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USS Constitution Timeline

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  • “An Act to provide a Naval Armament,” signed by President George Washington, authorizes the purchase or construction of six frigates to create the United States Navy

  • USS Constitution under construction at Edmund Hartt's Shipyard in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts

  • First attempt to launch into Boston Harbor fails

  • Second attempt to launch into Boston Harbor fails

  • Third attempt to launch into Boston Harbor succeeds

  • First cruise from Boston to the Caribbean

  • Quasi-War with France

  • West Indies Squadron flagship

  • In ordinary and repair in Boston (to put a warship “in ordinary” was to decommission and temporarily lay up the vessel until it was again needed; while in ordinary, a vessel might have its rigging, masts, and guns removed and placed in storage. Today, a ship in a similar state is said to be “mothballed.”)

  • Mediterranean Squadron flagship during First Barbary War

  • Mediterranean Squadron flagship

  • Repairs in New York

  • Flagship of the “northern division of ships for the protection of the American coast”

  • Northern Squadron under command of Captain Isaac Hull

  • Special service cruise to France, England, and Holland

  • War of 1812

  • Escape from five British warships off the coast of New Jersey

    DISCOVER
  • Battle with HMS Guerriere

    DISCOVER
  • Battle with HMS Java

    DISCOVER
  • Escape from HMS Junon and HMS Tenedos into Marblehead Harbor

  • Battle with HMS Cyane & HMS Levant

    DISCOVER
  • In ordinary and repair in Boston

  • Mediterranean Squadron flagship

  • Mediterranean Squadron

  • In ordinary in Boston

  • In response to a rumor that the U.S. Navy is going to scrap the ship, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. writes a poem in defense of “Old Ironsides,” rallying people to save the aging warship

  • First dry docking of the ship in Boston for a significant rebuilding

  • Local Boston captain Samuel Worthington Dewey beheads the wooden Andrew Jackson figurehead in protest

  • Voyage to France with Minister to France Edward Livingston

  • Mediterranean Squadron flagship

  • In ordinary in Norfolk, Virginia

  • Pacific Squadron flagship

  • Home Squadron

  • Sails a total of 52,370.5 miles during World Cruise

  • In ordinary and repair in Boston

  • Mediterranean Squadron

  • Pope Pius IX and King Ferdinand II of Naples visit the ship at Gaeta, Italy

  • Captain John Gwinn dies in Palermo, Italy, becoming the first captain to die while in command of the ship

  • In ordinary and repair in New York

  • African Squadron flagship

  • Captures last prize, the slaveship H.N. Gambril

  • In ordinary in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

  • Refit and conversion to a naval school ship in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

  • School ship for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland

  • Relocated with the U.S. Naval Academy to Newport, Rhode Island for the duration of the American Civil War

  • Returns with U.S. Naval Academy to Annapolis, Maryland

  • In ordinary in Philadelphia Navy Yard

  • Rebuild in Philadelphia Navy Yard

  • Stationary training ship in Philadelphia Navy Yard

  • Transports United States exhibitions to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, France

  • Apprentice Training Squadron

  • In ordinary in New York

  • Receiving ship in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

  • Returns to Boston

  • 100th Anniversary

  • On exhibition in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston

  • Restoration in Boston, marking the first time the U.S. Navy attempts to restore the ship to her War of 1812 configuration

  • On exhibition in Boston

  • School children across the United States raise over $154,000 as part of a “Pennies Campaign” to help restore “Old Ironsides”

  • Significant restoration in dry dock in Boston

  • Visits 76 cities along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts of the United States during the National Cruise

  • On exhibition in Boston

  • Along with USS Constellation, named the symbolic flagship of the United States fleet during World War II

  • 150th Anniversary

  • Routine maintenance and repairs in Boston

  • Congressional Act, Public Law 83-523 designates Boston as ship's official home port

  • Repairs in dry dock in Boston

  • Repairs in dry dock in Boston

  • Dry docking and restoration in Boston

  • On exhibition in Boston

  • USS Constitution Museum opens in Building 22 in the Charlestown Navy Yard

  • White oak trees at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana are reserved for future restorations

  • Leads parade of tall ships in Boston Harbor

  • Queen Elizabeth II visits for the United States Bicentennial

  • Rosemarie Lanam becomes the first female crewmember assigned to USS Constitution

  • Dry docking and restoration in Boston

  • A copper spike from USS Constitution is flown on the United States Space Shuttle Atlantis during her first rendezvous and docking with the Russian Space Station Mir

  • Lieutenant Commander Claire V. Bloom becomes the first female executive officer assigned to USS Constitution

  • USS Constitution sails her under own power for the first time in 116 years

  • 200th Anniversary

  • International ships salute USS Constitution

  • Restoration in Boston

  • The National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010, signed by President Barack Obama, designates USS Constitution America’s Ship of State

  • Bicentennial of the War of 1812

  • Sails in Boston Harbor in commemoration of the War of 1812

  • Dry docking and restoration in Boston