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November 18, 2004
It is my very good fortune to report that I happened to be in Baltimore Harbor at the time of the Annual Ship's Turnaround with the Voyage to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and the 150th anniversary of this fine ship. At the moment, I could hardly believe my luck.
The USS Constellation, the flagship of President Abraham Lincoln, is retired to Pier 1, Baltimore Inner Harbor, where she has experienced the largest non-Naval wooden ship restoration in the United States for a total of $7.5 million. Almost back to her original appearance, she is moored most of the time, except for the Annual Ship's Turnaround, and on this special year, her towing down to Annapolis for about a week's stay. Her first visit to Annapolis in 111 years.
Curious as usual, I toured the ship on a regular adult tour ($7.50). There were unusual happenings aboard ship, as not only the usual crew, but the curator and a tug boat captain, were buzzing around and talking about towing the ship in a couple of days. In fact a very large, heavy-duty tug boat, the Elizabeth Ann worked around the big, old ship.
Eyes and ears open, I soaked in as much information as I could. I've never witnessed such a nautical event. The plan included at least four massive seagoing tugs in an extremely well-planned move to take the Constellation down to Annapolis. With kind regard to this older woman, they took the time to answer my questions about where and when I should plan to view the big tow.
I chose to make my stand in front of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel on the long, curving walkway above the water -- a very good decision, as it turned out. Not only a good position, but I had no competition for the space. Passing on the chance to have coffee and donuts down on Pier 1, I set up my little photo stand early and waited, not to be disappointed, as the photos show.
I had a wonderful visit in Baltimore. This event was more than icing on fine cake. It was an experience I shall always treasure! The tow successful, the USS Constellation made her visit at the US Naval Academy, an old warship honoring those who now serve. Absolutely outstanding!
The US Post Office now has 37-cent commemorative stamps of the USS Constellation, and the ship's museum gift shop has first-day covers (not to mention a whole range of souvenir gear that benefits the upkeep of the ship).
From journal Pride of Baltimore
by R. Beau
February 19, 2003
The USS Constellation was built in 1854 for the US Navy. The last all-sail warship constructed, the Constellation served the nations defense for 100 years, before being permanantly located in Baltimore in 1955. In the past decade, restoration was begun on the badly neglected vessel, and continued til 1999, when she was sailed one last time to her home in Baltimore.
Anchored pier-side along the Pratt Street pavilion at the Inner Harbor complex, the Constellation, perpetually poised for battle, offers visitors a first-hand view of the glory of 19th century military engagement and the grit displayed by the men who set sail into the perilous winds of war.
Tours highlight crew life with access to quarters and common areas, insight into battle strategy and weapons, and the art and beauty of the great sailing ships of her time.
The USS Constellation is open for tours daily, May 1st to October 14th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The off-season (October 15th to April 30th) hours are from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Tickets may be purchased dockside from the tour desk attendant. Admission is $6.50 adult, $3.50 kids.
From journal 'Welcome to Bawlmer, Hon'