In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Intrepid Museum recognizes and remembers the service of Intrepid and Growler crew members with ancestral links to Central and South America, Mexico, Spain, and the Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean.
The Spanish-speaking world spans continents and cultures. Sailors on Intrepid traced their roots to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela and beyond. Amid this cultural diversity, sharing a second language was one way for sailors to forge a common bond. Those who learned Spanish at home could gather after a long day to relax and chat with shipmates in Spanish or Spanglish.
Bilingual crew members also used their skills to communicate with locals while visiting ports of call. Over the decades, Intrepid visited Spain, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. By bypassing the usual language barrier between visiting crew members and host cities, bilingual crew members improved the sometimes unfavorable reputations of “rowdy sailors.” This was an important achievement during the Cold War when part of Intrepid’s mission was to build goodwill among allies.
Today, Intrepid is serving a new mission as a museum in one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse cities in the world. More than 1.8 million New Yorkers speak Spanish. Thousands more visit the Intrepid Museum every year from Spanish-speaking countries. To better serve its community, the Museum is exploring new ways to make exhibitions and programming accessible to Spanish speakers. Currently, the Museum’s free digital guide is available in a wide range of languages, including Spanish, through autotranslation.