The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned vassal vessel in the world is once again afloat after being docked for 26 months for restoration. This historic ship, which will soon turn 220, was undocked on Sunday, July 23, from the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park in Boston. Then, it entered the Boston Harbor.
— U.S. Naval History (@USNHistory) July 24, 2017
USS Constitution To Turn 220 Years Old in October, While Still Afloat
The USS Constitution was first launched in 1797 and was designed by Joshua Humphreys, a successful and influential ship builder at the time. It is just one of the six original frigates the Naval Act of 1794 authorized for construction. Its name, “Constitution”, was chosen by President George Washington.
The wooden ship gained its famous nickname in the War of 1812 fought against the United Kingdom. It is famous for capturing its rival ship, the HMS Guerriere, following 35 minutes long battle. During this, reports state that a sailor cried out “Huzza! Her sides are made of iron!”, which led to its being called “Old Ironsides”.
The exclamation allegedly came after noting that British iron cannon balls supposedly bounced harmlessly off the Constitution’s sides.
1855 saw the retirement of the USS Constitution from active military service. That is not to say that the vessel was just left to float somewhere.
Media reports point out that, since then, the vessel continued serving its country as it was used as a training ship. Later on, it started being used a touring national landmark.
Constitution has been calling Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard its base since 1934. Throughout the year, Ironsides passed through a number of restorations. This most recent one was initiated back in 2015 and spanned across 26 months.
The recent restoration helped extend the life of the wooden ship, which is almost two feet thick. According to a media report, it did so by replacing, among others, 100 hull planks. 2,200 new copper sheets were also installed. Almost 100,000 museum visitors have signed 500 of them.
The Naval History and Heritage Command website states that Old Constitution’s role is to “encourage understanding of the Navy’s role in war and peace through educational outreach, historic demonstration, and active participation in public events.”
As a fully commissioned Navy ship, it has a crew of 60 sailors and officers. It is visited every year by almost half a million people. Constitution participates in educational programs, ceremonies, and also special events while also providing free tours to interested visitors all year round.
Image Source: Wikimedia