By Debbie Gregory.
The USS Constitution possesses the distinction of being the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel. According to the U.S. Navy’s history website, the Constitution was built and commissioned in response to threats to American maritime trade by the Barbary Corsairs. She was one of six frigates that were ordered as a result of the Naval Act of 1794. She was given her name by George Washington, who named the ship after the charter of supreme law that Americans live by.
The Constitution was undefeated in multiple naval battles during the Quasi War with France, and also during the First Barbary War, where she provided shore bombardment at Tripoli. The Constitution was also one of only 22 commissioned warships that took on the mighty British Navy in the War of 1812, capturing five British ships and earning herself the nickname, “Old Ironsides.” The Constitution is responsible for inspiring Americans to doubt the rumored invincibility of the British during the war.
Today, the Constitution is still manned by active duty Navy personnel, with a mission to promote the U.S. Navy and its role in maritime commerce. Part of the Constitution’s current duties include participating in public events, including events celebrating national holidays.
This year, for the Constitution’s 4th of July Independence Day turnaround cruise, the USS Constitution will conduct a lottery to select 150 winners to ride Old Ironsides on the 4th in Boston Harbor. Each winner, chosen from the general public, will be permitted to bring one guest.