So here we are, the final part of our look at the season three locations from “The Last Ship”. So far, in the first ten episodes, we have been taken on a journey through south-east Asia – China, a pirate lair, the St Louis Whitehouse, and more besides! The final three episodes of the season, however, edged things up a notch, especially when they brought the action back to the USA, giving us plenty to look at in terms of location.

#311 – LEGACY

“Legacy”, episode eleven, written by Hiram Martinez, split the action firmly between the USA and south-east Asia. However, the first location we are going to look at is the Chinese destroyer, Henan.


The sets are incredibly detailed, and it would be reasonable to assume that new sets were built to portray this ship. However, due to budget constraints, no new sets were built. The Henan was, in fact, a redressed Nathan James! As many key details were changed as possible, and, with careful lighting and camera angles, it was easy to believe that you might well be on a different ship altogether.



credit: theambassadorauditorium.org

Sticking with the Asia plot, it’s incredible denouement was at the Japanese Archive. It is here that we see Takehaya and Peng fatally face off against one another: Takehaya with vengeance on his mind, and, according to Fernando Chien, Peng choosing to commit seppuku by pulling himself onto Takehaya’s sword.

Taking place wholly at night, there is an almost otherworldly quality to the location, its stark modernity contrasting with the apparently ancient statue in front of it. A statue which, in fact, was never there! It was a pole set in place by production, in front of a green screen, and the statue was superimposed on top of it. When you saw the explosion on screen, it was literally… nothing. Just smoke and flames created by the practical effects team.

Source: Hiram Martinez – @hrm114

The building in question, however, has an impressive sculpture of its own outside. Taking the place of the Japanese Archives is the Ambassador Auditorium, home to a somewhat controversial church, and also one of the most famous and esteemed concert halls in the world. The sculpture, in fact a bronze fountain named Egret Fountain, by British sculptor David Wynne, is over 35 feet high, and soars against a backdrop of the auditorium, over a reflecting pool. Of course, this was erased from the episode.

The auditorium’s interior appearance is uncannily similar to the actual Japanese Archives building in Tokyo, and, especially in its semi-darkened state, makes a suitable stand-in for the original. Jeffrey Kushon, set decorator, explained that they went to great pains to recreate the documents and artifacts of the Japanese archive as faithfully as possible, and Hiroyuki Sanada, who played Takehaya, found the experience of filming those scenes incredibly difficult.

This location is open to the public: http://theambassadorauditorium.org



We can’t forget that the episode began with the reintroduction of a fan favourite – Tex – taking a beating at Regional Leader Roberta Price’s ranch in Texarkana. Far from having to go to Texas to find the right location, the cast and crew upped sticks to a location within the 30-mile zone. Portraying the barns at the Price ranch was actually the Arabian Division of Ventura Farms, just outside of Thousand Oaks.


credit: Hiram Martinez – @hrm114

The farm is a working farm, specialising in horse breeding and training, and also houses a vast conservatory for the growing of prize orchids. Also of interest is a collection of boulders that the owner, David Murdock, had shipped over from the River Kwai – they are natural sculptures, and many have eerie, almost human shapes.

This location is not open to the public.




Also in “Legacy” is Tex’s reunion with Kara. A beaten up, seemingly deserted country gas station might seem like an unlikely choice of venue, and it must have come with a few headaches for the location scouts to find just the right one. While many of the movie ranches in the Santa Clarita area have their own gas stations on set, most are well maintained and modern. To find one that would serve as a post-apocalyptic location would take some effort.

Credit: Hiram Martinez – @hrm114

The perfect location was found as part of Newhall Films’ location portfolio, on a private lot off Pico Canyon Road, west of Santa Clarita. A corrugated iron structure in an isolated, almost desolate area, it made for the perfect – almost stereotypically scary – location for a meet-up that you wouldn’t want anyone to witness. There are a few changes made to the facade of the gas station to suit the production, but these were minimal.

This location is not open to the public.





Episode twelve, “Resistance”, gave us a couple of locations of note. Firstly, we have the train and warehouse terminal where Chandler and co meet up with Kara, Tex, Kathleen and President Oliver. At first glance, it is a fairly nondescript warehouse complex, which could be just about anywhere. It’s not “just anywhere”, though. These scenes were shot at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, where a lot of the exteriors from “The Last Ship” are filmed. The train tracks are part of the Port of Los Angeles infrastructure…



…which leads nicely onto what is the pivotal scene of the episode, and one of the most shocking scenes of the whole season: the people trafficking train. The crew of the Nathan James plan to stop a train they believe is carrying food and supplies, only to discover – shortly before an explosion hits the train – that it is, in fact, carrying people to work in Castillo’s facilities. It is an epic action sequence, full of tension and second-guessing, culminating in the shocking discovery that the Regional Leaders are trading people like horses, forcing them to work just to survive.


This sequence was shot on an actual public railroad – the Fillmore & Western Railway. Specialising in heritage trips, mystery weekends and other novelty trips, the company is owned by Short Line, a specialist company providing trains to the movie business. Its bread and butter is still hiring out locations and rolling stock to Hollywood, but, if you’re interested, you can book a place on any one of their tours and trips.






It’s bittersweet to move onto the season finale, “Don’t Look Back”. However, again, we were treated to a plethora of locations in which to bury ourselves. Not least of which were the homes of Shaw and the Regional Leaders. Alison Shaw’s home, ostensibly in a high rise in St Louis, was actually in the Culver Hotel in Culver City, a stone’s throw from the studio.

The home of Regional Leader Roberta Price, though, far from being portrayed by the same location as her barns, was represented by the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.

Bearing an uncanny likeness to Hillwood Estate in Washington DC, now a museum, the Sherwood Country Club was actually where the first Robin Hood film, starring Errol Flynn, was shot. Now, it is one of the most prestigious country clubs in the state, offering an unparalleled golf course and even real estate opportunities.

This location is only open to members and their guests.



“THE LAST SHIP S3 UNIT” “Don’t Look Back” / Ep 313 TNT Ph: Doug Hyun

Of course, the airport where the crew of the Nathan James stands off against Alison Shaw and her men is quite possibly the pivotal scene of the entire show so far, as it triggers the chain reaction that results in the final scene that shocked us all. We don’t see much of the location, but the scenes were, in fact, shot at Ontario Airport to the east of Los Angeles. While this is a public airport with scheduled flights, it also caters to private flights, and, as such, “The Last Ship” was able to film here.



Pphoto by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Finally, the last scene that broke our hearts: Tom Chandler leaving the US Navy. This was filmed in San Diego, on board the USS Wayne E Meyer, DDG 108. The show films in San Diego at the naval base at least once per season, usually twice, and the DDG used will depend on what is in port at the time. In this case, it was the USS Wayne E Meyer.

This location is not open to the public.

Photo: Triini Selgis – @triini_selgis

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on the locations used in season three of “The Last Ship” – watch out for our EXCLUSIVE video interviews coming soon, and more articles on the locations used in seasons one and two!

As always, thanks go to Jeffrey Kushon for his invaluable assistance.