Commissioned in 1797 and named by George Washington, the Constitution earned her nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 when she defeated the HMS Guerriere. The ship also fought in the First Barbary War.
In 1930 a rumor spread that she was about to be scrapped, having already outlasted the usual life span of a wooden ship. Then Oliver Wendell Holmes published his poem “Old Ironsides” in the Boston newspaper, and the public rallied to preserve the famous ship. The American people have rallied to her preservation ever since.
The Constitution is a frigate, with three masts and a wood hull. She remains the world’s oldest floating commissioned naval vessel. Today, she serves primarily as an educational ship, and tours are given most days by active duty Navy personnel. Her crew of 60 recognize theirs as a very special assignment. And yes, she is still seaworthy. In fact, USS Constitution and her crew will get underway from the ship’s berth in Charlestown, Mass. July 4, to celebrate Independence Day. Wouldn’t it be glorious to see her under sail again?