Lady Washington is a ship name that is shared by at least 4 different small wooden merchant sailing vessels during two different time periods. They should not be confused with USS Lady Washington. The original sailed for about 10 years in the 18th century. A somewhat updated modern replica was created in 1989. The replica has appeared in numerous films and television shows, standing in as other real or fictional ships.
Lady Washington (18th century original)
The original Lady Washington, or more commonly, Washington, was a 90-ton sloop. Her early history is still in question. As part of the Columbia Expedition, she left Boston Harbor on October 1, 1787. She sailed around Cape Horn and participated in the Maritime Fur Trade with the coastal Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest and in tea and porcelain across the Pacific in China. She was the first American-flagged vessel to round Cape Horn. She was the first recorded vessel to make landfall on the Oregon coast near Tillamook, Oregon. John Meares claimed that she was the first non-native vessel to circumnavigate Vancouver Island.
Named in honor of Martha Washington, she was captained by Robert Gray, and later by John Kendrick, former captain of her larger sailing partner, the Columbia Rediviva and commander of the expedition. At the end of the first trading season Kendrick ordered Gray to sail Columbia to China while Kendrick took command of Washington. Under the command of Kendrick, she was refitted in Macau as a brigantine.
The Washington became the first American vessel to reach Japan in an unsuccessful attempt to move some unsold pelts. Washington remained in the Pacific trade and eventually foundered in the Philippines in 1797. She was lost at the mouth of the Mestizo River, near Vigan, NW Luzon in July 1797.
Lady Washington (20th century replica)
A ship replica of the Lady Washington was built in Aberdeen, Washington, United States in time for the 1989 Washington State Centennial celebrations. Aberdeen is located on Grays Harbor, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean named for Robert Gray, the man who discovered the harbor as Master of the Columbia.
Named “Washington State’s Tall Ship Ambassador”, as well as the State Ship, the new Lady Washington has already made plenty of her own history. Operated by a professional and volunteer crew under the auspices of the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, she sails up and down the Pacific coast reaching out to sailors and lubbers of all ages through the romance of the sea in the hope that they take a little of her history back with them.
Today she sails regularly in pair with the Hawaiian Chieftain, educating students in the history of merchant trading, life of common sailors, and responsibilities of the ship’s officers.
Film, television, and video game appearances
Recently, Lady Washington has appeared in various films, portraying the HMS Interceptor in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the brig Enterprise, a namesake of the Starship Enterprise, on the holodeck in Star Trek Generations. She also provided the basis for the RLS Legacy in the Disney animated feature Treasure Planet. The ship has also appeared on television, as Captain Hook’s ship on Once Upon a Time.