1797 Construction of USS Constitution is completed at Edmund Hartt’s Shipyard in Boston.

The frigate is launched as one of the first six ships of the new United States Navy.

1803-1805 USS Constitution serves as flagship during the Barbary Wars, defending American shipping interests in the Mediterranean Sea.

1812 In a short and fierce battle during the War of 1812, USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Guerriere and earns the famous nickname “Old Ironsides”

1830 USS Constitution is rumored to be scrapped until Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem “Old Ironsides” sparks public outcry.

1897 After spending nearly 40 years as a training ship USS Constitution is permanently returned to Charlestown Navy Yard.

1931-1934 Restored, USS Constitution embarks on a three-year tour of America’s East, Gulf and West Coasts.

1997 Newly restored, the ship sails under its own sail power for the first time in 116 years to celebrate her bicentennial.

USS Constitution, known affectionately as “Old Ironsides,” is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

The ship’s commanding officer maintained accomodations for business and comfort in the sizable captain’s cabin.

The helm is the ship’s primary steering mechanism. It is attached to the rudder through a series of ropes and pulleys. The capstans, which are located on the spar and gun decks, are used to manuever heavy objects such as sails and anchors.

At 210 ft., the mainmast is 13 feet shorter than the nearby Bunker Hill Monument and holds the main topsail, as large as a regulation basketball court. The main hatch, a large opening in the spar deck covered with wooden latticework, allowed supplies and long guns into the ship.

Welcome Aboard...

The Charlie Noble is the smokestack for the camboose, or galley stove, used to cook meals for almost 500 men on the gun deck below.

USS Constitution displayed several figureheads (with figure) and billetheads (without figure) in her time, including Hercules, President Andrew Jackson, and a dragon winding down her bow.

Launched October 21, 1797, from a shipyard just a stone’s throw from her berth today, she was a marvel of warfare science and America’s most advanced symbol of diplomacy.



The wardroom is where the ship’s officers lived. The accomodations were less comfortable than the captain’s, but considerably more so than the rest of the crew. The hull is a white oak/live oak/ white oak “sandwich” design that repelled or absorbed gun shot and earned the ship its famous nickname. At points, the hull is 24 inches thick. Made of white oak, the keel is original to USS Constitution, being laid at the ship’s construction. It acts as the “backbone” which supports the rest of the ship.

A thick hull incorporating Live Oak, a tree unique to the southern United States, contributed to “Old Ironsides’” cumulative 33-0 engagement record. The sweat, dedication and sacrifice of her U.S. Navy crew virtually ensured it. Crewed, maintained and operated by the U.S. Navy to this day, USS Constitution stands as an active reminder of America’s martime heritage, its struggle to preserve its freedom, and national pride.

Most of the ship’s 400 men slept in four-hour shifts in hammocks that packed the berth deck. The ship’s surgeon performed his work in the surgeon’s cockpit, a cramped space where the tools, while the best available for the time, now appear harsh after 200 years of medical progress. The diagonal riders were technological innovations incorporated into USS Constitution’s design. Massive lengths of wood transfer the ship’s weight evenly along the keel to prevent it from “hogging” (warping).

The long guns weighed about 6,000 pounds and could hurl a 24-pound solid iron shot across a 1,200 yard range . It took a team of 7-14 men to operate the unwieldy guns.

Welcome to America’s Ship of State!

Background painting courtesy Mike Haywood.

This brochure designed by the USS Constitution Public Affairs Office and approved by the Commanding Officer, USS Constitution. All images by USS Constitution Public Affairs. Photos are public domain unless otherwise noted. October, 2009.

were attacked by Barbary (North African) John Percival. Constitution was Commodore Edward Preble’s flagship Constitution sailed for the first time in more than 116 years. Constitution had her last great fight. June 18. with some of it raised ship. Gulf to Algeria. The Royal Navy reigned supreme and needed ever increasing number of sailors. in celebration of the ship’s 200th year. however. in 1882 converted to a of “Old Ironsides. the Barbary States of From 1927-31. .S. before returning to service in tion’s solid oak hull and an unknown Sailor Naval Armament Act. It was a dramatic victory for America and for Constitution. John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. United States. Sr. enraged that other nations dered his ship. money for restoration in 1833. visit our website at spearheading action to bring Constitution aft mast fell. eventually Congress appropriated for her with all sails set. the United States “rose to the rank of a firstthrilling millions of patriotic Americans and proving once again blockaded Tripoli Harbor and bombarded fortifications and armed class power” and the country was fired with fresh confidence and courage in the unpopular War of 1812. a depended upon seaborne commerce with other nations. “Old Ironsides” patrolled the upon the enemy in silence. its guests and crew. Including: into her!” A whole broadlaunched October 21. “Now.” by exchanged fire before her -The Barbary Warmore.370 miles in more than riere began firing. their A History of the Ship. Lawrence. Although Marines that serve the United States proudly. . From 1931-34. that she is truly America’s Ship of State. was ready to take the ponent. From 1853-55.navy. Tripoli. aroused popular feelship was sighted and Constitution made chants who traded in the Mediterranean ing amongst Bostonians. Funds for the to go through a security screening crashing down the entire Mizzenmast Height: 175’ 4” tribute on even the most powerful European restoration were generously donated by the process to ensure the safety of the length of the enemy’s Displacement: 1. On February 20. The remaining balance fore building our Navy. west coast of Africa searching for illegal slave traders. ConstituUSS Constitution Today http://history.In 1812. including her 1844-46 cruise around the world under Captain When Constitution was still far astern. Constitution toured the East. the largest Crew Composition word. and. entitled “Old Ironsides”.. American forces In half an hour. was In 1897. The gun crews American sailors. boys. 1881 iron!” Thus Constitution Crew: 7-14 / Range: ~1200 yards Constitution was designed by Joshua when she was decommisioned. In 1878 she went on (24) 32-Pounder Carronades smaller 18-pound guns continued to impact George Washington argued for a Navy. in the Mediterranean in 1803. cut seven dead and seven wounded in a battle more than 22. American merchant ships were -In Transitionseized to prevent trade with France and American crews were “impressed” into British service. Nearly five hours later. 1934.. 1812. Trubute to Tripoli ceased and the American captives Two British warships the frigate HMS Cyane and the sloop-of-war HMS Levant were spotted off the island of Madeira. and drew public attention to “Old Ironsides. Constitution made numerous voyages.000 miles and 76 ports. If payment was refused. Captain Charles Stewart’s skillful maneuvering prevented them from regrouping and overpowering him. 4 Chiefs. left vulnerable by From 1835-55. and Tunis. transiting the Panama Canal. nearly abreast did Capfound via internet mapping sites at from various places along the east coast. pour 1 Constitution Rd. “Old Ironsides” was used Rated 44 Guns. MA. as thanks to Tripoli. “Huzzah! Her sides are made of (30) 24-Pounder Long Guns be built along the eastern seaboard. It proved to be found it increasingly difficult to conduct trade. one to the Boston Navy Yard on May 7. Rallying to “Free Trade and Sailor’s In 1830. Navy Sailors and West coasts. Great Britain had been for 19 years at war with France. Cannon shot from Guerriere’s and the lives of American citizens.” America declared war on Great Britain. long career at sea closed in December. stripped gained the renowned title Humphreys and Josiah Fox to be powerful of her rigging. Cyane and Levant had surrendered. which cut away in a “pennies campaign” by school children captured and the crews sold into slavery. Constitution. Constitution bore down corsairs who captured the ships and enslaved War of 1812 Era 500 days at sea. tion passed ahead and Foremast Height: 190’ 11” For centuries. 1794 with the the Universal Exposition at Paris. 30-40 Officers & Midshipmen for 15 minutes the ships For directions. authorizing six frigates to the Apprentice Training Squadron for newly enlisted men. The British lost 78 killed and 3 Officers. the British 38-gun frigate American merchant ships. new United States economy Rights. ship to be built in Boston up to that time. Armament stood patiently at their quarters awaiting the Recognizing the threat to our economy During the American Civil War. 1801. 63 Crew America. The ship carries out Tripolitan boats. MerHolmes. President as a U. Conher last trip across the Atlantic. Tunis. Upon arrival. BeLength: 207’ (Billethead to Taffrail) much of the rigging. of thousands of dollars in presents and tribute Crew Composition: and main masts fell. 450-500. Naval Academy training ship. decks.. infamous for terrorizing American ships. ships were people of America. and. were released. 1815. carrying American exhibits to Crew: 4-8 / Range: ~400 yards but did remarkably little damage to Constitugress responded on March 27. her modern day mission as the Navy’s ambassador to the On June 3. for her centennial.War of 1812 - combined batteries were heavier. after hosting more on May 14. “Old Ironsides” unAll visitors to the ship are required sent a raking broadside Mainmast Height: 210” Morocco. visitor hours. Algiers.mil/ussconstitution back to Boston. Her shouted.6 million visitors.. a peace treaty was drawn up in Constitupublic and is a representative of the thousands of Sailors and tion’s cabin..” (1) 18-Pounder Bow Chaser enough to defeat any enemy within her class Visiting Us.. fight to Guerriere .S. individually each was smaller and lighter than Constitution. she carried: order to fire. 02129 a Massachusetts Congressman and grand55 Marines / 8-10 Ship’s Boys side struck Guerriere and father of future president John F. “Old Ironsides” returned down the flagpole at the American consulate that lasted approximately 35 minutes. 1997. thus declaring war on the of the shortest in history. the disbanding of the Continental Navy in The Ship at a Glance. HMS Guerriere.. the wood for her construction came Sail Area: 42.in Portsmouth Navy Yard. Ship’s Stats Kittery. than 4. be condemned and scrapped. across the nation.used for administraThe inspired crew and fast enough to out sail a stronger optive purposes .710 Square Ft. 1797. Guer1785. America paid hundreds Guerriere ’s fore necessary was appropriated by Congress. and Tripoli had levied derwent a major restoration. when she covered 52. A poem by Oliver Wendell On August 19. but USS Constitution is open for public Built at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard in Speed: 13+ Knots (~15mph) not until the ships were visitation year-round and can be Boston. 1805. Charlestown.900+ tons nations. On July 21. from -Into the 20th Century tain Isaac Hull give the Charlestown Navy Yard Maine to Georgia. Kennedy. The voyage began in Boston on July 2 and covered wounded while the Americans suffered only were receiving more tribute than he. Maine. Captain James Dacres surrren70 Active Duty U. Navy receiving ship . southeast of the Gulf of St. it was rumored that Constitution was to After the Revolutionary War. The Bashaw of helpless.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful