Happy New Year!

Constitution‘s 217th year marked her 8th visit to Dry Dock 1 in the Charlestown Navy Yard. “Old Ironsides” entered the dock on May 18th to start her two-year restoration. Ongoing work on Constitution in 2015 included: cleaning the ship’s hull prior to docking, the dry docking, removing the mizzen mast fighting top for refurbishment, removing the copper sheathing, shaping and installing new hull planks and gun deck waterways, restoring the cutwater, and removing and repairing rigging.

We’ll be posting updates right here throughout 2016, so check back often. Or better yet, subscribe to the restoration blog and each post will be mailed straight to your inbox! You can also see real-time photos of Constitution in dry dock via Constitution Cam.

To celebrate an exciting year in Constitution‘s history and the start of the restoration, here are a few photos that capture special moments in 2015.

[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
In the weeks leading up to Constitution‘s dry docking on May 18, 2015, keel blocks and haul blocks were set up in Dry Dock 1 in the Charlestown Navy Yard. These wood and concrete structures were newly created for this specific docking. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
Sea water from Boston Harbor surged into Dry Dock 1 on May 17, 2015 through the newly built and installed steel caisson. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
Constitution crossed the sill of Dry Dock 1 at 10:08 PM on May 18, 2015. At this moment, a U.S. Navy Docking Officer assumed responsibility for the ship. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
At 12:47 AM on May 19, 2015, once the water had drained sufficiently so that Constitution‘s keel was safely resting on the keel blocks, Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston Ship Restorers secured the cutwater shores to her bow.  [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Photo by James Almeida.]
150519-N-SU274-037 CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (May 19, 2015) Cmdr. Sean D. Kearns, 73rd commanding officer of USS Constitution, conducts his first dry dock inspection of Old Ironsides near the conclusion of the dock's dewatering process. Constitution entered Dry Dock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard last night to commence a multi-year planned restoration period. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter Melkus/Released)
Commander Sean D. Kearns, 73rd commanding officer of USS Constitution, conducted his first dry dock inspection of “Old Ironsides” at 7:46 AM near the conclusion of the dock’s dewatering process on May 19, 2015. [Courtesy U.S. Navy. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter Melkus]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
Copper removal began in late summer 2015. A team of USS Constitution sailors and NHHC Detachment Boston Ship Restorers spent weeks stripping over 3,000 copper sheets, tens of thousands of copper nails, and thousands of feet of “Irish” roofing felt from the ship’s lower hull. This photo shows exposed white oak planking and hull caulking at the waterline, just forward of the ship’s rudder. Below the exposed planking is the 1995 copper sheathing that had oxidized after 20 years of exposure to the harbor’s salt water. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
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NHHC Detachment Boston Ship Restorers worked to secure the curve of a newly steamed and bent bow plank. This is one of the last steps in the steaming process. After the plank cooled and the curvature was permanently set, it was installed on the starboard bow. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
One of several curved laminated white oak planks that was installed on the starboard bow on September 17, 2015. Note the live oak frames behind the new plank and the older white oak planks below that will also be replaced. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
NHHC Detachment Boston Ship Restorers used a pneumatic driver to insert galvanized pins through the new waterways and ship’s frames on the gun deck. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
[Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
NHHC Detachment Boston Ship Restorer/Rigger Ryan Whitehead sewed a new leather cover over an iron sheer pole for Constitution‘s standing rigging. During the winter months of the two-year restoration, Constitution‘s standing and running rigging will be surveyed, overhauled, and repaired as needed. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]
[Courtesy USS Constitution Museum. Photo by Greg M. Cooper Photography.]
A twilight view of Constitution in Dry Dock 1 on November 15, 2015 via Constitution Cam. The ship will remain in dry dock through the summer of 2017. While in dock, Constitution remains open to the public for tours. Visit the ship’s website for hours and information. [Courtesy USS Constitution Museum. Photo by Greg M. Cooper Photography.]

-M. M. Desy & K. Monea

The Author(s)

USS Constitution Museum
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