Constitution Contempt

As per the theme this week I present a ship that was once (or twice) in a naval battle. The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) has had a very tenuous past. She was launched in 1797 as part of the the new nation's first six war frigates. She was instrumental in many battles of the war of 1812.

Old Ironsides in Portsmouth Harbor
After that it became a training ship during the Civil War, then a receiving ship, a dormitory for officers at the Portsmouth (NH) Naval Shipyard. Even after that it was displayed in Philadelphia for the centennial celebration and allowed to sail across the Atlantic to France for the centennial of the Treaty of Ghent. (peace accords for the War of 1812) As a museum ship she sailed through the Panama Canal to different ports on the west coast.

It was at one time slated to be sunk for target practice. The top photo shows it's condition as living quarters. Not a very good look for such a majestic and accomplished sailing vessel.

One of it's war engagements was actually a cat and mouse game. It was discovered in Bermuda that her main mast was split from a previous battle in the War of 1812. The captain decided to make a run for Boston, her home port, for repairs. She was intercepted by two British ships and the chase was on.

Instead of leading the British into Boston Harbor the captain headed to Marblehead just a few miles up the coast to the north. Marblehead had a protected harbor with Fort Sewall at the head. After the Constitution entered the harbor the citizens of Marblehead manned the guns at Fort Sewall and fended off the British.
The Constitution under her own power
off Marblehead, MA 1997

In 1997, that "battle" was reenacted. For the first time in 116 years "Old Ironsides" sailed under her own power with new sails.

I witnessed that "sail in." As Marblehead was crowded that day with tourists, I biked in from Salem and witnessed the Constitution sailing outside of Boston Harbor for the first time in my lifetime.

Sadly, since the Constitution is such a treasure to the US Navy, she is now prohibited from leaving Boston Harbor. She still does annual "turn around" cruises, and leads any important ships and tall ships into the harbor. She remains today the worlds oldest commissioned warship.

Sail your warship into the harbor of Sepia Saturday by clicking here.
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