All aboard the USS Constitution

All aboard the USS Constitution

USS Constitution on July 4th - 55What a fantastic day! I’ve uploaded my set of photos to Flickr. A YouTube video of the 21-gun salute is also available.

For those of you joining me late, my dad gave me the coolest gift, which was to sail aboard the USS Constitution during her annual July Fourth cruise around Boston harbor. He is friends with a former captain of the ship, who gave Dad his own tickets. My dad knows what a nut I am about old ships and so he invited me to go.

I met my dad at the boarding line about 8:30 am at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Everyone in the line as well as the whole crew were very excited. We quickly learned that the day would include an assisted sail (the Constitution does not sail under her own power anymore, but must be assisted by tugs) out to Castle Island in South Boston and back. We would have several admirals aboard as well as several ship captains and a group of people becoming naturalized citizens during a ceremony while underway.

We were pretty much given the run of the ship and explored a bit. The crew was helpful and friendly and snappy in their period uniforms. In a bit of an anachronism, the crew has both men and women, but they all looked very young. (I’m getting so old.)

For the occasion I wore my USS Ronald W. Reagan, CVN-76, hat to honor our nation’s 40th president and the Navy. My dad, a Navy veteran of the Korean War era, had his Navy hat. We calculated that it had been more than 50 years since he mustered out of the service. More than one sailor he talked to thanked him for his service to the country.

The ceremony was properly full of ritual and pomp. The Navy Band played the classics, like “Washington Post” (if you don’t know the name you recognize the tune from the last graduation you attended probably) and others.

Highest honors to our heroes

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  • Thanks, Dom, this is great. I love the video and the slide show. But folks, it’s also fun to look at the photos individually…Dom wrote captions for them which is helpful.

  • You should explain to your readers why it is that they turn Ironsides around once a year. I think that detail is missing from your report. It is NOT to simply fire her guns.

  • Well, Captain, I thought I had indeed put that in either here or in my original blog post. Sorry for the omission.

    On the other hand, your comment would have been a perfect place to do it too. grin

    In any case, the ship’s turnaround cruise is to turn her around so that she receives even weathering.

  • I’ve been a fan of the “Age of Fighting Sail” since reading Forrester’s “Beat to Quarters” 30+ years ago. And all the rest of them, AND O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series.

    Perhaps because of that, the annual “sail” of “Constitution” always, without fail, saddened me. And still does. Without her sails, she always seemed to me lifeless, a shell of what she was, reduced to a kind of cherished fragility that was utterly at odds with a warship.

    But 10 years ago, almost to the day, I did buy a seat on a boat to watch “Constitution” literally set sail, during her 200th anniversary celebration. Check the photos here (not mine):

    We and all the other viewing boats were kept quite a distance away, and she wasn’t wearing a full suit of sails…but it was thrilling all the same. For the first time, I realized what it meant to “hoist sail”—the yardarm raised upwards by pull ropes, exposing the sail surface to the wind.

    By the way, for those interested in the period, there is an excellent history out, “Six Frigates,” by Ian Toll.

    The Amazon link is here:

    An excerpt from Toll’s own site: