USS Constitution

Feb 14, 2011
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The USS Constitution is the oldest commisioned warship in the world that is still in service.
She was launched in Boston in 1797, used to deal with the Barbary pirates, and later fought the British during the war of 1812.

The USS Constition is still an active navy ship, staffed with US Navy sailors.

These days I work as a deckhand on the early morning Boston harbor shuttle boats, and every day, we pass the the USS Constition as she fires her cannon at sunrise.
She fires them again every night at sunset....

Has anyone here ever visited the USS Constitution?
What did you think?

The USS Constitution is the oldest comissioned warship still in service..what ship is the second oldest?
Does anyone have a 'top five' list of the five oldest commisioned warships still in service?


Regards

Tarn Stephanos
Boston MA
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Tarn,

Sorry, have to disagree with you on the oldest commissioned vessel. Just checked the HMS Victory site and according to them :-

Victory launched 1765
Commissioned 1778

She still has Royal Navy Personnel, so according to their site HMS Victory predates the USS Constitution.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Sorry All,


Do not want to change the subject of Tarn's post,
I'd love to know which are the oldest commissioned warships, be the USS Constitution or HMS Victory first or second. Are there any US or Brit sold ships that are really old still sailing?
Does HMS Belfast (WW2 Cruiser) come into consideration?

Tarn and I await your replies.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Hi Dennis!
Thanks for the information! And to think the Constitution crew and adjoing museum have been telling visitors that she is the oldest commisioned warship in the world.
I might have to pop by and make a mention to them of the HMS Victory.

Dennis, the USS Constitution is pulled out into the harbor and has her annual 'turnaround', so both fore and aft recieve full exposure to the sun.
But she is tied up at her dock in Charlestown 90% of the time.
In 1996, she sailed up the Massachusetts coast under sail power- the first time having done so in about 80 years..
That wont happen again, as the powers that be do not want to put stress on her keel...

The USS Constitution will sail out into Boston Harbor on special occasions, but her days of sailing the deep Atlantic are long behind her...

Regards

Tarn Stephanos
 

Andrew Fanner

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Nov 5, 2003
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Belfast is not in service, she is a museum. The ship went back to Portsmouth for a repaint a while ago, each way by tug.

There is occasional suggestion that Mary Rose could be thought of as a ship in service, possibly simply to be the oldest as she sank in 1548 or thereabouts. I doubt it will ever count.

There is a WW1 era cruiser in service in Northern Ireland as a training ship, HMS Caroline as was, but greatly changed from service days.
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Tarn,

Thanks for the reply. You say The Constitution is still afloat, then she will be the oldest Commissioned Ship afloat as the Victory is now landlocked.

Maybe we are both right!!

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Feb 14, 2011
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The USS Constitution is still concidered active duty member of the US Navy- I pass her every day on the way to work, and live about 3 miles from her bearth..She's a beautiful sight......
I have always wondered- is her active duty status set in stone, or do you think there is chance she may be retired? As a historical ship, she's priceless, but as a tactical piece of military weapondry, shes fairly useless....
No doubt being a ship from 1797, she's in a class of her own. The Brits have have an older warship, the HMS victory, which I think is still an active part of the british navy- but I think she is dry docked..
regards


tarn Stephanos
 
T

Trevor William Sturdy

Guest
Hi Tarn, Yes the Victory is dry docked and has been since 1922. She is basically a museum ship, although still active on the navy register. It would be highly unlikely she would ever take to sea, or even float again.
I was wondering in regards to the Constitution, to what level do the US navy maintain the ship. Is she still capable of taking to sea?

Regards.
 
T

Trevor William Sturdy

Guest
ok - Forget that last question, just read the previous posts...
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>As a historical ship, she's priceless, but as a tactical piece of military weapondry, shes fairly useless....<<

That actually doesn't mean an awful lot in the scheme of things. The Navy has quite a few vessels which are in active service which have no combat mission at all. As a relic, the Constitution has a historical value that goes far beyond any military function, and keeping her on the list is a nice way of ensuring the essential funding which keeps her up.

>>Is she still capable of taking to sea?<<

Yes. In fact, she has a few sails and was actually sailed under her own "power" a few years ago. Since there aren't an awful lot of people out there who really know how to operate a square rigger and given the ship's value, I don't think you'll ever see that happening again.
 
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The last time the USS Constitution was under full sail was in 1996, and that was just to take her up the Massachusetts coast to Marblehead. There is fear if she were taken out to sea under full sail- she could possible crack her keel- as her keel and ribs are original, dating back to 1797.
Twice a year the Constitution is taken out into the harbor and turned around, so both sides of her hull get equal exposure to the sun...
Plus she sails out into Boston harbor every July 4........
The shipyard where she was built is now the home of Boston's US Coast Guard base...

What became of the Constitution's sister ship?

regards


tarn Stephanos
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What became of the Constitution's sister ship?<<

Ultimately, they were removed from service and broken up. The Constellation survived until around the time of the Civil War but was ultimatly broken up. Some of her material was used in the sloop of war Constellation which was launched at the Gosport Navy Yard on 25 June 1853 and commissioned on 26 August 1854. She is currently held by a private concern as a museum ship.

See http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/46/46020.htm and http://www.constellation.org/
 

Jim Hathaway

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Dec 18, 2004
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Constitution was one of 3 frigates, the others being the Constellation and President.
What Michael says is right about Constellation. I believe it was a way for the navy to get new ships, but using the old components and name, it may have, at least on paper, considered a refit.
President was an interesting case, from what I remember, she was grounded at low tide, and her hull was badly hogged.
She was not capable of her full speed, and was captured by the British.
Here is a link to a site with the whole story-
http://www.mywarof1812.com/battles/150114.htm
I think I read someplace that part of her was found being used as building material for a barn in Britain.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>it may have, at least on paper, considered a refit.<<

Well, at least that's the story that was sold to Congress. In a time of reletive peace, they were reluctant to fund any sort of new construction, so the Navy got around it by calling it a rebuild. Everybody knew better, but politically, it was easier to go along with the subtrafuge. Unfortunely, what it also means now is that there's a strongly engrained belief that the Civil War era sloop of war and they late 18th century frigate are both one and the same ship and they're not.

The President gave a very good account of herself despite being overloaded and facing three to one odds. Had the Endymion faced her alone, I think it's fairly safe to say that the contest would have had a different outcome.
 
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Apparently the commander of the USS Constitution is being pulled from his assignment on the constitution- and the Navy admitted they have little faith in his abilities- I wonder what the captain did wrong?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I wonder what the captain did wrong?<<

They never said one way or another I'm afraid. All that came out was an expression of a loss of confidence in his ability to command the ship. There have been six skippers sacked in just as many weeks.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Tarn,
I think what you meant to say was that the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship still AFLOAT. The Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world (but is not afloat). The oldest British warship still afloat (?) must be the Foudroyant (ex-Trincomalee), which was launched in 1817.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Hi Michael-
I can't imagine what the Constitution's skipper did to cause the Navy to lose faith in him-
She's a ship that never leaves port, so how challenging can the position be? (as compared to being a captain on Naval craft that sails the high seas..)

Hi Stanley, yes, I was making mention of the fact the USS Constitution is the oldest comminsioned Navy craft in the world- that is still seaworthy- The HMS Victory is older- albiet drydocked.....
 

James Carey

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Sep 14, 2004
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The 2nd USS Constellation (Launched as a Sloop of War in 1854) is alive and well in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. She is Beautiful, but is too valuable to sail.
The first one was launched in 1797 and was the First commissioned US Navy vessel. She was broken up for scrap in 1853.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>She's a ship that never leaves port, so how challenging can the position be?<<

There's a lot more to being the captain of a ship then just going out for a drive. The captain is responsible for absolutely everything that happens on his/her command. Crew issues that get out of control and stay that way, administrative affairs that are not in order, personal misconduct or even the perception of same...it doesn't take much to trash a career these days.