Fun Facts About the USS Constitution

Margaret and I vacationed in New England in 1991. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the USS Constitution in the Charlestown, Massachusetts Navy Yard.

The address is:
Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 02129


Fun Facts About the USS Constitution

  • The USS Constitution is the oldest fully commissioned warship in the world.
  • Named by President George Washington after, of course, the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • On March 27, 1794, Congress established the U.S. Navy as we know it today. Beginning in 1785, Barbary pirates from Algiers began to capture American merchant vessels. In order to protect American shipping, Congress passed the Naval Act of 1974 and six frigates were commissioned.
  • It was designed by Joshua Humphreys, Pennsylvania ship builder, and Josiah Fox.
  • It was built by Colonel George Claghorn in Boston at Edmond Harrt's shipyard.
  • About 10 percent of the ship still exists, the rest has been restored over the years.
  • On October 21, 1797, the USS Constitution was completed and launched at a cost of $302,718, which is equal to an aircraft carrier today. It took 3 attempts to launch her.


  • She is 204 feet long and 43 feet wide with a draft of 23 feet and mainmast height of 220 feet.
  • The planking is made of the best oak. Cannonballs bounced off the side giving her the nickname "Old Ironsides."
  • Retired from active service in 1881.
  • Many states contributed to the creation of this iconic ship:

Georgia - live oak
Unity - masts
Maine and South Carolina - pine
Rhode Island - canvas
New Jersey - keel and cannon balls
Massachusetts - sails, gun carriers, anchors
Paul Revere from Boston - spikes and copper sheathing


  • Accomplishments:

First Frigate in War of 1812 to engage a Royal Navy Frigate, HMS Guerriere
August 19, 1812, 600 miles east of Nova Scotia
35 minute engagement
gains nickname in this battle when someone saw a British shot bounce off the side

July 17, 1812 - The Great Chase - the crew spied ships in the distance and, on the 18th, they realized they were being pursued by a British squadron, the wind stopped, and they tried to tow the ship to escape, but it wasn't working
so the crew used kedging in which the ship's anchor and cable were rowed out by boats, dropped anchor, kept repeating for a full day until a squall passed over and they were able to escape

More info about this "Great Chase"

The Great Chase, July, 1812 -

Other links of interest:

USS Constitution Museum -

HistoryNet USS Constitution: The Legendary Survivor -

Freedom Trail Foundation USS Constitution -

History and Life of the U.S.S. Constitution -

USS Constitution July 4, 2012 -

Gun Drill aboard USS Constitution -

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