Tis me again, the ole Seadog…n with anather sea-faring tale of suspense, history, and action far yar readin entertainment. The USS. Constitution was the first requisitioned ship to stand against foreign tyranny towards the newly found United States of America, by none other than the father of the nation George Washington hiself…and Aye..she’s still afloat today.
Hard to believe um shore, but, still be a sitten et pier one, roit et the end of the historically famous “Freedom Trail” in Bahston, Massachusetts. You can see it today…yes, nuthing too hard to see, should one decide to go thar and make thar presence be,,,Nuthing to hard far shar…like far the Constitution, thar was never too hard a sea…
Between the years 1794 and 1797 USS Constitution was under construction at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard in Boston Massachusetts . One of six frigates authorized by George Washington for construction by declaring the Naval Armament Act March 27, 1794, the Constitution launched at Boston harbor for the first time October 21, 1797.
She set sail on her first cruise, July 22, 1798. It was a cruise which took her and 450 sailors to the Caribbean seas. She was off to do battle in the undeclared; “Quasi-war between the United States and France. A war fought completely at sea, and lasting for three years.
She made good wind to the Islands, and stood high in the water, as well as in terms of battle and defense during her first tour. After returning to Boston from the Caribbean, the Constitution was “Mothballed” ( in today’s terms ) for about two years. The Navy term for mothballing in 1801 was “In Ordinary“, meaning that the mast, rigging, sails, guns, and navigation equipment were all removed from the ship and stored inland, while the ship itself remained dry-docked for repairs.
By 1803, Constitution was boastfully ready for another tour of duty in another war should one arise in need of her services. That, of course wasn’t a problem as one had swollen the North African seas for the newly, now unprotected ships of United States since the day that she went in ordinaries, in 1801.
Though British merchants, coastal dwellers, and fishermen had lived in fear of becoming slaves or killed by marauding Pirates commissioned by the Ottoman Empire as early as the late sixteenth century, by the late seventeenth century, Britain had begun paying the Algerian countries subsidies for safe passage of British ships. This did not completely stop the North African countries from taking British subjects from land, home, and sea and selling them into slavery. Still, British naval power, and diplomacy carried much weight in the shipping department.
Prior to the Revolutionary war, colonized America’s ships were under British naval protection, and tributary umbrella. During the Revolutionary war with England, the states allied with the French, wherein France was under treaty to the nascent U.S. maritime safety with the signing of the 1778 treaty of Alliance.
By 1783, however, the U.S. had burned more than a few bridges, and therefore nothing shy of a formidable Navy of their own, ferrying state of the art super-vessels could get them through the ravaging pirated waters of the Barbary coast. Collectively, the U.S. had payed millions of dollars (most of which borrowed ) of ransom, and tributes to the corsair piloting pirates, and at long last decided enough is enough.
Accordingly, in 1803, after resting and repairing her battle wearied hull from the three-year Quasi-War with France in the Caribbean, USS Constitution heads off on the blue horizon as the flagship of the U.S. Mediterranean Squadron to do battle with Muslim pirates, princes, and Algerian corsairs.
By 1805, the United States went unchallenged both in seaport, and the open waters of the mid-eastern joining seas. Nonetheless, the USS Constitution and her crew of valiant seamen continued to patrol the Mediterranean until 1807. She spent the next two years under repair in New York, and patrolled the U.S. Coastline as the flagship of the Northern division of ships for the protection of the American coast until 1810, and was the Northern Squadron flagship until 1811.
Setting sail in August of 1811, the ships tinier took her across the big pond on voyage to France, England, and Holland.
All of what the USS Constitution had been through thus far was admirable but relatively ill-noted as far as public awareness until the one year cross sea voyage was complete. From whence most of her notoriety and claim to fame would arise to surface was the eminent war of 1812.
Cannon balls fired from British ships striking her thick hulled sides were bouncing off and dropping to the depths of the sea like rocks thrown by little boys at cypress trees, bouncing into the swamps below.
She proudly sailed the war while taking many merchant ships, and defeating five majorly feared British battle frigates; one being the “Guerrier“. It was the gallant stance against, and capture of the Guerrier, that gained her the famous name “Old Ironsides”.
Fighting on two years after that, she took the HMS Java, HMS Cyane, and the latter of the British brutes, the HMS Levant on February 20, 1815.
At 36 years old, the young lassi was seen moored in many harbors around the world even for the next 64 years . Her assignments ranging from training missions, to a two-year around the world cruise, and transporting American exhibits to the Paris Exhibition in 1878, before coming home to Boston for her 100 year birthday party in September 1897.
Though she had served as a receiving ship in Portsmouth New Hampshire, and part of an Apprentice training Squadron from the time of her arrival back from the Paris Exhibition, the Constitution remained on exhibition her self for the better part of 116 years, and never sailed the high seas under her own power again…
Until 1997, just months before celebrating her 200th birthday.
The great Tall Ship Parade leading charmer is visited still today, (as Queen Elizabeth II did July 4th, 1976 ) at the end of the famed freedom trail in Boston Massachusetts.Visit us @ LandtiQuaSeas.com