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A Leading Lady (Washington)

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Arts, Culture & Media

What does Star Trek have to do with the state of Washington? The two subjects are about as far apart as you can imagine, right? That may be true unless you’re a Hollywood script writer trying to transition from an opening scene crisis (starring Capt. James T. Kirk and some of the original  Star Trek cast) to a creative introduction of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Enter Washington!

“There’s always been this analogy to the seafaring tradition in Star Trek,” said one of the writers on the Star Trek Generations DVD commentary. “Why don’t we put them on a ship finally?”

That ship was the Lady Washington, a replica of the brig that once sailed the Washington coast under Capt. Robert Gray, the man who discovered the Columbia River in 1792. The tall ship replica was built in Aberdeen for the Washington centennial in 1989, and she is — officiallythe state ship of Washington. In 1994, the Lady had her six minute, eleven second debut on the silver screen.

The scene, about 18 minutes into the movie, gathers the officers of the Enterprise on the ship’s deck to ceremoniously promote Lt. Worf to the rank of lieutenant commander.  In the story the crew is using the ship’s holodeck.  In reality, the cast spent five days filming aboard the Lady Washington (temporarily renamed “Enterprise“) just off Marina del Rey, California, in April, 1994.

In fact, there’s a real mix of fact and fiction on-screen. With about a minute left in the scene, we see Deanna Troi at the ship’s wheel when she feels compelled to assist Capt. Picard.  “Here, take the wheel,” she says to a man unfamiliar to Trek fans.  That man was Capt. Bill Larson of Port Angeles, the Lady Washington‘s real Master and helmsman.  For three seconds he steered two ships — in the movie and in real life.

Star Trek Generations was only the beginning of the Lady Washington‘s movie career.  The tall ship’s primary focus is as ambassador for the state and to promote maritime history in whichever port she anchors.  But when her schedule permits, she appears in films, on television, and in commercials.  Her most prominent role was as the Interceptor in the hugely popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie series with Johnny Depp. She may have gotten the most screen time in Blackbeard.  Below is the complete list of her appearances in major film projects to date.  There will likely be more.  Once you know her uniquely painted hull, you’ll be able to spot her on the big screen again.

MAJOR FILMS FEATURING THE LADY WASHINGTON

  • Star Trek: Generations (Paramount Pictures, 1994) as the Enterprise
  • The West (IMAX)*
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Walt Disney Pictures, 2003) as the Interceptor, which Capt Jack Sparrow briefly boards 13 minutes into the movie, swan dives off, and then commandeers her 34 minutes later.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Walt Disney Pictures, 2006)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Walt Disney Pictures, 2007)
  • Blackbeard (Stonewerks Productions, TV movie 2006) as the Queen Anne’s Revenge. There are many good views of the ship throughout the film.
  • The Real Story: Pirates of the Caribbean (Blink Films for the Smithsonian Channel, 2011)
  • Once Upon a Time (Stage 49 Ltd. / ABC Entertainment, 2012), Season 2, Episode 4 “The Crocodile”, filmed at Britannia Shipyards in Richmond, BC, and aired Oct 21, 2012.  As in Star Trek Generations, the actual captain of the Lady Washington, J. B. Morrison, appears on-screen briefly at the wheel behind the Captain Hook character.

*WA-List was not able to independently verify an IMAX movie named The West, but we did find a listing for The Great American West, IMAX 1995.


ABOUT THE SHIP:  The Lady Washington is owned by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen, WA.  We encourage you to visit the GHHSA website for sailing schedules so you can visit the ship personally.  It’s quite a treat.

PHOTO of the Lady Washington on Commencement Bay, 2008 © Steve Campion.

SOURCES:  We knew of the captain’s appearance in Star Trek Generations, but didn’t know his name.  Joe Follansbee of the GHHSA knew about a similar captain’s appearance in Once Upon a Time, but not in Star Trek.  He did some checking and we thank him for verifying the names of both captains for us.  He also kindly sent us a link to one of the TV commercials on the Lady‘s resume.  The movie titles were from the GHHSA website; the movie dates were from the Internet Movie Database.  Finally, we trolled the websites related to the ship’s films, and watched several of them again.  We had the popcorn and figured “why not?”

POST-SCRIPT:  While on board the Enterprise/Lady Washington, Capt. Picard becomes nostalgic about tall ships with first officer Riker.  “Just imagine what it was like,” Picard says. “No engines.  No computers.  Just the wind, the sea, the stars to guide you.”  Riker responds: “Bad food.  Brutal discipline.  No women.”

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