Old Ironsides: History and Career


The USS Constitution aka Old Ironsides is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat. This heavy frigate with a wooden hull and three masts was among the best navy ships of its time, says Premier Ship Models, a company renowned for RC model boats and historical model ships.

The USS Constitution is 305 feet long and 43.6 feet wide, weighs a staggering 1,500 tons and could carry more than 50 guns. Let’s have a look at the history of what might be America’s most important ship of all time.

Construction and Launch

USS Constitution was commissioned in 1794 by President George Washington who also gave the ship her name. The frigate was constructed between 1794 and 1797 at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard in Boston. Five more ships were built along with it with the objective of defending American merchant ships from French privateers.

After the construction was completed, the ship had a launch party which was attended by President John Adams. However, due to its huge weight, the ship became stuck on the slip way boards and the launch had to be rescheduled. The second launch party was attended by many notable guests. Among them was the future King of France, Louis Philippe.

Second American War of Independence, 1812

In the War of 1812, USS Constitution engaged numerous warships. During the war’s early phase, the ship fought and defeated the British ship, HMS Guerriere in a famous naval battle. A number of cannonballs hit the ship during the battle, but they kept bouncing off her sides. Upon noticing this, the crew declared that the ship had sides made of iron. This earned the ship its popular nickname “Old Ironsides”

Over the course of the war, Old Ironsides managed to defeat as many as five British warships and also succeeded in capturing several merchant ships. This legendary performance is why it enjoys a massive public adoration till date and is a highly popular choice for making historical model ships and wooden model ship kits.

Old Ironsides was tasked with capturing slave ships in the Mediterranean after the war. During the 1940s, the US Navy planned to scrap her, but this was eventually cancelled and the ship was renovated instead. After the renovation, the ship went on a world tour.

The Civil War and Retirement

USS Constitution served the US Naval Academy as a training ship during the Civil War. She was retired from active duty in 1881 and was stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery where it housed sailors. Finally, in 1907, Old Ironsides was designated a museum ship.

In 1931, USS Constitution embarked on a 90-port tour of the United States. Then, in 1997, on her 200th birthday, she raised her sails again after more than 100 years. Next, in 2012, on the 200th anniversary of her epic battle with HMS Guerriere, she sailed under her own power for the first time.

Present Day

Still fully-commissioned, the USS Constitution goes into the Boston Harbor a few times each year. While doing so, the ship fires her cannons toward the Fort Independence in salute. Docked at Charlestown Navy Yard these days, the USS Constitution is open for guided tours all year long.

If you’re a patriot who wishes to own a small-scale replica of Old Ironsides, you can get it from a reputed company that makes scale models of ships, sailboats & yachts.


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