As the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel, the USS Constitution is a floating piece of American military history.
Service During The War of 1812
The USS Constitution was built as part of the U.S. Naval Act of 1794 and launched into service in 1797. The ship was constructed at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard in Boston, Massachusetts. The USS Constitution was one of six frigates built to be capital ships of the then fledgling U.S. Navy. Armed with more than 50 guns and cannons, the USS Constitution was built out of pine and oak wood. Legend has it that Paul Revere – who worked as a silversmith – crafted the ship’s copper bolts. The ship was named by President George Washington after the United States Constitution.
Officially launched on September 20, 1797, the USS Constitution first served as an escort for American merchant ships – providing protection against attack from the British and French Navies. Later, the ship served with distinction during the War of 1812 against England. Notably, the USS Constitution sank five British warships and captured more than a dozen British merchant ships during that war. The ship’s resilience and effectiveness in battle earned it the nickname “Old Ironsides” amongst sailors and the public.
Ambassador of the Fleet
Following its success in battle, the USS Constitution later served as a naval training ship during the American Civil War and was an important part of the U.S. Naval Training Academy for many years. After circling the world several times, the USS Constitution was retired from active service in 1881. The ship was designated a museum ship in 1907. However, the USS Constitution was reconstructed and sailed again in 1997 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its first commission.
Today, the USS Constitution serves as an ambassador for the U.S. Navy. The ship takes part in historic demonstrations and promotes understanding of the U.S. Navy’s military role. The USS Constitution continues to be the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel and has a crew of more than 50 active-duty naval officers and sailors. The ship and is anchored in Boston, Massachusetts – its original home. However, the USS Constitution frequently travels around the U.S. and the world for demonstrations and historic events.