Wednesday, August 19, 2015


19 August 2015: 203 years ago today, USS Constitution won her nickname "Old Ironsides" when she triumphed over HMS Guerriere in the eastern Atlantic, beginning a string of successful encounters with frigates of the Royal Navy during the War of 1812. The days leading up to the victory were low indeed, for the young United States of America, with land-based disasters seemingly proving the nay-sayers right about declaring war on the mightiest country in the world on June 18, 1812.

But USS Constitution, commanded by Isaac Hull, brought welcome news of the first victory - and notable it was! - to the beleaguered citizens desperate for some good news! It was during that monumental engagement when the stout sides of Constitution repelled the iron shot of the British ship and caused one American sailor to cry out, "The cannonballs bounce off her sides! They must be of iron!" And the nickname was born.
Constitution mid-battle with Guerriere

In commemoration of that famous battle, Constitution's first single ship engagement, the US Navy, still the owner of the ship, ordered her underway on her own power - sail, she has no mechanical propulsion - on 19 August 2012. It was a wonderful sight, though with precious little wind to fill her sails. Nonetheless, she was free floating, unattached from her ubiquitous tug, with some of her sails set. Here's an image I took that day!

As you can easily see, there wasn't much breeze, unlike the previous time she sailed, on the 200th anniversary of her launch. A still marvelous experience to witness. Congratulations, Old Ironsides!

Until next time,

                                 Fair winds,
                                         Old Salt

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