The Maritime Museum boasts one of the main collections of submarine archeology and maritime history in Brazil. To the sound of old sea shanties, visitors witness a simulation of cannon fire, look at models of captains and pirates and enjoy seeing relics salvaged from 18th and 19th-century vessels, including pirate ships and the Titanic.
The entrance to the museum, inaugurated in December 2005, is decorated with ship’s flags and a life-size model of a pirate. Inside you can find models of famous vessels, a collection of medals of varying nationalities and 25 oil paintings by Carlos Alfredo Hablitzel, which depict important Brazilian and foreign naval episodes. Among these is the first naval battle in Santos Bay, in 1580.
A piece of coal used to power the Titanic is one of the highlights of the space given over to this ship, which sank in 1912, on its maiden voyage, killing more than 1,500 people. It’s here because the RMS Titanic Inc. holds exclusive legal rights to the commercial exploitation of the vessel and the only item that can be sold to the public is the coal that fueled the ship’s engines. Found near the remains of the ship, around 3,800 meters down, large lumps of coal were salvaged in an expedition in 1994, in the North Atlantic, near the Canadian coast. The space also houses a model of the vessel; posters; a Union Jack flag, denoting where the ship was built, compasses and ship’s wheel similar to those used at the time.
Príncipe de Astúrias (Prince of Astúrias)
There is also a painting of and various objects from the Spanish Transatlantic Liner Príncipe de Astúrias, which was lost near Ilha Bela (SP) on March 6, 1916, in the biggest shipwreck off the Brazilian coast. There are pieces of the vessel, cutlery, serving dishes, a light fitting and bottles of whiskey. The ship was bound for Santos and sank in less than ten minutes, killing 445 people – 143 survived. There is also old diving equipment, for example an English Siebe Gorman diving suit, used in 1950 to salvage pieces from a French pirate vessel sunk in Paranaguá (Paraná), in 1718. This diving equipment was made in 1910 and weighs more than 100 kilos – the helmet alone weighs 7 kilos and each boot, 12 kilos.
Anyone who wants to can learn how to tie a bowline knot, the main naval knot, and pose for photographs sporting pirate hats and swords, and even standing beside the jaw of a megalodon, a pre-historic shark, extinct for 30 million years.
The Gorch Fock Diary
The museum’s upper floor is home to the diary of crew member of a Gorch Fock vessel, found on the German ship that was transporting German troops in 1939.
Bibliographic and document collection
Special mention for the collections of books and documents in the museum, with around a thousand books referring to maritime and naval histories; 3,000 postcards from shipping companies; 1,300 records of shipwrecks off the Brazilian coast and a newspaper library.
Another attraction at the Maritime Museum is the collection of commemorative medals from the Brazilian Navy and other countries, as well as glass and bamboo cane floats, made in Japan more than 50 years ago.
The building that houses the museum recalls a fisherman’s house from the past, built in the local ‘caiçara’ tradition, representing the architecture similar to constructions on the north coast of São Paulo State.