Commissioned in 1797, the USS Constitution is the world's oldest floating commissioned naval vessel. Though she serves primarily as an educational vessel, she's still seaworthy, and will take sail on July 4 to celebrate Independence Day. Uploaded by physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com.
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.
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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?
The USS Enterprise was the first nuclear-powered carrier of the US Navy, symbolized here by Einstein's famous equation . Uploaded by en.wikipedia.com.
I can still remember when the Enterprise was launched at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Even though I was just a kid (it was 1962), I sensed the pride of the entire city that our signature employer had built the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, “The Big E.”
Now, almost fifty years later, the USS Enterprise is the second-oldest ship still commissioned by the US Navy. Only the historic and symbolic USS Constitution is older. The Enterprise is 1,123 feet long, making it the longest naval vessel in the world.
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Today’s Enterprise follows the great carrier of the same name that was an integral part of America’s naval efforts in World War II. That carrier engaged in more battles against Japan than any other American ship, and was one of only three carriers commissioned before the war that survived it.
Today’s Enterprise has had a number of significant assignments, including helping in the quarantine of Cuba during the Missile Crisis and assisting with naval support during Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Its home port is now the Norfolk Naval Base (within sight of its Newport News birthplace), The USS Enterprise is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2013. I hate for that time to come, but the ship will end its final tour as the longest-serving aircraft carrier in US history…
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.