In the movie Master and Commander the crew of Captain Jack Aubrey's ship are shocked to discover the ship they are chasing, the Archeron, was built in the famed dockyards of Boston. It meant their foe was greatly more powerful than they were expecting. In fact that French ship, the Acheron, was modeled completely on the USS Constitution. The movie changed the ownership of the frigate to the French, and moved the dates back to the Napoleonic Wars, in order not to offend American audiences by having the protagonist chase down an beloved American warship.
The USS Constitution was one of the first ships commissioned by the new country, by George Washington, and remains the oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world still afloat. It saw action in the Mediterranean during the new country's first war: with the pirates of the Barbary Coast. It made its name, however, in battles with the British during the War of 1812, defeating five British warships. This was no mean feat for a fledgling navy going up against the greatest naval force in the world at that time.
After this "Old Ironsides", as she became known, saw no further action. She was used as a training ship during the Civil War before ending her career as a floating museum in the Charlestown Naval Yard.
This ship, nicknamed “Old Ironsides” in the War of 1812 because the British cannon balls would deflect off her thick hull, is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, originally launched in 1797. It was one of six ships that George Washington ordered to be built for defense of the new country.
Old Ironsides now rests in the Charleston Navy Yard (where the British Army had landed before the Battle of Bunker Hill). It is a National Historical Park and is open to the public (free). In addition to the USS Constitution, the USS Cassin Young, a WWII destroyer, is on display.
There is a nice museum at the park as well, giving tourists a good overview of Boston’s naval history.
The line was long to tour the USS Constitution, so I recommend you get there early to visit it. The park is open daily.
There are still active duty sailors assigned to the ship and there are available for questions about the ship.
The USS Constitution, a three-masted heavy frigate carrying 44 guns, was launched in Boston Harbor on 21 October 1797. Named by George Washington, the ship played a key role in defeating the British off the coast of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812, earning it the nickname "Old Ironsides."
The Museum is open to the general public but access to the ship is restricted.
The present facility is located just across the pier from the still active and floating naval ship USS CONSTITUTION. The Museum houses and displays artifacts related to the Ship’s history in interpretive exhibitions depicting the USS CONSTITUTION's history. The founding of the Museum enabled the Ship to clear its decks of display cases so that visitors who tour aboard see a frigate ready to sail, rather than a floating museum.
If you want to actually go aboard the the ship go to http://www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/ and click on Visitor Info to find the security instructions which must be met before access will be granted.
Located at the end of the Freedom Trail in The Boston Charleston Naval Yard at Pier 1 , you will find the immaculate USS Constitution. This old wooden hulled three masted heavy frigate of The United States Navy ..Named by George Washington after the United States Constitution. Launced in 1797 and one of six frigates organised for construction under The Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed of the six.
The USS Constitution is the worlds oldest commisioned floating wooden Naval vessel and with the nickname of "Old Ironsides" A name derived from its hard "live oak" a tree unique to the Southern United States and still in active service..Destined to be scrapped in 1830 .so much ill feeling was aroused by this decision that eventually it was decided to restore this popular ship and Congress appropriated the restoration funds in 1833. This vessel looks today as I imagined it looked when first built the vessel appears just so well kept with its high polish and fresh paint ..I think this would be a duty one would want , and to be posted onboard would be a pleasure for any naval rating. Carrying a crew of 60 officers and sailors The USS. Constitution is in active service and still participates in special events and ceremonies recently celebrating her 213 birtday on October 21st 2010..This is a wonderful example of Americas Maritime Heritage
The Consitution and Cassin Young, along with the museum are isolated from the rest of the wharfs. The constitution has been in this yard since 1934, and maintained by the Navy. Last total rennovation was 1997They are under Navy control and actively used. The rope rigging takes up 5 miles of twined rope. It needs replacing periodically in spite of today it being synthetic. The 44 guns each weigh 5600 pounds, and send a 24 pound shot. It would go 1200 yards in length A gun crew of 9-14 men was required, and they could reload in one minute, better than the adversary.
It is open 106 Tues-Sunday and winters hours only Thursday-Sunday. Free admission and they let about 30-40 people on board at one time.
From the Freedom Trail website:
"The oldest commissioned warship in the world became known as "Old Ironsides" during the war of 1812 when she fought the British Frigate H.M.S. Guerriere and a cannonball fired at the U.S.S. Constitution merely "bounced off" as if she were made of iron. In fact the Constitution is made of a three-layer sandwich of wood from all across America.
Her "ironsides" are white oak from New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts; her frame is the dependable live oak from Saint Simons Island off Georgia; and her masts are yellow pine from Georgia and the Carolinas.The ship is permanently berthed in Boston harbor and ventures out two times a year. Today, it is still a fully commissioned ship, with its own crew and commander."
Definately make time to tour this ship. We were lucky enough to get a private night tour, and the information on the history of the ship (particularly the living conditions of the crew during her early years) was spellbinding.
All the information you need about the ship and tours can be found on their website (see below).
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat, originally launched in 1797 to protect American merchant ships from pirates. The first U.S. Navy was formed in 1794 and this ship was the third of its fleet to set sail.
The Constitution is best known for her success during the War of 1812, when her 21-inch thick wooden hull was not penetrated by a single British cannonball. This remarkable performance earned her the popular nickname, "Old Ironsides," although steel was not yet used to build ships. Since then, Old Ironsides has survived 42 battles, years of neglect, and numerous threats to tear her down. She is now maintained in her original condition by an elite team from the U.S. Navy as a symbol of American freedom, strength, and success as a naval power. A visit to the ship provides a taste of life at sea in the 1700s and 1800s and fits well into the history told by Boston's Freedom Trail.
USS CONSTITUTION WINTER HOURS
November 1 to March 31
Open Thurs -Sun, 10am-3:50 pm, tours every 30 minutes ending at 3:30pm
USS CONSTITUTION SUMMER HOURS
April 1 to October 31
Open Tues-Sun, 10am - 5:50 pm, tours every 30 minutes ending at 3:30pm
USS CONSTITUTION MUSEUM HOURS
Open daily 9am - 6pm
Open daily 10am - 5pm
I must admit that visiting the USS Constitution wasn't on my priority list but my friends wanted to go so I followed along and again, I'm really glad I did! The USS Constitution is the oldest American warship afloat. Built in 1794-97, this beautiful ship, nicknamed "Old Ironside" because enemy fire seemed to bounce off her during battle, won her first great victory in 1812 against the British and our tour guide - who was amazing by the way - did a great job of reminding us how big an event it was for the then newly-born US Marine. Oh, the irony!
The frigate USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, served with great distinction during the War of 1812. Built in 1797, she acquired the nickname due to her copper sheathing, which runs the length of her hull. This extra protection gave her a decisive edge in an engagement with a British warship, which she sent to the bottom.
This is the oldest US Navy ship in existence. It's a must-see for maritime and historical buffs.
The day of my visit was Independence Day, and the people of Charlestown flew a gigantic US flag from the ship's stern, took her for a cruise around the harbor, brought her back to her berth, and with great ceremony replaced the flag in its huge box. If you visit Boston on the 4th of July, this is the thing to see. It's an impressive sight.
This US Navy Fletcher-class destroyer was built during World War II. She is named for an officer who fought with great bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and in the fierce naval battles off Guadalcanal, where he was killed.
This ship is a fine example of a destroyer. The destroyer is a versatile, all-purpose combat vessel capable of all kinds of duties: engaging enemy surface ships with guns and/or torpedoes, providing anti-aircraft protection, anti-submarine warfare, providing gunfire support to the ground troops, search and rescue, and various auxiliary functions.
The Cassin Young served during the latter part of the Pacific War. She was at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and off Okinawa, where she was hit by a Japanese "kamikaze" suicide bomber.
This ship, nearly as old as the US, is the oldest commisioned naval vessel in the world. It saw its best action during the War of 1812, when it gained the nickname "Old Ironsides" when a British cannonball was witnessed to have bounced off the side of the ship. These days, it's mostly a floating museum, so feel free to tour the ship!
The USS Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides, is the oldest commissioned warship still float anywhere in the world. Admittedly, that's not saying a whole lot since she doesn't do much more than turn around once a year these days, but the fact that she's survived this long at all is a testament to the care that has been lavished on her for most of her career.
Old Ironsides retired from active service undefeated, her wooden sides proving impervious to cannon balls - hence her misleading nickname. She made her first sea voyage in 1798, with the US barely two decades old, and she was the pride of the Navy of the day - as well as a very expensive investment. Her early mission was to protect US merchant shipping from pirates and privateers, but later, in 1812, she proved herself in battle, dispatching two vessels of the Royal Navy, the HMS Guerriere and HMS Java.
As a commissioned Navy vessel, the USS Constitution is staffed by members of the Navy, who conduct the tours and give a sense of the ship's history, as well as the conditions in which her crew lived (let's just say that things were a little cramped below deck). It's the perfect complement to a viewing of 'Master and Commander' - and the visit to the ship is, unlike the movie, entirely free!
One of the most famous warships in US history, the Constitution (nicknamed Old Ironside) was to serve in several theaters of operation including the war of 1812. Commissioned in 1794 by President Washington, she was built over the course of several years and would see a long and illustrious career. Details on her history and battles can be seen on her official website.
Welcome to real history at her finest! Even people who bore easily will be able to enjoy this still active, in commision, oldest warship in the world. The tour lasts approximately 30-45 minutes and consists of the deck and first floor where the canons are. Our female tour guide was informative, friendly and delivered the history of the ship in a most fascinating manor.
Mid-April to Sept: Tuesday through Sundays from 10am -3:30pm
Contact their website email for info on winter hours and dates
Parking: (We parked at Nautica. Approx. $8)
• Nautica Parking Phone: (617) 723-1488
Location: Constitution Rd., opposite the Navy Yard visitor's center. 5 Minute walk to ship.
- Arrive at least one half hour before each tour to allow yourself to go through their rigorous security procedures.
- All bags, purses, wallets, backpacks, fannypacks, shopping bags, coats, etc. will be searched for weapons, explosives, and contraband.
- Weapons are not allowed on the ship or anywhere in the Navy Yard and the National Park Service may confiscate any weapon (including mace or pepper spray) that is illegal in the State of Massachusetts. For knives, this is anything over 2 1/2 inches.
- Do not confuse the museum with the ship. If you contact one, they won't be able to give you info about the other. We did, and the museum staff was grumpy about it.
- Obviously, weapons aren't allowed on board but don't forget about your other personal items that you may not want the world to know you're carrying. Like feminine hygiene napkins, condoms, etc. If you don't want the whole navy yard knowing, leave it in the car!
The oldest commissioned warship in the world became known as "Old Ironsides" during the war of 1812 when she fought the British Frigate H.M.S. Guerriere. The Guerriere sank like a stone, while the cannonballs she fired at the U.S.S. Constitution merely "bounced off" as if she were made of iron.
In fact the Constitution is made of a three-layer sandwich of wood from all across America. Her "ironsides" are white oak from New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts; her frame is the dependable live oak from Saint Simons Island off Georgia; and her masts are yellow pine from Georgia and the Carolinas.
Freedom Trail Walking Info :
Continue to follow The Trail across the Navy Yard to the USS Constitution Museum. Or follow The Trail out of the Navy Yard toward Monument Square by proceeding north to Adams Street. Bunker Hill Monument is located in Monument Square.