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.
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in service and has a full crew. Always seen sailing in the harbour during the 4th July celebrations it is a classic warship and saw service during the 1812 War with the British.
The day in late May 2007 when we visited there were large crowds waiting to view the ship which prevented us from going aboard. We had a good view from the dock and took some good photos to remind us of the visit. There are several naval museums nearby which we enjoyed.
The ship was first put in use in 1797 at a cost of $302,718 (pretty precise-huh). It had a crew of 450-500 and the length is 204 feet with the beam another 45 feet overhanging. It was built as part of six to protect the US growing shipping interests. Piracy and French & English were all not good for that growth. So these ships were to protect the US sea activity. It was designed to be the fastest on the seas, but also carry comparable cannon defense. The fame in its era was in 1812 they defeated British ships, and the hull sides held up better because of the thickness of the wood was greater. It also was involved in the Med for detering pirates kidnapping sailors and captains for ransom (Familiar with current day events). They tried to scrap it in 1829 but public outrage stopped that. and was active to early 1900's.
It was restored first in 1927, and many times since. Today some of the deck is under reconstruction to arch the deck in the middle for water runoff.
The USS Constitution has been owned by the US Navy since 1797. On the fourth of July the ship sets sail and turns around. We went aboard Old Ironside & visited the museum filled with information & memorabilia.
We went to the USS Constitution one day around noon.... walked around the museum, which was fairly interesting
Then, we went out and got the tour of the ship. My husband, who did not want to go, had such a great time, and it really was amazing to hear about what life was like for the crew back them. And to see how small some of the walkways and ceiling were, and how they slept, what they ate, etc -- just a great dose of American History
It has been restored, but there is alot of the "original" there, and the tour guide gave a great tour...
The USS Constitution, nicknamed "the Old Ironsides" is three masted, wooden halled frigate. Built in 1797 it is the old commissioned ship afloat in the world. Today it is part of a historical museum and can be toured for free.
The USS Constitution has a glorious history having served in the Quasi War against France, the War against the Barbary States and the War of 1812. During these conflicts the USS Constitution saw much action and fought two famed battles against the British in the War of 1812 in which the ship was victorious. The ship was responsible for eight other captures during the war. During this period the USS Constitution carried 52 guns of different sizes and 450 sailors.
Eventually the ship was considered to be no longer sea worthy and was almost scrapped in 1830. However after much protest, the USS Constitution was restored in 1835. During this period, a sailing ship like the USS Constitution was somewhat antiquated and could not battle steamships. Instead it served a time patrolling the seas in search of illegal slave traders.
In the early years of the 20th century there was talk of scrapping her again but public sentiment saved her. The USS Constitution was again restored in 1925 and actually did a world tour. It was completely refitted in 1992 to 1995.
To visit the USS Constitution you have take a thirty minute tour. This was well conducted by a female navy sailor who was quite colourful. The tour takes you through the various decks (watch your head) and gives you some idea of living and battle conditions for those who served on board.
The Charlestown Navy Yard also is home to museum giving you greater insight into the battles of the USS Constitution. There is also a World War Two destroyer at dock here, the USS Cassin Young. I did not visit either of these attractions due to time restraint.
The Charlestown Navy Yard supported America's war efforts for two centuries. It saw action in the War of 1812 and fitted ships out during World War II (1941-46). It continue to provide naval support into the Korean and Vietnam eras.
For historic representations of the work done at the Navy Yard, see my Travelogue
Visit the oldest ship still in commission. One of the most popular stops on the Old Town Trolley Tour, and along the "red brick road" (Freedom Trail) is the Charleston Shipping Yard where the USS Constitution is docked. It's a great place to stretch your legs and take a look at this beautiful old 3 masted ship. Visits are free. There is a museum and gift shop close by. There's also an informal restaurant close by.
This is a great place to take photos of the Boston skyline across the Charles River. It's easy to see the Old North Church steeple and the Faneule Hall clock tower amid the modern buildings. From the Ship Yard, you can also see the monument that stands above Bunker Hill.