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Naval Ship - USS Constitution

Updated on April 5, 2015

USS Constitution

It's quite amazing that a ship that was first launched in 1797 still sets sail today. Larger and more heavily armed than the standard warship, the USS Constitution and its five sister frigates were formidable foes for enemy navies.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikipedia/Hunter Stires

(Public Domain Photo)

Construction and History

Named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America, she is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat in the world. Launched in 1797, Constitution was one of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794. Joshua Humphreys designed these frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than the standard frigates of the period. Built in Boston, Massachusetts at Edmund Hartt's shipyard, her first duties with the newly formed United States Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.

Constitution is most famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of "Old Ironsides" and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping. She continued to actively serve the nation as flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons and circled the world in the 1840s. During the American Civil War she served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy and carried artwork and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878. Retired from active service in 1881, she served as a receiving ship until designated a museum ship in 1907. In 1931 she started a three year 90-port tour of the nation and in 1997 she finally sailed again under her own power for her 200th birthday.

Constitution's mission today is to promote 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 US Navy ship, her crew of 60 officers and sailors participate in ceremonies, educational programs and special events while keeping the ship open to visitors year-round and providing free tours. The officers and crew are all active-duty US Navy personnel and the assignment is considered special duty in the Navy. Traditionally, command of the vessel is....(read more)

USS Constitution Sets Sail

Launched in 1797, the USS Constitition is the oldest active naval ship in the world.

Thoughts on the USS Constitution? - Feel free to comment here. Thanks for visiting!

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    • Zen Automat profile image

      Zen Automat 6 years ago

      I'll always remember my first trip to the USS Constitution... great lens

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      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      What a large selection of interesting lenses about people, places and historic things you have done...beautiful lens.

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