head on out to Cabrillo National Monument and you can catch the submarines coming in or heading out. It’s fine, fine, fine….

Cabrillo National Monument

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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22 thoughts on “San Diego by water

  1. laurie27wsmith

    These are fabulous pics Russel, you have excelled here. Besides the tall ships I love the pic of the ship with the sunset.


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I made a special effort to compose that picture once I found out that the foreign ships in port were Japanese ships.

      I remembered that the Japanese flag of World War II had a “rising sun” on it but the sun kind of set on the Japanese empire at the end of the war. Couple that with the war ships here and the setting sun picture entered my mind.

      I spent an hour at the harbor waiting for the sun to set to get that picture.


      1. laurie27wsmith

        That’s dedication Russel and I value your talent even more. It is an outstanding shot, made all the better by your dedication to your craft.


        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Thank you, dear sir.
          At that time it was difficult for me to hang around for an hour because it was boring. Now I have my little music device that holds hours and hours of music and plays for about eight hours on one charge, so I just put it in my pocket, put my earphones on, and relax while waiting for the right moment.


          1. laurie27wsmith

            You’re always welcome Russel. The only thing wrong with relaxing music is you may end up sleeping through the right moment. 😉


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Sailing on a cruise ship is one of the few things I have never done, probably because I also find them to be overwhelming. Of course, overwhelming things often are expensive, too, putting them out of reach of my budget………..LOL


  2. LAMarcom

    You wrote about Coronado… But you did not mention BUD/s. Naval SpecWar.
    The ‘O’ Shit Course…et cetera
    Why not?
    I would love to see some photos from your perspective, of that “Painful O Course…” of course.

    Oh, and by the way, I apologize for ranting, railing, talking too much last night on your blog.
    I sometimes even miss San Diego. One of the best cities we have claim to.


  3. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I love San Diego and here is some great photography and narrative about the city and the port. I come from Portsmouth in the UK, another Naval town. We might have wandered far and wide with my father but always had a home there. I love the sea and with a busy port you can sit for hours watching every kind of ship and boat pass by. thanks Russel – great piece.



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