The following true tale is from the history of the oldest commissioned warship in the world. It comes by way of the National Park Service, as printed in *Oceanographic Ships, Fore and Aft,* a periodical by the oceanographer of the U. S. Navy.
On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston, loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder, and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass British shipping.
On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later, Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 2,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.
On 18 November, she set sail for England, where her crew captured and scuttled 12 British merchant vessels and took their rum aboard. By this time, Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid there. Here, her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 13,000 gallons to her stores, and headed for home port.
On 20 February 1780, Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, and no whiskey. She did, however, still have her full crew of 475 officers and men and 18,600 gallons of water.
The math is quite enlightening: Length of cruise: 181 days.
Booze consumption: 1.26 gallons per man per day (this does NOT include the unknown quantity of rum captured from the 12 British merchant ships in November).
Naval historians say that the reenlistment rate from this cruise was 92 per cent!
USS Constitution ('Old Ironsides')
'Old Ironsides' is the most famous ship in the history of the US Navy. It was built in Boston in 1797 and did battle in three wars. It earned its nickname during the Battle of 1812 when British cannonballs bounced off the sides of teh ship doing no damage. You can tour the fully restored ship, though I didn't have time to spend much time here.
One of the first ships of the American Navy, this ship saw extensive serivce in the Barbary and War of 1812.
The USS Constitution also known as 'Old Ironsides', because the British cannonballs were bouncing off its hull.
Built in 1797, Old Ironsides is the oldest warship still afloat in the world.
USS Constitution - Cannon closeup
Here is a close up photo of one of the cannons along the gunnery deck. Notice the large rope used to secure the cannon when it fires!
Follow the Freedom Trail to the USS Constitution. Visit the Museum where you can learn so much American History. The Battleship that sailed all over the world and at War.
This World War II destroyer was struck by a kamikaze raid at Okinawa, but it now sits peacefully in the Charlestown Navy Yard and can be toured daily between 10am and 6pm.
Between 1800 and 1974 this navy yard served the US Navy. Today, you can visit the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young as well as a few of the buildings in the shipyard.
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