Tuesday, April 11, 2017


11 April 2017: Out of the water in Dry Dock # 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard (Boston), USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) has almost completed her overhaul which happens every 20 years. We posted a couple of years ago (Yes, She was put in dry dock almost 2 years ago) the story of her "haul out" with images of her crossing the sill. Now, the Boston Globe reports she is close to complete and will be refloated in July of this year. Here's the story:

The last surviving member of the US Navy’s original class of six frigates, the Constitution will return to the waters at Charlestown Navy Yard with nearly 100 new white oak planks and more than 2,200 fresh copper sheets on its recaulked hull.  

Though the ship won’t be fully outfitted for launch until September, the Navy said the end of the drydocking is an important step in the restoration process, which is required every 20 years to keep the historic vessel from falling victim to shipworms and other marine hazards.

The Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy, operated from 1798 to 1854, earning the nickname Old Ironsides. It captured 33 vessels and is known for three victories* against British ships during the War of 1812.

During the restoration process, the ship has remained open to visitors. From April 15 through July 10, people will be able to check out the Constitution’s top deck from Tuesday through Friday from 2:30 to 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Through April 14, the visiting hours are Thursday and Friday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 [*ed: there actually were four: Guerrierre, Java, Cyane, and Levant, the last two being beat at the same time!]

Starting July 10 and continuing into September, deck access will be limited so workers can restore its masts and other parts of its rigging and complete the restoration project, estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million.

The Navy yard will remain open, however, and there will still be opportunities to see presentations about the ship and to interact with the crew. The ship returns to the water July 23 at midnight. 

Margherita M. Desy, a historian with the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston, said the project has been an opportunity to see the Constitution in its full majesty.

By exposing the area that normally sits below the water line, conservators and visitors have been able to catch a glimpse of how the four-story vessel towered over the North End when it was under construction there centuries ago, Desy said.

A view of the keel of Constitution. Officials say that about 2,200 of the 3,400 copper sheets have been replaced. 

“Every time the ship is taken out of the water and this extraordinary ship is revealed to us and our visitors . . . we once again marvel at the beauty of her design, the scale of the body of this very large warship,” Desy said. “It’s a privilege to have any opportunity to work on her and to work aboard her.”

The restoration has also given members of the public a chance to put a small mark on the ship. Many who visited the USS Constitution Museum wrote their names on sheets of copper that were later placed on the ship’s hull.

“It’s kind of fun that visitors to the museum over the past two years have literally been able to inscribe their names in history,” Desy said.

We will of course post here re-launch in July. 

For the next couple of weeks, we will be away (at sea) and will have very limited access to wifi, hence this may be the final post until May.... If possible, we will offer more, but it's not assured.

That's it for now (and maybe for a couple of weeks!)

                            Fair Winds,
                                        Old Salt

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