This past April, divers from Seaward Marine Services, Inc. stopped by the Charlestown Navy Yard to clean USS Constitution‘s hull below the waterline in preparation for her restoration. These skilled divers, many of whom served in the U.S. Navy, braved frigid water temperatures to scrape twenty years of seaweed and mollusk build-up from “Old Ironsides.” Cleaning the hull helps remove excess weight before the ship is floated into dry dock.
Several divers spent nearly six hours a day for two days scrubbing the hull with large bristled brushes specially designed for cleaning ships.
In addition to carrying an emergency oxygen tank on their backs, each diver wore a wetsuit and helmet hooked up to three tubes: one to provide oxygen, one with a wire used for communication, and one pumping a constant stream of hot water to keep them comfortable in water temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Manager of Curatorial Affairs, USS Constitution Museum
Kate Monea is the Manager of Curatorial Affairs at the USS Constitution Museum.