Summer Challenge: USS Constitution

Last summer I gave myself a challenge to visit some local historical sites that I had never visited or that it had been a while since I visited them.  I was able to visit a few local ones and some that were not so local that I visited during my vacation in Florida.  Since I did not complete the list, you can find the list by clicking here; I decided to continue the challenge this summer.

I have had a long interest in the USS Constitution.  This comes partly because she is the oldest commissioned warship in the United States and the fact that she is berthed right here in Boston.  But my interest is deeper than these two as one of my relatives, okay a very distant relative, was once Commodore on the ship.

CDR Preble

Commodore Edward Preble entered the Massachusetts State Navy in 1779 and was appointed an officer in the 26 gun ship Protector.  He became a British prisoner when the ship was captured in 1781.  After his release he served on board the Massachusetts ship Winthrop.  After the Revolutionary war he saw 15 years of merchant service and in 1798 was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Navy.  Fast forwarding a bit in 1803 he was promoted, over many senior officers, to Commodore and given command of the Constitution.  He sailed her to the Mediterranean where he established a blockade off Tripoli.  He retired from naval service in 1804 and died in 1807.

Today the Constitution has entered dry dock for the every 20 years’ service.  As the oldest commissioned warship, and made of wood, the ship requires a lot of maintenance.  Once of the tasks is to remove the copper plates on her hull and replace them with new ones.  If you have an opportunity to visit her and head into the museum, you will have an opportunity to sign your name on the copper plates that will be attached to her hull.  See her in dry dock is amazing as you get a chance to see her all the way down to her keel.  Although the tops of her masts have been removed she is still a magnificent sight to see perches as she is.  The ship has reopened for tours however only the top deck is available at this time to tour but it are worth it.


The museum, right next door to the ship, is also worth taking the time to visit.  Run by the National Park Service it is open to the public for a donation.  The museum traces the history of the Constitution and the role she has played in the history of the United States.

If you find yourself in Boston take the time to cross the bridge to Charlestown and visit the Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard.  You will not be disappointed.

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