Over the course of USS Constitution‘s 2015-2017 restoration, approximately 350,000 pounds of white oak timber, cut at the Naval Support Activity Crane in Indiana, will be fashioned into hull planks and other structures. The first two deliveries of trees arrived in the Charlestown Navy Yard on July 7 and July 14, 2015.

[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
A truck carrying the first delivery of five white oak trees arrived in the Navy Yard on July 7, 2015. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
For each delivery, the truck and its rig weighed approximately 75,000 pounds, 40,000 of which were the 45-foot-long, 40-inch diameter trees. Each tree weighs approximately 8,000-12,000 pounds.

[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
A truck carrying the second delivery of trees backed down Pier 2 alongside USS Constitution on July 14, 2015. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
Trent Osmon, forester of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Midwest’s Public Works Department Crane, oversees the harvesting of the white oaks for USS Constitution. “When we find a super tree during our treks into the woods we record its location,” he said of the process. “There are additions to the list each year as we [find] new trees. With 53,000 acres of forest…there are [also] subtractions to the list (lightning strikes, blowdowns, dying of old age) each year…”

[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
The trees are offloaded one-by-one to be temporarily stored on Pier 2. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
The harvested trees are shipped by truck from Crane, Indiana to the Charlestown Navy Yard. Upon arrival, each 8,000-12,000 pound tree is offloaded onto the pier next to Dry Dock 1. Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston riggers are in charge of the offloading and lay-down of the white oak.

[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
A NHHC Detachment Boston rigger helps to offload the trees. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
The white oak trees (Quercus alba) will be fashioned into 35-foot-long hull planks on-site in the Navy Yard and will be installed below Constitution‘s waterline. As Joshua Humphreys, principle designer of the six original frigates, noted: “good, long substantial white oak” was necessary for the warships’ strength and durability. The hull planks will be installed after the copper sheathing is removed.

[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
A GoPro camera (lower left) captures time-lapse photography of the action. This footage is viewable on YouTube and in the video below. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]

 

– M. M. Desy & K. Monea

The Author(s)

USS Constitution Museum
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