USS Constitution‘s successful undocking on July 23, 2017, from the Charlestown Navy Yard’s Dry Dock 1, marked the end of the first phase of restoration work on the ship. Once in the water, Constitution‘s hull needed several weeks to swell the planks below the waterline. On August 2, 2017 “Old Ironsides” and USS Cassin Young were switched around Pier One in the Navy Yard and returned to their regular berths (photographs below). Constitution‘s restoration is now in its final phase, which includes outfitting the ship and re-installing the rest of the rig. This work will be finished by the spring of 2018.
This short video captures the moving of USS Constitution from the Navy Yard’s Pier One East berth to the mouth of the Charles River and the subsequent move of USS Cassin Young from Pier One West back to Pier One East.
USS Constitution is now back at her regular Charlestown Navy Yard berth at Pier One West (photo below). The crew of “Old Ironsides” are once again offering multiple deck tours of the ship for the visiting public.
While the dry docking is over and the ship has returned to the waters of Boston Harbor and to her Pier One West berth, work on Constitution continues. Over the course of several days in August, “Old Ironsides'” replica guns were installed. Her saluting battery of two retro-fitted replica 24-pound long guns were some of the first to be put aboard the ship.
USS Constitution‘s 32-pound carronades were placed on the spar deck after the installation of the long guns. Though these guns are replicas from the 1927 restoration, they were cast to the actual weight of real carronades and thus each barrel and carriage weighs approximately 3,500 pounds. The video below shows the NHHC Detachment Boston riggers using the crane and a pallet jack to swing the guns aboard and then maneuver them into place at the gun ports.
For about one month, between mid-July and mid-August, visitors to USS Cassin Young in the Charlestown Navy Yard could view the two Dry Dock 1 caissons berthed at Pier Two West. The side-by-side “floating gates” represent 100+ years of evolving technology. The 1901 caisson is the oldest extant riveted steel vessel built in the Charlestown Navy Yard and the 2015 caisson is the latest in floating gate design.
On August 21, 2017, staff from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard came down to the Charlestown Navy Yard to conduct the de-watering, or draining, of Dry Dock 1. Because salt water can eat away at the granite walls and floor of Dry Dock 1, it must be kept dry, even when there is no vessel in the dock.
This time-lapse video show the emptying of the Charlestown Navy Yard’s Dry Dock 1.
Honors for the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston Staff
Since 1991, the USS Constitution Museum has presented its annual Don Turner Award
“to a person or team of people…who have contributed significantly to efforts to preserve important vessels or who have made significant contributions to our knowledge and understanding of ship design and construction.” [“Criteria”, Don Turner Award, USS Constitution Museum]
The award was created to honor Don Turner, the former head of the USS Constitution Maintenance and Repair Facility (now the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston), for
“his singular contribution toward the preservation of ‘Old Ironsides’ and the skills that built her, as well as his knowledge of and dedication to the ancient art of shipbuilding, and to recognize others who are similarly dedicated to maritime preservation and advances in ship construction and design.” [“Summary”, Don Turner Award, USS Constitution Museum]
The 2017 Don Turner Award was bestowed on the staff of the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston for the 2015 – 2017 dry docking and restoration of “Old Ironsides”.
“The legacy of USS Constitution lives on thanks to the dedicated work of the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston. Combining modern technology with traditional shipbuilding techniques, the Detachment Boston works tirelessly to preserve and maintain America’s Ship of State. Due to the care and craftsmanship of the Detachment Boston ship restorers and riggers, Constitution remains the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, preserving an important symbol of America’s maritime heritage to share with future generations.” [“A Salute to Maritime Preservation”, presentation of the Don Turner Award, USS Constitution Museum, September 14, 2017]
Congratulations to all of the women and men of the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston who had a hand in the 2015-2017 dry docking and restoration of USS Constitution:
James Almeida Karen Anastas Eric Boyer Adam Briere Alex Briere Antwine Burdett Timothy Burns
Bruce Caporal David Cavanaugh Bruce Comeau Michael Desmond Margherita Desy Greg Dumont
Charles “Jay” Fiste Errol Flynn Elizabeth Frost Jeffrey Gallagher James Gillis Steven Gillis Jeremy Hafley
Joseph Halter Jose Hernandez-Juviel John Hinckley Patrick Jewkes Michelle Johnson Robert Leiby
Gordon Lincoln Daniel MacLean Thomas Maloney Kevin Mansfield Peter McPherson Richard Moore
Robert Murphy Stephen Nichols Martin Parker John Pelikan Anita Petricone Joshua Ratty Kelsey Raver
Steven Ridlon Ian Robertson Nicholas Rosa Milt Ryan William Rudek Jon Stolarski Gregory Weisman
Stephen West Ryan Whitehead
The activity that is the subject of this blog article has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage Grant program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin, Chairman. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, or the Massachusetts Historical Commission, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior, or the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
Margherita M. Desy
Historian, Naval History & Heritage Command
Margherita M. Desy is the Historian for USS Constitution at Naval History and Heritage Command Detachment Boston.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator, USS Constitution Museum
Elysa Briggs was the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the USS Constitution Museum from June 2017 to June 2019.