Celebrating over 40 years of serving as the memory and educational voice of America's Ship of State. Our hands-on exhibits welcome visitors of all age!
Prior to independence, the thirteen American colonies enjoyed protection from pirates and foreign navies under the British Royal Navy. However, after winning freedom from Britain, the young nation had to provide its own defense.
In 1794, Congress authorized the construction of the first six warships to comprise the new United States Navy. Each of the six were built at different seaports along the eastern coast. Constitution was built at Hartt's shipyard in the North End of Boston.
Construction began in 1794 and Constitution launched on October 21, 1797. She went on her first cruise the next year as the Quasi-War with France emerged. Later she served in engagements with pirates off the Barbary coast in the Mediterranean.
Constitution's crew defeated four British frigates during three separate engagements. She earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" because the cannon fire from enemy ships seemed as if they couldn't penetrate her strong oak hull.
Before and after these voyages, Constitution had to undergo constant repairs and refits.
Watch the video below for 5 more facts you didn't know about the USS Constitution.
Naval officers and crew still serve aboard her. The Navy operates the ship as a historic site in cooperation with the National Park Service. The Naval History and Heritage Command, Detachment Boston, is housed in Building 24 and is responsible for the maintenance, repair and restoration of USS Constitution at the Navy Yard.
Most of that work throughout her service was here in Boston at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Established in 1800, the yard was one of six commissioned for the purpose of keeping the Navy afloat. After over 200 years in the Navy, Constitution still calls Charlestown home and relies on the same facilities for maintenance and repair in dry dock. You can watch the rigorous undocking process below.
Cover photo credit: @dnjent via Instagram.